Oct 28, 2020 | iPhone

How to Take Great Holiday Photos With Your iPhone



decorating the tree

Want to take better photos this holiday season? As a photographer with years of experience working with cameras, I’ve put together a list ot items that will help your images shine this holiday season. Let’s dig in.

Clean your lens

iPhone 11 Pro
image of the iPhone 11 pro close-up of the camera

Your lenses are attached to the back of your phone, which you handle all day long every day.  Chances are good you will touch the lenses on your phone during the day, which will smudge the lenses at least a little.  Those smudges, even the ones that are hard to see, can have an effect on your images.

Use a microfiber cloth to clean the lenses right before you decide to photograph some images.  That will give you the cleanest, sharpest images possible.  Remember,  cloudy images are almost never sought after.

Change your perspective

If you look at Facebook and Instagram, almost every image will be taken from the same perspective.  Most images will be taken from chest to face height from the ground.  If you want a simple way to take photos that stand out from the crowd, shoot from a position other than that.

Christmas tree from a different perspective

Getting low is an easy way to get a new perspective on your holiday photographs.  Especially with children around, lowering your vantage point is an excellent way to craft a more engaging image.  When you start taking images from new vantage points, you start seeing things a whole new way.

Getting closer to a subject is also a great way to change an image’s perspective from the mundane to extraordinary.  Food around the holidays is a central part of the celebration, get closer to the turkey, rather than shooting the whole table at once.  That pie that your aunt spent a whole day making deserves its own show.  An overall of the spread is nice, but also try to tighten up as well.

Candid images are great

Everyone will have posed photos in front of some sort of background, the Christmas tree, the fireplace, or the front of the house.  Professional photographers have been making a living from these types of images for decades.  You will see them on everyone’s social media posts.  By all means, take photos in front of the tree.  We can also do better than that.

making cookies
image of two women making Christmas cookies

What captures the true joy of the holidays will be candid photos.  Images capturing genuine laughter and smiles don’t look staged.  Those will be the images that remind you of the day far more than a picture in front of the tree.  

Take advantage of your phone’s software

Your iPhone has some amazing image processing software that works without you even knowing it.  It makes images that would otherwise be difficult to capture because of lighting so much easier than with a regular camera.  The iPhone’s night mode is especially impressive in capturing dynamic range in overall dimly lit scenes.

image of holiday candles on display

Try some candlelight shots at night.  Candlelight images set their own mood, especially during the holidays.  You could even try combinations: a candlelight image taken with portrait mode could be epic.  The sky is the limit, so use your creativity.

Get outside

There are some great holiday photos waiting for you outside.  If you live in a snowy environment and are having snow for the holidays, fantastic!  Get some images of that snow on some trees or with the kids playing (remember those candid photos!).

It doesn’t all have to happen during the day either.  You can get some stunning images of lights outside in the night.  Perhaps even a twilight image of your own house with the interior lights on, presenting a warm and inviting image.

rockefeller plaza
image of Rockefeller plaza street sign during Christmas

Even without snow on the ground, the very way people dress can indicate the time of year.  Grab some images of celebrations around you as well.  Nothing says the holidays like a people bundled up, ender a blanket riding in a horse-drawn carriage.  Especially if the colors are white and red and green.

Do some post-production on your favorite images

Once you have taken a slew of images, it is time to pick out your favorites and share them.  Scroll through the photos you have taken, and I hope there are a lot to choose from!  Pick out the images you like the best.  Whether they have great composition, mood, and depth, or if they are your favorite because of who and what are in them, you will have favorites.

Now edit each of these photos and do a little work on them.  If you do nothing more than edit the images and hit the magic wand for auto-corrections, you are still doing more than most.  You can do as little or as much editing as you like.  It’s kind of like salt and pepper to taste, everyone has their own opinion on how much or little to edit.  The best part is, these are your photos.  Edit them the way you think they look best.

Consider some video of your holidays

Along with the photos you are taking, consider grabbing some video as well.  The iPhone makes a fantastic video camera as well.  The iPhone 11 captures video well enough to be used for small productions.  Some moments just work better as video, so capture some great footage while you are at it!

While photos can capture a moment to remember, so too can video. You can also take photos while you are taking video.  When you start a video using the iPhone camera app, the shutter button turns into a red square, for stopping the video.  Next to the stop button will be another white shutter button.  Use that shutter button to capture images during your video.

Just remember to edit your video later, just like you did for your photos.


Shaking things up and not taking the same photos everyone else is taking will set your images apart.  Working with composition and perspective will have a huge impact on how pleasing your photos are.  Adding in some post-production work, which doesn’t have to be either hard or time-consuming, will add the finishing touches to your photos.  Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment and try new angles and compositions.  You never know, you might just end up with an epic photo that would have been missed otherwise.

If you liked the article, please leave a comment below and leave a suggestion for future topics above.  Until next time, go take some pictures!



Ralph is an avid photographer in his spare time. He spends a lot of his photography time shooting sports photos of his daughter, who plays softball and swims. He also has a keen interest in mobile photography.


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