How To Capture The Perfect Christmas Morning On Film


Christmas morning is full of wonder, joy, and most importantly, memories. For our film shooters looking to capture those unforgettable moments, we have a few tips to ensure your photos bring you cheer!


We have 3 solutions when there isn’t enough light.  The first might not be the most practical, but it’ll get the job done, and that’s using a reflector.  That can be the fancy 5 in 1 you have, or it could be a sheet you have your trusty assistant hold up.  We’ve even seen pillows used.  Just remember, if it is being used as a reflector it should be white, otherwise it is going to bounce a ton of color onto your subject. The second option would be utilizing window light. If you place your subject near a window, here is where that 5in1/sheet/pillow would work great to fill in the shadow area that is not lit by the window. The third potential solution would be to use a flash.  Now, you could point it directly at your subject, but it might look a bit harsh.  Instead, try pointing it at the ceiling and opening up 1 stop on your fstop.  The light will be a lot softer and you’ll be surprised at the results you get!



If B&W film is your jam, we recommend 2 film stocks to shoot in that super tricky low light : Ilford HP5 400 or Kodak TMAX P3200.  Don’t worry about HP5 being 400 speed film –  We love seeing it pushed 2-3 stops.  That means you rate it at 1600 or 3200 and then we develop it longer to compensate for the underexposure AKA PUSHING! Our second suggestion, TMAX P3200, is such a versatile film that performs amazingly in the worst lighting situations.  What’s even better, if you don’t finish the roll in that dark area, you can go outside and overexpose it 1-3 stops and STILL get really great results.  That film really can be shot in any lighting situation! Stock up on Ilford HP5 35mm here or 120 here and TMAX P3200 here .



Do you want all the color? If so, you have a handful of choices, but we’d recommend reaching for Fuji 400H or Kodak Portra 400. If you don’t want all that yellow you’re going to get from shooting under tungsten/mixed lighting, Fuji 400H is a really great choice for a more neutral look.  If you don’t mind the warm look, Kodak Portra 400 is a great and versatile choice.  Both films will yield fantastic results, just remember that Kodak Portra 400 will be a lot warmer than Fuji 400H. You can stock up on both of these film stocks right here!



We know Christmas morning can be suuuuper dark which means slow shutter speeds and shooting wide open if you’re not using a flash.  That means it’s time to bust out that trusty tripod to help with the slower shutter speeds OR run with the idea of movement, have the kids run around and shoot at 1/8th of a second to capture some craziness! If a tripod seems stifling to you, now is the time to get brave.  If you are comfortable at 1/60th, it’s time to get out of that comfort zone and attempt 1/30th. If you’re tree-trunk steady and can do 1/30th no problem, try 1/15! We promise you’ll surprise yourself with the results! To learn more about how to meter for all these situations, we’ve got a blog post explaining all of that right here!

We can’t wait to see your Christmas Morning photos!