Want a good picture of your Christmas tree for Insta? This is how the pros do it

It's no easy task, getting a good pic of your Christmas tree for the gram, so we asked an interior photography specialist how it's done

Christmas living room with dog
(Image credit: Graden Trading)

This year it's more important than ever to get a good pic of your Christmas tree for Instagram right? Since no one is actually going to see IRL how much effort you went to to get the lights perfectly spread out, the colour scheme spot on and the kid's homemade decs carefully hidden in the depths of the branches so they still think you love their playdough creations, you need to get the perfect picture!

And for anyone who has already tried, you will know it's not as simple as it sounds. All those fairy lights and glittery baubles just mess with your camera and nothing seems to focus. So we turns to the pros and asked Victoria Erdelevskaya, interior photography specialist at Heal’s for her top tips for taking the best photo of your Christmas tree. 

If you are yet to decorate yours, head over to our Christmas tree decor ideas for plenty of inspiration. 

1. Turn off the flash

John Lewis Renaissance Christmas tree theme

(Image credit: John Lewis & Partners)

A super easy one, turn off the flash. The bright light will cancel out all the warm and cosy lights. However, you will have to make sure the space is bright though, especially if you are shooting at night – just add in a couple of desk lamps out of shot for this. 

You can also underexpose your image to make the fairy lights dimmer. Underexpose your image by placing your finger on a brighter part of the frame before hitting the shutter button. 

2. Focus on individual ornaments

West Elm Christmas ornaments on a tree

(Image credit: West Elm)

An alternative way to capture your tree is to focus on individual ornaments. Victoria recommends that 'When capturing close-up imagery in low ambient light, it’s important to keep your camera as still as possible. Set up the shot and use a timer and tripod if you have one to reduce the risk of a shaky image. Alternatively, make your body as steady as possible. Brace your arm and tuck your elbow in as close to your body as possible.'

3. Create a balanced picture 

Lucy Kemp (Dec 19):

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies © Future)

The rule of thirds is photography 101 and most cameras, even most phones will have a grid to make it easier. You want to place the most important thing in your picture (in this case the tree) on either the left or right side, around a third of the way down the frame. Victoria says: 'Cropping your image can completely change the look and feel, so try shooting vertically and tightly crop the image to see what looks the most interesting. Crop outside of the tree to keep the focus on your Christmassy centrepoint. This technique reduces the visual background noise within the image. Try to avoid cramming too many elements into one photo as this can make your image (and your Instagram grid) look too busy.'

4. Test out different angles 

White living room with a feature fireplace decorated for Christmas

(Image credit: Debenhams)

If you want to upload a few shots of your tree, maybe all in the same post or over the next few weeks, experiment with angles to get a different look. Try shooting from below for a more dramatic look, or from above (step ladder needed) if you want to get the presents in at the bottom. 

5. Capture people and pets too!

Christmas living room with dog

(Image credit: Graden Trading)

While they may not be the most cooperative, make sure you get in some pictures of your pets and family with your Christmas tree as those will be the images you cherish most. 

'It may sound counter-intuitive, but for the perfect Christmas tree portrait, position your subject as far away from the tree as possible - aim for around five feet. Then, frame your shot and ensure you are focusing on the subject rather than the tree itself. To get the best portrait, try and encourage your subject to turn to face the best and brighter light source in the room (you might have to bribe them with treats or toys).  You’ll be left with a gorgeous portrait with your Christmas decorations providing a soft, festive backdrop.' says Victoria. 

Hebe Hatton

Hebe joined the Real Homes team in early 2018 as Staff Writer before moving to the Livingetc team in 2021 where she took on a role as Digital Editor. She loves boho and 70's style and is a big fan of Instagram as a source of interiors inspiration. When she isn't writing about interiors, she is renovating her own spaces – be it wallpapering a hallway, painting kitchen cupboards or converting a van.