Here are six ideas to use Christmas lights for dreamy photos

Dec 27, 2019

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

Here are six ideas to use Christmas lights for dreamy photos

Dec 27, 2019

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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Christmas lights are everywhere these days, and it would be a shame not to use them to get some lovely bokeh. In this video, Sweet Lou Photography will give you six ideas for using Christmas lights in your photos, both indoors and outdoors.

YouTube video

You will need:

  • White and colorful Christmas lights (obviously)
  • Some fishing line
  • Masking tape
  • A fast lens

So, here are the ideas:

  1. Background bokeh – use Christmas lights as a background and photograph a person or an object with the lens wide open. Remember to move the subject away from the lights if you want to get larger bokeh balls.
  2. Foreground bokeh with white lights – hang the lights on a light stand or a C-stand, or tape them onto a ceiling. Put your subject behind the lights, and you’ll create a foreground bokeh, plus the lights will act as a key light. You can also pull the lights closer to the camera and experiment with the look.
  3. 3. Foreground bokeh with colored lights – similar to the previous tip, you can also use colored lights for foreground bokeh. In addition, you can combine them with white lights for background bokeh if you are really feeling the Christmas mood. But pay attention as the lights might get hot, especially those classic ones made from glass.
  4. Use outdoor decorations – everything is shiny and decorated in the streets these days, so why not use it? Find the lights and use them as your background or foreground. Or even both as my buddy Milica did in the photo. Keep in mind though that you shouldn’t do this on private property.

  1. DIY anamorphic lens: remember that fishing line and tape I mentioned earlier? Tape a piece of fishing line on your lens to get a DIY anamorphic lens. You can see more DIY filters here.
  2. Shaped bokeh – finally, you can cut out cardboard shapes and attach them to your lens. This way, you can bokeh in any shape you like. In case you’re clumsy or just lazy to cut out your own shapes, you can always get a Bokeh Masters Kit and play with all kinds of shapes for your Christmas lights bokeh. Here’s one of my examples:

Saturday Night Fever

Bonus tip – here’s one I’d like to add, in case you’re not feeling the Christmas spirit this year and the holiday euphoria is wearing you down. Honestly, that’s how I feel this holiday season. But even if you’re being grumpy like I am, you can still use Christmas lights to express your attitude towards the whole “Christmas spirit” thing. It won’t be a dreamy, festive photo, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun while shooting it. And who knows, you might even change your mind end up hanging the lights on your window after you finish the shoot. You never know.

Have you shot any Christmas lights photos this year? Feel free to share them below.

[Christmas Light Photography | Sweet Lou Photography; lead image credits: JillWellington on Pixabay]

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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