Read the latest issue here

Five Tips to Upgrade Your Photography Style This Christmas

Family photographer Helen Bartlett shares her top tips for capturing precious family moments this season.


Ten years ago, hung proudly in almost every home was an overly posed, formal family portrait shot in a studio setting. Today, like the trend in wedding photography, more candid and informal family photographs are the preferred choice.

Over the past decade, I have seen family photography become far more laidback allowing photographers like myself to capture the most special moments and the true personalities of families in a more organic home setting, such as their home or garden.

1.Experiment with interactions
With all the excitement of the festive period, from the food to the endless socialising, it’s hard to decide which situations to photograph. As a family photographer, for me the magic lies in uncovering the story behind the interactions – between siblings, grandparents or friends. There are plenty of chances to try something different, for example, by putting your camera on a tripod and documenting the table settings throughout the day.

Canon EOS R, Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 IS Macro STM lens, ISO1600, 1/1000 sec @f/1.8
Credit: Helen Bartlett, Canon ambassador and family photographerr

2.Test new styles
To tell a cohesive story, the importance of a consistent shooting style shouldn’t be underestimated. For me, that means shooting in black and white. I love the way it makes the images and stories feel timeless. This Christmas, I’d encourage you to do the opposite of what you usually do and evaluate the impact this has on your work. Is your style candid or more traditional? Perhaps you usually edit your pictures in a distinct way? Experiment, find a new style and stick with it throughout Christmas.

© Canon EOS R, Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 IS Macro STM lens, ISO200, 1/160 sec @f/2.8
Credit: Helen Bartlett, Canon ambassador and family photographer

3. Mix up your perspectives
As a photographer, you’ve got a chance to recreate those by altering your perspective. Take your photography to a new level (literally) by telling the story of Christmas from the perspective of a child, or even a pet! An articulating back screen, like that on the EOS R, makes this much easier as you can take pictures in places and from angles you wouldn’t normally see (or fit!). Combine this with a large aperture such as f/1.2, and you can capture some fantastic images where the Christmas tree lights sparkle in the background.

© Canon EOS R, Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens, ISO1600, 1/320 sec @f/1.8
Credit: Helen Bartlett, Canon ambassador and family photographer

4. Photography has evolved – embrace candid

By taking a candid approach to photography there’s a whole host of opportunities to do something a bit different. Experiment by capturing the different elements of your family’s routine. In my household, we have a tradition of stretching out our stockings the night before. With this you could try your hands at close-ups of the stockings with a macro lens or portrait photography that captures the excitement on the children’s faces at the prospect of having it filled with presents – often in low-light conditions.

Canon EOS R, Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens, ISO500, 1/6400 sec @f/1.2
Credit: Helen Bartlett, Canon ambassador and family photographer

Print your photos to analyse technique
Today, it’s so easy to digitally store your photos and forget about them until someone asks. But building up a series of consistent images and getting them printed is a fantastic way to document your progress as a photographer and your growth over time. This is much easier to do than sifting through 15,000 pictures that are digitally stored.

Visit to find out about Helen’s journey as a family photographer and explore the fantastic images she’s captured on EOS R

Kase: Best Kase scenario

March 8th, 2021

A good set of filters is a photographer’s best friend, and they don’t come...

Essential composition rules for better p...

December 11th, 2020

For every photographer, knowing how and when to use these five composition rules is...

broncolor: Make light work

March 8th, 2021

Combining speed with power and intuition, the broncolor Siros 400 S is the complete...

Profoto Academy Live: the results

December 16th, 2020

We offered three lucky readers a masterclass in lighting, using the Profoto B10 alongside...