Christmas light traditions go back to before electricity was invented. Before electricity, households would light candles in windows and hang lit candles on their Christmas trees (talk about safety!). And guess who invented the first Christmas light display? None other than Thomas Edison. He and his apprentice are to thank for the little bulbs we use today. Ten years after their invention, they started being mass produced and the rest is literally history.

Christmas lights are now extravagant pieces of decoration both inside and outside of the home. People go all-out decorating their houses as well as decorating their holiday trees. Even though we don’t have anything new to invent here, our innovation comes from how we set up our displays.

Like they say, if there is no photographic evidence, it didn’t happen. Here are some great tips for getting amazing Christmas shots!


Be Settings Ready for Christmas Images

Because most of your Christmas light photos will be in darker light scenarios, you’ll need to know the right camera settings to make those festive decorations pop. We’ll explain the three most important camera settings for shooting in low light scenarios: ISO, Aperture (or F Stop), and Shutter Speed (or exposure time). They work as a trifecta to help you get the most out of your photography.


When shooting in low light, you’ll need to adjust your camera settings to compensate for the lack of light. Keep your ISO as low as you can, around 400 or so. The higher your ISO the grainier your photos become, so don’t adjust this setting above 800.



Like the ISO, you’ll want your aperture low, somewhere between f/2.8 and f/8 depending on the light scenario. Increasing your aperture number will decrease the amount of light that will come into your photo, but more of the photo will be in focus for those low light shots. It is important to adjust your shutter speed to allow more light into your photo once your aperture and ISO are adjusted – we’ll get to that next.


Shutter Speed

After your ISO and Aperture are set, all you have to do is change the shutter speed. The slower your shutter speed, the longer the exposure time and the less grainy your photo will become. The thing with using a slow shutter speed is that the camera’s ability to capture will be very sensitive to movement, so a tripod is essential. Try starting with your shutter speed between ⅛ of a second and ⅖ of a second and see what works best for your light scenario.


Get an Amazing Shot!

Christmas lights are vibrant at night, but if the sky is pitch black, they’ll end up looking like they’re floating in an abyss. Timing your shot just right is a key to success, and you’ll get a lot more photographic texture if you try capturing at twilight or dusk. That way, you’ll be able to see the shape of a house they’re on and more of the surrounding elements.

Ten minutes after the sun goes down is a magical time to capture Christmas lights as well. It’s called Blue Hour, when the whole sky will turn a cool shade of blue on a clear day. During this time, you’ll be able to capture the vibrance of holiday lights and their environment, but be quick – Blue Hour only lasts about ten minutes, after which the sky starts getting dark.


Tripod Up

Shaky hands make for a blurry shot. To ensure that your image stays crisp and clear with the ideal camera settings, bust out the tripod. You can go the extra mile by using a remote or timer while the camera is on a tripod to make sure you won’t have an ounce of residual movement after you click the trigger.


Turn-Off Flash Until Spring

I know, it’s tempting. But using the flash will counteract the colors of the lights and create a lot of image noise. Keep the flash off. Don’t even think about it.


And just like that, you’ve got a bright, magical-looking photo that shines above the rest!



Founded in 2013 our first-year sales exceeded expectations. Our staff is very knowledgeable, friendly and professionally costumed for the holidays and we encourage our customers to take their time with Santa. Our staff allow the kids to get comfortable with Santa in order to capture that special photographic moment. Book your Santa Photo services with Candy Cane Photography and “Capture Moments”.