Magic Monday: Christmas Shot list

My entire perspective of photography changed when I started to think like a photojournalist.  Even more so when I designed my Photojournalism class, the concepts we discuss there were a real motivation to me to up my game and do better at capturing events and life instead of always having things  staged—a trap that is all too easy to fall into as a portrait photographer (regardless of any candid type “lifestyle” fun you throw into a session).

I have found myself doing much more journalistic work when photographing my own family and my life after that experience, and often find myself thinking in terms of “spreads” and “layouts” for our family albums that I design.  It helps to go into an event with a shot list planned to help tell your story.

Here’s an example of what my Christmas shot list might look like:

-Tree with lights at night, all presents wrapped and waiting for Christmas morning


-wrapping paper details, bows

-gift tags

-baked goods

-holiday cards from friends/family

-individual ornaments on the tree


-other special Christmas decor

-Group shot Christmas morning before opening presents

-true candid shots of fun expressions opening gifts

-torn up wrapping paper

-opened gifts

-Holiday dinner/or breakfast (before eating!)

-An outdoor landscape shot of what the day looked like

-Any particular special traditions–i.e. acting out the nativity, caroling, crafts, secret santa, etc.

-Photo traditions (we always had to sit on the stairs and have our picture taken before we could go to the tree).  Its fun to later put those images side by side through the years to notice some fun growth and change that occurs through life.

-natural portraits/candids of each family member INCLUDING ME!

And then I’d turn the camera off and just live in the present moment and soak up all the love.  Sometimes its good to let yourself document how you feel and not just what you see.

Anything you would add to the list?

Christmas circa 1997.  The traditional “Christmas morning stairs” shot wearing our new pjs.

p.s.  I looked through about 18 years worth of pictures and only found a handful of Christmas shots–and the years were hit and miss. Don’t under-estimate the value of a shot list 🙂

p.p.s.  please be my friend still even though I had horrific bangs, and personally picked out the matronly flannel nightgown.

Brooke Snow is a Lifestyle photographer in Cache Valley, Utah. She strongly believes that the most important subjects she will ever photograph in her career will be her own family.  And that lesson was learned the hard way.  Life is about priorities, and if there is anyone that should have “shoes” it should be the “Cobblers children and family”.  Most especially.  Amen.  Thank you very much.

Brooke teaches private photography lessons , online photography classes, as well as monthly photography classes in Logan, Utah.

Like this? Share it!

12 Responses

  1. Brooke. Your bangs are ROCKIN! =) Of course, I’m still your friend. In fact, I only wish I had as cool of bangs as you!!!

    Okay seriously though… I’m taking this exact shot list, and carrying it out this year. I’m literally printing a check list of it. =) I said a few weeks ago that I wanted to do really good at Thanksgiving and Christmas this year for pictures. So thanks for this!! =)

  2. Ooops, forget to say this in my previous comment. Personally I’ve found that Christmas is a great time to take some video as well as stills. Many photographers are now using DSLR’s that can do pretty decent video. Unwrapping presents is amazing on video and you can still capture lots of stills!

  3. Vince makes a great point! Video is so fun to use later to incorporate photos and video into shows!

    My camera does video, but I have NEVER been able to get it to work well! Whenever I transfer it to the computer it’s almost like it’s all negative color. It will record fine and looks fine when I view it on the camera, but I’m not sure what happens after that! =( It makes me so sad!

  4. Vince, you’re right on! Video is a great addition. I agree! I don’t have a single video of me ever in my entire life growing up. Its sure fun to look back and see those. I’m hopefully getting an SLR with video soon for some of those very reasons!

  5. I DID NOT sign a model release for that picture. At least you did your makeup to wear with your flannel pj’s. Its a good thing you make me look good in all the recent shots or I would be really embarassed about this pic.

  6. this is so great. i really want to start doing more personal albums so i need to start thinking like this–capturing both the details and the overall scene. i’m not so good at being comprehensive in what i photograph. 🙂 thanks!

  7. Thank you so much Brooke. I never would have thought to make a list, and I SURELY would have forgotten to take pictures of most of what you have down! Thanks for sharing!!

  8. I love that post – almost as much as I love the pajamas! I have never thought about making a Christmas shot list – thanks for the idea!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *