15 Tips on Capturing Holiday Photographs for Stock

Capturing beautiful, authentic holiday photographs for stock over this seasons’ festivities is a perfect way to earn extra money as photographers on Shutterstock. With holiday festivities comes visiting family, traveling to winter destinations, and celebrating with loved ones over comfort meals and warm fires. That’s why we’re sharing our top 15 tips on how you can use the holiday season to capture festive photographs perfect for stock.

15 Tips on Capturing Holiday Photographs for Stock - Preparing for the Season

On Shutterstock and Offset, we have clients searching for holiday photographs all year long to prepare for the season. By capturing genuine and authentic holiday moments this year and uploading to our stock marketplaces, you are preparing yourself to earn extra money in the year to come off your work.

Here are Shutterstock’s top fifteen tips on capturing the perfect holiday photographs that earn you money.

1: Be camera-ready

 15 Tips on Capturing Holiday Photographs for Stock - Be Camera Ready

You never know when the perfect moment might strike. Think grandma warming up by the fire, your mom preparing the holiday baking, or kids opening stockings. The best moments are unexpected but always make for great memories and photo opportunities.

This includes using your smartphone! Did you know that you can upload images directly on our Shutterstock app? If you haven’t downloaded it yet, click here to do so for iOS and here for Android.

2: Capture genuine emotions

The happy, the sad. The excited, and the tired. We want to see it all! The holidays can be exhausting and joyous all at the same time. Don’t just consider the photographs where everyone looks happy. Customers on Shutterstock purchase photographs for a wide variety of use cases, so have a photograph for any occasion that might arise.

3: Tell stories through your holiday photos

When a customer looks for an image to purchase, they may want a series of photographs to tell an overall story. To ensure you always tell a story with any holiday lifestyle photographs you take, bring your camera along to fun family outings. Whether that’s a day out skating, hot cocoa by the fireplace, or a day on the mountain at a chalet, capture the day and share it with us. That way, you’re telling a story from start to finish with your content.

4: Bring holiday props along

Have an arsenal of holiday props ready in case the opportunity strikes. This can include things such as fairy lights, plaid clothing, Santa hats, dried pinecones, and more. Essentially, by being prepared you to give yourself the chance to turn any moment into a festive one.

5: Shoot the mess in between

If you are shooting a dinner setup or a food activity, don’t forget to capture the mess in between. With holiday photographs, that could be a hand reaching to cut the turkey, or a messy plate on a well-manicured table with stylized props. It may be a drip of gravy before it hits a plate. A stylized mess can show authenticity and tell more of a story than static images with still props.

6: Take a variety of perspectives

When you’re closeup to a decked-out tree, go wide for an overall interior shot. Perspective is key and is a great way to get variety in your holiday photographs quickly. Shoot different angles, perspectives, and crops to give a unique composition to your imagery.

7: Capture the prep

15 Tips on Capturing Holiday Photographs for Stock - Capture the Prep

Setting up festive lights, preparing the holiday food, or placing the gifts under the trees. All of these can be considered perfect holiday photograph opportunities. The shots before the event starts are just as valuable as the shots during, as they showcase when everything is looking bright, shiny, and at it’s best.

8: Give those holiday lights a good bokeh

15 Tips on Capturing Holiday Photographs for Stock - Incorporate Bokeh

A bokeh is a fantastic way to add a beautiful, stylized element to your photographs. Whether you’re taking a portrait of a family member or an image of a decorated tree, creating that beautiful bokeh light is a simple way to add a dynamic element to your images.

9: Group photographs that sell

15 Tips on Capturing Holiday Photographs for Stock - Shoot Group Photos

One of the best types of photographs that we see on our stock marketplace over the holidays are group photographs. That is, photographs of friends and family enjoying the festivities. But how do you take great group shots? Ensure that everyone is acting organically (no peeking into the camera lens), and encourage group dynamic activity such as a cheers of a drink. The holidays are best shared, so group photographs of many people are fantastic for the holiday season. Just remember to bring a model release with you!

10: Go outside & explore

15 Tips on Capturing Holiday Photographs for Stock - Explore Outside

Traveling to a neighborhood with lots of holiday lights? Explore your neighborhood. Consider capturing bokeh images of other lights in your neighborhood. But remember, images of recognizable buildings (including houses) require property releases. For more information about property releases, click here.

11: We need diverse imagery

15 Tips on Capturing Holiday Photographs for Stock - Shoot Diverse Images

We love photographs of people of all races, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, and ages. We encourage all content to be diverse and show a wide variety of model type and situation type. Clients are searching for diverse imagery, and this inclusion is more important than ever to our marketplace. We are always looking for holiday images that celebrate global festivities including Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, Christmas and more.

12: Holiday cues don’t need to be obvious

Sometimes, the best holiday imagery are the ones that almost couldn’t be holiday. The holiday cue might simply be some fairy lights in the background, a red plaid shirt, or catching snowflakes in a winter wonderland. Less can be more, so if you have any holiday imagery that is more minimal, we encourage you to upload it on our network. Tag it with the appropriate keywords such as “minimal holiday” so that it gets the best visibility.

13: We’re a global marketplace-we need sunny holidays too!

Shutterstock and Offset have contributors and clients around the globe, and that means we need holidays in all corners of the world. We encourage you to upload and tag holidays that you have in your location that are specific to your culture and geographical location.

14: Capture some great holiday moments & still-life

15 Tips on Capturing Holiday Photographs for Stock - Look for Great Moments

We love a good still life image, and holiday ones are fantastic. Have a beautiful modern home? Traveling to a cabin in the woods? We want to see your images of festive decor and interiors that inspire. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Holiday Still-Life Ideas:

  • Stockings hung in a row
  • Festive decorations around the home
  • Milk and cookies, and other holiday treats
  • Holiday crafts
  • Warm holiday accessories such as wool socks, mittens, or scarves
  • A wintery tree after a fresh snowfall
  • Reading books by the fire
  • Building a snowman

And many, many more. Here are some tips on capturing perfect still life images.

15: Food and drink photographers: we love your holiday top-downs

A holiday top-down can’t be beat. What could be better than stunning props paired with delectable dishes and delicious drinks? We love a good holiday top-down, and even better: pop a hand in there for a fun human element.

Bonus Tip: Have a studio? Take some holiday images with white space

Beautiful studio images are great for clients looking for images that are a perfect fit for image overlays. Picture a seasonal sale. Clients need dynamic imagery that sells a product or idea. Consider doing some fun, staged studio shots this holiday season. Remember to tag your images with keywords such as “Studio Holiday” or “White Space Holiday” to show clients the types of images you shot in-studio for your portfolio.

We hope these tips help inspire you to create some beautiful holiday photos for stock this holiday season. We can’t wait to see what you upload on Shutterstock and Offset.

Want more tips on earning money as a Shutterstock contributor over the holidays? Check out these articles.

Find out how to turn your creativity into cash.

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