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How To Design The Perfect Christmas Set

Blog  »  Style, December 11, 2018, Paula Houben

Making Christmas themed pictures without a Christmas set? Impossible! Festive photos should always have an extra special element to mark the exciting time of year. The easiest way to do this without affecting the child too much is by creating an appealing backdrop and surrounding set. With this in mind, we put together some essential tips for creating a beautiful Christmas set.

Think About Backgrounds

An essential item for every set is the backdrop. Some photographers prefer a photo-canvas background or a greenscreen, others prefer a more natural background. Of course, it’s up to you how you’d like to style your Christmas backdrop. In this post, we will focus more on natural backgrounds.

Probably the most classic background for a Christmas set is a Christmas tree. The colorful decorations and the lights set a seasonal atmosphere like nothing else. However, a background like a Christmas tree can distract from what the picture is actually about: the people.

Less detailed backgrounds help you to focus on the subjects. Especially when the photoshoot involves children, having some elements in the background that they can comment on or interact with is important. For example, you could include small lights. Such additions can help keep the child’s attention and get an honest reaction, which results in more natural smiles and expressions.

Dreaming Of A White Christmas

Nothing completes a perfect Christmas set more than a little snow. Sadly, this element is often lacking during the winter festivities – but if you do have snow, you’re lucky! However, there are a lot of options to create a snowy feeling in your images.

Starting with a white floor, you can create the image of a winter set. This doesn’t have to be covered with fake snow, but just white wood or a white carpet already does the trick. You can also build white elements into the rest of your set to give a light and bright effect, resulting in clear pictures. As the rest of winter can be a little depressing, having a light, white set for your shoots can brighten the mood.

Remember, don’t overdo it. We all love snow, but there is no need to get fake snow. It is way too expensive and really hard to clean up. There are other options though. A popular pose for Christmas photoshoots with kids is having them blow snow out of their hand. When there is no actual snow, replace the snow with some silver glitter. It will look magical and fits right in with the festive colors.

Of course, if you have natural snow, use it! Build up a set outside or just take your camera and go outside with the kids. Have them make snow angels and play in the snow. Sidenote: do keep in mind that the parents might not be too happy if the kids play in the snow with their festive clothes. If you plan on doing an outdoor Christmas photoshoot, inform the parents upfront.

Find out how to develop your own work still further with this handy guide on creating a personal school photography style.

Find Festive Decorations

The decoration of your set can make or break the whole aesthetic. It might seem simple, but as soon as the decorations don’t fit in with the rest, your entire set is ruined. So our first tip is to make sure that the decorations of your set fit with the style of your Christmas backdrop.

Decorations don’t have to be expensive. A simple example is buying a string of lights. They don’t cost much, but with the right camera settings it’ll give your pictures a hint of magic that makes them truly special. Another reasonably-priced idea for decorations is buying Christmas tree ornaments. Just make sure that they’re not made out of glass, so the children can’t hurt themselves.

For bigger decoration items, go to flea markets. People often sell their Christmas decorations after they’ve used them for a couple of years. One man’s trash can be another man’s treasure. One last tip for next year: start looking for the decorations for your next shoot soon after this Christmas is over. All the Christmas products will be on sale and you’ll be able to afford decoration that might normally be too expensive.

A great part of decoration on Christmas photoshoots with children is that it helps you interact more naturally with the kids. A quick example: there are some Christmas baubles on your set. You can ask the child what it is; most children will be eager to give you an answer. Once the child has answered and you have a natural conversation, you can make a silly comment: “So where do you put this bauble? In your ears?” The child will probably laugh, which gives you the perfect opportunity to take a picture of the child’s natural smile. With a Christmas tree on set, you can even ask the child to demonstrate what to do with the Christmas bauble.

Paula Houben