Heather Palmer, Heather Palmer Photography

I’m a sucker for a good Christmas tree photo. It’s a tradition to take a photo of my kids in front of our tree every year. The trick is lighting. You need to allow lots of light into your camera, and I’m going to tell you how to do it.

Most of us use our cell phone cameras more than we use any other type of camera, so let’s start there.

Your cell phone needs a lot of light to capture good photos so try this during the day. Pick a time when your room has the most natural light. When you use a flash, it washes out your subject and ruins the Christmas tree lighting effect. Turn all lights, except the lights on your tree, off. (You only want to use natural light for this project.) Have your subject face the window and stand at least three to four feet from the tree. Don’t put them in direct sunlight, to reduce shadows. I usually put my kids on a stool or chair so they will hold still.

If there still isn’t enough light in your photo, there is a handy feature on your phone to help. When you touch the screen, a little sun will pop up. Slide the sun up or down, and it will change the exposure. Cool, huh?

Let’s say you liked the photo on your cell phone, but you want to take your photo a step further. Pull out your “big camera” for this one.

For a Christmas tree silhouette, put your DSLR camera in A or AV mode and turn the number to the lowest it will go. This tells your camera to have a wide opening to capture the most light. It may make your shutter speed really slow and therefore, make your photo blurry, so place your camera on a tripod or steady surface and put it on a timer. This will help eliminate movement. In photos with longer exposures, steadiness is your friend. Test it out before you put your subjects by the tree. For my photos, I have my kids turn toward the tree to capture their silhouette.

For a different look, place your subject toward the tree and use the light from the tree to light up his or her face.

There are so many fun ways to use your tree to capture the “perfect” Christmas photo, so have fun and be creative to capture precious holiday memories!