How to Take Pictures of Christmas Lights With Your iPhone

Kari Livesay


It’s Christmas time, and that means it’s time to snap tons of photos of all of the twinkling lights. You might not always have your fancy camera with all of the gadgets, do-dads, and settings your DSLR has to offer available, but you do have your iPhone. Check out these quick tips for getting a great photograph of sparkling holiday lights with your camera phone.

Capturing Beautiful Photos of Christmas Lights with Your iPhone-01

Best time of day

Want to take a scroll-stopping shot? It’s all about capturing the right moment at the right time of day. For Christmas lights, that’s typically dusk. Your best bet is to shoot between when the sun begins to set and a half-hour after sunset, right before it gets completely dark.

After you’ve taken your photos, show them off with a festive holiday video. Use our Christmas Greeting template and swap out the video clip of twinkling lights on the tree for one of your own.

Best position

If you happen to have a tripod on hand when you see a dazzling display of Christmas lights — perfect! However, for those moments when you don’t have photography equipment with you, you’ll want to remember to remain steady. Brace your arm and tuck in your elbows close to your body to reduce shake.

If you nailed the shot, use our Simple Holiday Story template to create a quick and merry Story to highlight your work and spread the joy of the season. If you didn’t get the perfect image, we’ve got you covered.

The Select stock library on our Professional plan features 1 million+ photos and videos from Getty Images, and the Premium library on our Professional Plus plan offers 100 million+ photos and video clips, making it easy to find the perfect shimmering shot for your video.

Best photography apps

While there’s no hard and fast rule about focusing your photo, we’re fans of bokeh when it comes to capturing holiday lights. Focus on something in the foreground to create that desirable out-of-focus look on the lights in the background. If you want to get a photo of the lights in focus, a wide landscape image is a great choice.

Whether you’re a professional or aspiring photographer, use our Mini Photo Session template to let your work speak for itself and attract prospective customers. We’ve included both bokeh and wide landscape shots of Christmas lights in the below example for inspiration.

Best apps to try out

Experiment with something new and try downloading an app that offers one or some of the following features:

  • Shutter speed, ISO, white balance, and manual focus controls
  • Option to shoot in RAW format
  • Macro mode for capturing close-up photos
  • Long Exposure and Night Trails mode

Popular apps include Camera+2, Halide, and NightCap. After testing out your new photography apps and snagging stellar photos, use your photos to ring in the new year with our New Year’s Greeting template.

Make your thank you message undeniably yours by creating watermark-free videos, a feature offered for all paid Animoto subscriptions.

Best photo-taking strategy

The more options, the better. That’s why burst mode is a go-to strategy. Use the iPhone’s burst mode to snap a bunch of pictures at one time. Go back later and pick out your favorite from the bunch.

Choose your top picks from your photo burst and include them in a Happy New Year’s Story. Upload your favorite photos to Animoto, and use some of the images already featured in the template for a quick, easy, and beautiful Story.

Start video making

Now that you know how to take stunning photos of Christmas lights, it’s time to start flaunting your new skills in your holiday videos. Join our private Facebook group, the Animoto Social Video Marketing Community, for more tips and inspiration from other creators like you. Happy video making!