I remember it like it was yesterday. My parents would stuff me and my siblings into itchy Christmas sweaters emblazoned with reindeer, Santa, and snow-covered rooftops and try to wrangle us up in front of a painstakingly decorated tree in the living room.
And wrangle they did. The second they nailed me down, my little sister ran off into the kitchen, giggling all the way while my younger brother sat down and rolled his eyes practically into the back of his head. Managing to get us in one frame was a small miracle, and you can imagine that the photos were a little bit less than perfect.
Now that I’m out on my own and taking photos with my little family (me and my dog, basically), I appreciate how hard Mom and Dad had to work to create a festive image to send to family and friends. And even when I get my pup to look at the camera, there’s the issue of lighting, which I’d never even thought of (and I’m sure my parents never had time to think of, either). Fortunately, one photographer named Irene Rudnyk just released a video to show all of us amateurs out here how to nail the perfect holiday photo that’s sure to amaze everyone on your Christmas card list.
It all starts with something everyone has around the holidays: Christmas lights. Bring a strand or two in from outside and string them up. Near a window with a curtain rod may be a good place to start, both because of the natural lighting and the fact that you can hang the lights from the rod. Warm, white lights will serve you best, but if you really want to get festive, feel free to try it with multi-colored ones!
Plug those babies in and position yourself (or the kids, or the dogs, or everyone you can fit into the frame) among the lights.
Have the photographer grab their camera and one string of the dangling lights and back away a bit. They can stand on a stool if the angle isn’t quite right. Holding the lights near the lens will create a glowing effect. Having the subjects play around with the lights in a similar way adds even more of a glow.