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 and learn how to take pictures of Christmas lights with your phone!

Capturing Beautiful Photos of Christmas Lights with Your iPhone-01

Know what you're looking for? Jump to any of the sections linked below to learn how to nail your holiday photos on the first shot!

How to take pictures of Christmas lights with your phone

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. Then you can go back later and pick out your favorite from the bunch.

Best lighting and time of day

Want to take a scroll-stopping shot? It’s all about capturing the right moment in the right light. A slow exposure is needed to capture darker and illuminated areas. Make sure flash is off and night mode is on.

Naturally, the best time to photograph Christmas lights is 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.

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. Don't be afraid to take close-ups too for a dazzling, bright, and unique photo.

But even if you didn’t get the perfect image, we’ve got you covered.

The stock library on Animoto's Professional and Teams plans feature 1 million+ photos and videos from Getty Images, making it easy to find the perfect shimmering shot for your video.

How to focus

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.

Best photography 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.

Turn your dazzling photos into videos

With Animoto, all you have to do is drag and drop your photos into one of our pre-made templates. In just a few minutes, you will have turned your photos into a professional video filled with holiday cheer! Try it for free by using any of the templates linked below.

Mini Photo Session

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.

Christmas Greeting

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.

Simple Holiday Story

Once you've 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. Don't forget to keep it on brand with your logo and font too!

New Year's Greeting

After testing out your new photography tips and snagging stellar photos, use your photos to ring in the new year with the New Year’s Greeting template.

New Year's Story

The Happy New Year’s Story template is great for sharing on TikTok or in Instagram Reels or Stories. Just upload your favorite photos to Animoto, and use some of the images already featured in the template for a quick, easy, and beautiful story to celebrate the new year.

Make a light-filled holiday video with Animoto

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. Try out any of our holiday video templates for free and see what you can come up with! Happy video making and happy holidays!