Holiday Photos: Set Aside the Camera and Enjoy!

Imagine a peaceful Christmas morning, sipping your coffee (or tea) and enjoying the moments. Without feeling the need to capture photos. Every year, I try to avoid my camera as we enjoy our Christmas traditions. I avoid it because I want to take part in them, not be the photographer for them.

It’s been two years, and this is the third year I’ll capture our holiday without putting my face behind the camera. No more missing a shot. No more feeling hectic. No more rushing to pick up the camera and not enjoy the moment. Yes, I love shooting, but at times like this I’d rather sit and enjoy.


Last year, I shared a family recipe post for Project Stir. In the post, I also included a video of stills shot while my daughter and I baked the cookies. I captured a wonderful memory without getting behind the camera.

How Did I Do It?

First, I have some bad news for some of you. You need an interval timer on your camera. If you don’t have one, you aren’t out of luck though because you can always use a remote and push when ever you want a photo. At least you aren’t messing with settings, composition or sticking your face behind a camera. You could even use your phone. Did you know you can use your earbuds as a ‘remote’ to your phone’s camera on an iPhone? You have to plug it into the phone but at least you could set the phone on a tripod then sit back and snap with the volume controls on the earbuds.

The process begins with a tripod and planning. Christmas Eve I set up my tripod with my camera and make sure it includes all I want in the scene. I use my 35mm so I can capture most of my living room. Then I choose my settings. I typically start my settings with the aperture – usually around 8 or 9 so I’m not missing focus. Then I’ll set my shutter speed to about 250 to avoid motion blur and see where it takes me with the ISO (usually about 3200). I do a test shot to make sure everything’s good then go to bed.

It’s all set up in the morning so after grabbing a cup of coffee, I turn the camera on, check my settings again and do another test shot. Then I turn on my interval timer settings (on my Nikon, I can find it under the Menu button then the shooting menu) and let it shoot for me. Usually I set it for a shot about every 10 seconds. That’s something that’s up to you though. For the video below, I had it set at every 3 seconds (and I didn’t include every photo).

Putting it together

After it’s all over, you can quickly and easily make a video!

My entire process is in Lightroom. Nothing else. I bring my photos into Lightroom and cull. I only get rid of photos that are bad – like someone walks right in front of the camera. I don’t use my typical culling process for this, but I do rate so I can pull them into the slideshow.

Once I cull, I process one photo then sync that photo to the rest. This way I know all the photos look the same and will flow well through the video.

After I’m done I make sure my ratings are in and go to the slideshow panel where I prepare the video with music. Then I’m done! You can see my step by step process for creating a video in Lightroom here. It’s so easy!

I’m doing it again this year but I’m going to try a new perspective. Either way, I know I’ll get photos I want. This is true not only for Christmas, but anytime my girls and I are doing an activity. I’d rather put the camera on the tripod and let it do the work. Sure the shots may not be artistic or varied in perspective, but I captured the moments. That’s the important part to me.

Here’s the video! Go out and capture your memories but be involved in them too.

Baking Kipfuls from Kathleen Scott on Vimeo.

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