Blog » New Jersey & New York Wedding Photography

How to take a photo with Christmas lights

This is probably the 3rd most popular question I get asked around the holiday season. I know many of you own a nice dslr camera and want to get a great photo of your favorite pet or children in front of the Christmas tree! There are several things to consider, but is fairly easy!


1. Place your subject in a window light

If you do not have a window I would consider a video light, lamp, off camera flash for anyone feeling fancy and confident!


2. Shoot in Manual

Set your camera on manual mode. This allows you to have full control over your settings.


3. Settings

  • Shutter speed- 1/40 sec (Make sure to hold steady as to not blur your subject) If you have a subject that might move such as a toddler- you may consider a faster shutter and more ISO.
  • F stop- Open your aperture (aka F stop) as wide open as possible. A prime lens is best because it allows you to shoot at 1.2, 1.4 & 1.8 Shoot as low as your lens will allow you. For those of you who do not own a prime lens- I have shot at different apertures in the photo below to show you what happens. The lower your F stop- the bigger the bokeh (blur)  // The bigger your number (f 4.5) means you will need to add more light by bumping up your ISO
  • ISO- I use this to control the light on my overall image. It is the last setting I change.


4. Lens Choice

I choose to use the 50mm or the 85mm 1.2


I shot these images with the same lens. I changed my F stop (aperture) to show you how it affects the type of bokeh you will get. I then changed the ISO to add light to the image.

Christmas Light Bokeh Tutorial by POPography.org_931

1/40sec     f 1.8       ISO 320               1/40 sec    f 2.8    ISO 640               1/40 sec     f 4.5     ISO 1000


Hope this helps! Feel free to ask questions or leave suggestions of your own! Happy shooting.





Click “like” to let us know you were here!

Share              Post ItTweet ItPin ItEmail It