It's that time of year again, just over 7 weeks to Christmas.

My workplace has asked me to do formal photos at our Christmas party this year e.g. when people (200) arrive and some of the tables when people sit down before they eat.

Obviously the lighting arrangement will be different for the formals and the table shots (standard x-mas party setup - dim lighting / disco lighting?)

  • What settings should I use to capture sharp, warm, fun images of people when they arrive?
  • What set-up should I use - pre-set-up and get people to come past me?
  • Is there a composition I should be aiming for? - full height portraits?

Equipment I have:

  • Nikon D7000
  • SB800 Flashgun
  • 35mm 1.8
  • 50mm 1.4
  • 90mm 2.8
  • 10-20mm
  • Tripod
  • Remote

I have looked around the internet and there are limited guides.


3 Answers 3


A Christmas party is basically an indoor low-light event, already pretty well covered by earlier questions here.

The scene is very similar to an indoor wedding. so most of wedding tips should apply here as well.

Specifically addressing your points:

  • Getting fun photos where people look natural at arrival is probably the hardest, because people are not in the party mood yet and you haven't had a chance to "wear them out" with constant snapping, so they wary of anything unexpected, such as a photographer at the door. You also cannot remain undercover with a tele lens in distance - most likely the lighting is so bad you'll need to use a flash.

    Having a little girl dressed as an angel handing out sparklers to arriving guests would probably distract and melt most guests. Photographer in a crazy costume would probably bring out laughter in a few people, while others would feel insecure not knowing how to react.

  • Your set-up depends on the venue and if/what kind of space has been reserved for you. Make sure to visit the venue beforehand, so you can plan the lighting and props for your "posing corner".

  • Christmas tells me that family feeling and children should be the main values to depict, so you might want to pay attention to getting group shots and good portraits of the underage case (if they are invited). Try to have both posed and natural shots.

P.S. Sorry you'll miss your Christmas party this year.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Imre - that would MAKE the Christmas party for me :-). (Sad :-) ). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 1, 2012 at 9:49
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I vote for the crazy costume. It's virtually essential I'd say. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 1, 2012 at 10:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree, utilizing tips on how to shoot a wedding reception(indoor) is the way to go. Not many differences exist. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Commented Nov 1, 2012 at 13:46

First of all to get sharp photos you need to increase your ISO a bit for an indoor setting. I usually don't prefer flash. You could use a flash with a diffuser but if the lighting is enough try taking photos without it.

Do take some trial shots to get an idea of the WB and set it accordingly to get some warm photos.

I usually keep my aperture wide open for individual portraits but close it down for group photos so I prefer shooting in aperture priority.

I don't think you will need your tripod and remote and also the 90mm might not be needed for indoor setting where you can move around and get close.


Your settings/equipment/setup/etc will depend on your style. If you want to setup a booth-like area to try and get some good portraits, especially if there are families involved that's one thing. If you want to try a different type of look (I particularly like this guy, though I don't have the personality to pull it off: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojdHsMqGJz8) then it changes what gear you need entirely.

You might want to look at things separately: how to photograph a room of people, how to photograph people as they walk up, etc. Each situation is going to require different techniques.


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