3 Ways to Shoot Santa on Christmas Morning: Holiday Photography Tips

Published by Faith Byars on

Photo provided by Pixabay

3 Ways to Shoot Santa on Christmas Morning: Holiday Photography Tips

Holiday memories can be difficult to capture. But, local photographer Riley Bibey of Riley Jean Photo Co. has advice to help make this season’s photos merry and just the right amount of bright.

Between the rustling of opening presents or the cooking of big holiday meals, many may forget to capture these moments of film. Those who do attempt to capture their holiday memories may not have their photos represent reality all that well. Moreover, a professional photographer is not an affordable or practical option for many families.

Professional Photographer Riley Bibey
Photo provided by Riley Bibey

Bibey, an experienced professional photographer based in Southern Oregon, understands the desire to capture the details of the holidays in beautiful photos. Like many, she uses photos to help preserve her favorite memories from the season.

“I take immense joy in capturing the details of the holiday season,” Bibey said. “The decorations, ornaments, people’s reactions when they receive their gifts, whatever weird pajamas we happen to be wearing that year, etc. I think my favorite specific memory would be a recurring series of photos I have of my sister and I in front of our Christmas tree in matching pajamas.”

Bibey has many useful tips on taking personal photos on Christmas morning and during other holiday festivities.

The first step in taking any photo is learning the settings of whatever camera is being used, according to Bibey. Getting a high-quality photo relies on knowing the camera and the surrounding area. Bibey says this is especially true for professional cameras but also reigns true for any camera even on an iPhone.

Her second tip is to have fun with a realistic mindset.

“When it comes to personal photography, it’s best to not put super high expectations on yourself,” Bibey said. “At the end of the day, the most important thing is capturing the memories you want to capture. It’s okay that you’re not a professional, you don’t need to go buy a fancy camera that you don’t know how to use. Just learn how to use what you have, and you’ll be just fine!”

Being prepared can help ease the stress of capturing photos as well. For example, making sure any batteries are charged on the camera is an important step. For cameras with adjustable settings, preparing by adjusting the white balance for the current lighting or setting the shutter speed to at least 1/125 beforehand can help with being ready.

When it comes to the subjects being captured, paying attention is key for capturing important moments. Finding opportunities for candid moments like cooking in the kitchen, laughter around the table or children playing with their new toys can result in worthwhile photos.

Assigning seating areas when opening presents can also help personal photographers get better quality photos if the photographer wants portrait shots rather than grouped photos.

Bibey offers these more specific tips for various types of cameras.

Although Bibey encourages others to play with personal photography for those everyday moments, she also stresses the benefits that can come from professional assistance.

“I think it’s awesome to want to learn the ins and outs of a camera to capture your family’s memories,” Bibey said, “but don’t forget to invest in a professional for those truly important moments! Don’t let your great aunt capture your wedding because he has a nice camera. Just trust me on that one”

Bibey herself even outsources one of her favorite holiday traditions, her Christmas card photos, to a fellow professional. She trades her services with a peer during the holidays to get excellent photos as well as build connections within the photography community.

For more Bibey photography tips, see her social media accounts and her blog on her website. Bibey has active accounts on TikTok, Instagram and Pinterest under @rileyjeanphoto.

Phone Cameras:


  1. Lighting

“Don’t shoot with the light behind your subject (meaning backlit). Try to have your light come in on the side of your subject and you’ll find it works better with your phone!”

2. Timer

“Take advantage of the self-timer feature on most phone cameras to help with group photos!”

Challenges to look out for:

3. Lighting

“How they capture light. If you put the light behind your subject, you can lose a lot of detail and color as the image gets washed out from the lighting source.”

Point-and-Shoot/Polaroid-like Cameras:


  1. Lighting

“For both of these camera options you’ll want good lighting! Since neither of these camera options have sophisticated lenses, you’ll want to help them out by using the built-in flash and also making sure your subject is well lit. These kinds of cameras will struggle indoors because of this, so place your subject next to a lamp or window!”

Challenges to look out for:

2. Photo Size

“I think the greatest challenge is also that these cameras generally aren’t capturing a wide photograph. So if you want a photo of someone from head to toe, remember to adjust our own distance from the subject to get the wide shot you want!”

Professional Quality Cameras:


  1. Settings (again)

“I can’t stress enough how valuable it is to be able to shoot on manual mode instead of auto. Being able to adjust your aperture, shutter speed, and ISO can make a break a good photo, especially indoors.”

2. Flash

“Invest in an external flash if you like the look of flash and want to shoot indoors or in darker/nighttime settings. The built-in flash can only do so much, and you can get an external flash for less than $100!”

Challenges to look out for:

3. Complexity

“The greatest challenge with professional cameras is actually the customizability of them. If you don’t know what all the settings mean it can be really confusing and frustrating to work with them, especially as a hobby photographer or if you’re just wanting to take your family’s photos. Invest in some time on YouTube learning the ins and outs of your camera, it will be worth it!”

For to learn more about Bibey’s personal journey to becoming a photographer as well as her photography please visit “Bridal photographer captures journey” by Faith Byars.

Contact me at:

For more articles by Faith Byars please click here.

Categories: Community