Christmas Day: the complete photography checklist

Father Christmas is making his list and checking it twice but have you made yours?! And I am not just talking about your wish list of presents. Over the years I’ve gone from taking hundreds and hundreds of photos of the Christmas holidays to taking less but more, if that makes any sense. Less volume more special moments and when you have time to be in a moment rather than trying your hardest to capture every single minute, you enjoy it so much more!

Christmas for us has always been about family, everyone taking it in turns to perform a party piece, watching the Queen’s speech after the turkey feast and letting the children go wild with wrapping paper everywhere. We have traditions that go back to my mum’s childhood, hiding silver sixpences in the Christmas pudding, carrying it onto the dining table with the brandy alight singing “Now bring us some figgy pudding, now bring us some figgy pudding” and we recreate the same photos every year.

Image source: Capture by Lucy
Image source: Capture by Lucy

I have the strongest most powerful memories of Christmas being a magical time. I look through my mum’s old photo albums and can see how much we grew year on year, holding our empty stockings up in front of the fireplace on Christmas Eve, with a look of nervous excitement and wonder on our faces. We now video the boys racing down the stairs to the front door to see if the carrots have been eaten by the reindeer shouting “Has he been? I think he’s been!”, just like my parents did when I was a child.

Image source: Capture by Lucy
Image source: Capture by Lucy

But technology and social media has moved on so much, that we are able to have a camera in our hands almost every second of the day, to snap, record and share. At my son’s nativity play last week the Headmaster said something that really struck me. Just before the children started singing he said “We are going to video the Nativity so that you can really enjoy it, so your children can see your faces, see you are enjoying it and you can smile back at them and give them lots of encouragement.” What the children want is to see us, not our smiles and tears of pride and happiness hidden behind phone screens and I thought what an amazing gesture from the school.

So with that sentiment in mind I’ve come up with a list of the 40 photos I will take this Christmas, not 400 like in years gone by that never get printed and just clog up my computer memory. I want to share in their delirious joy that the minced pie has been eaten, see them opening their presents instead of fiddling with my camera settings because the light is bad and it’s so dark outside.

Image source: Capture by Lucy
Image source: Capture by Lucy

There are some absolute musts for me on this list, the annual stocking photo, all the children together, the Christmas table and the little details that sometimes get lost on the day in all the excitement. And there are some extras that I just love. The out of focus Christmas lights creating that beautiful bokeh effect, the decorations on the house, the westies snoozing in front of the fire and kisses under the mistletoe hanging by the front door.

Image source: Capture by Lucy
Image source: Capture by Lucy

It’s never too late to start a tradition, matching jumpers or coordinated pyjamas on Christmas Eve. It’s always precious to capture the grandparents and grandchildren and entice reluctant teenagers into a big group shot. The best thing in my camera bag is my remote and I’ll be setting up my tripod, or balancing the camera on a chair and letting the children click away. Oh and getting in a few photos. Don’t be shy, you’ll regret not getting in front of the lens if you don’t!

And then I am going to put the camera away. What would you add to the list? I’d loved to know your traditions that you capture year on year. 

Lucy Heath

Lucy shares her family life from the countryside in the South West of England with her two young boys on the award winning blog capturebylucy.com. Lucy juggles a product photography business with a hectic household and believes in making the ordinary extraordinary. Come and say hello on Twitter or Instagram

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