Crowdtap Updates

HOW TO: Create Cozy Lighting Effects with Holiday Lights

What’s the best way to add a bit of flare to your photos this holiday season? (Hint: It’s NOT wearing tacky antlers or finding a mall Santa to pose with.)

Instead, it combines two things you’re probably doing already: decorating your house (don’t forget to show us!) and snapping candids of family and friends. Yep, we’re talking about using those charming holiday lights to add a bit of cozy ambiance to your shots!

Read on for tips to ensure great shots with your seasonal lighting.

Judge your lighting. While we love the warm glow of holiday lights – colorful or classic – they aren’t always enough on their own.

Red Lights

To avoid a night vision-esque nightmare like the above photo, check your lighting by trying a few shots in different angles, and then turning on additional lights as needed. We’d recommend you turn on lights that are behind you or out of the frame for a more natural brightening, like in this glowing photo.

Better Brightness

Play with your focus. Once your lighting is set, try some different focus points. The warm, fuzzy look of an exposed light slightly out-of-focus brings on some cheery feelings.

Little Tree

Here, the focus is on the lettered ornaments, making the colored bulbs fuzz and cast charming lens flares across the branches. A good way to try this is focusing on something near your lights. If they’re on a Christmas tree, focus on an ornament close by. If they’re hanging around the house, capture a family member doing something — like cooking, sipping a drink, or chatting with another family member — where their light falls!

Let the strings loose. While lights strung up or wrapping a tree make for a cozy ambiance around the house, there’s nothing like a loose string of lights entertaining someone adorable.

Vania G

While background lights keep this Tapper photo bright, this strand of bulbs tangled around this sweet nugget makes us especially merry!


Here, the string of lights in a darker room cast a warm shadow across the floor, leading right up to the rambunctious kitten who has found himself a new toy.


Any tips we missed? Share in the comments below! Then, go give it a shot yourselves in this week’s Thumbs Up Thursday photo mission.

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Tammy Ward

i love reading all the tips they are very helpful to me

sharon kingsley

great ideas


Love it


Warm holiday lighting and make it as personal as possible


amazing pictures


Nice ideas!

Corinne Becker

Fun tips. Like the idea of using loose strings of light for special effect.

vern hoffman

safe holiday lights

Stephanie sprouse

Great ideas


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