Christmas Market Photography Challenge!

6 ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

Photographers, gear up for a festive challenge! Step into the vibrant world of Switzerland’s Christmas markets, where every stall, light, and candid moment is just waiting to be captured.

In this blog post, we’re extending a challenge to you: unlock the magic of the season through your lens by taking your best-ever photos of your local Christmas market. (Not sure where yours is? Find it here.)

Tag @swissphotoclub on Instagram for the chance to be featured.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Beautiful Bokeh

Capture the twinkling lights of the market stalls, creating a beautiful bokeh effect in the background.

Shooting bokeh is easy: place your subject at least 2-3m in front of the lights, then set your lens to its biggest zoom, your aperture to its smallest number, then get as close as possible to your subject.

Focus on the details

Embrace the magic of simplicity and uncover the subtle details that can tell a story as enchanting as a much busier composition–if not more so.

Look for an ornament that catches your eye, the gentle glow of a lone candle, a street sign covered in snow, or another quiet wonder that stands out to you amid the holiday hustle & bustle.


6 Christmas shoot December 09 2021 DSC2807 2
Photo credit: Seerat Singh, SPC Academy alumna

On the other hand, sometimes more is better! Capture a sense of abundance by composing a photo with lots to look at. When you skillfully embrace the busyness, you can turn chaos into art. With maximalist compositions, the rule of thirds need not apply. Instead, think about creating a composition with a distinct foreground, middle ground, and background.

Scrumptious Still Life

Before you dig in, arrange some of your delicious holiday treats for a quick shoot. Find the composition that best shows off the colors and details of your festive finds. Keep in mind that while some compositions look striking from above, many subjects (especially those with more depth) benefit from a lower angle.

Santa’s Helpers

Every person working at the Christmas market has a role in bringing the magic to life for us. So give them their place of honor in your photography! Turn your lens towards the hands of a vendor wrapping a gift, the expressions of a performer lost in the music, or the energy of the carousel operator preparing to delight a line of children.

To catch key moments even when light is low, a “fast” prime lens is great (for example a 35mm f/1.8, 50mm f/1.8 or an 85mm f/1.8). Consider setting your camera to burst mode if your subject is moving to increase your chances of getting the shot just right.

Luminous Landscapes

Just like any landscape, light here is critical: if you can, try to plan your shoot for the golden hour, just before sunset. Then use a wide-angle lens to capture the whole market scene.

Use a tripod and a slow shutter speed to blur the movement of people while keeping fixtures like huts and stalls sharp. Consider using pathways or string lights to add leading lines to your composition, or frame your shot using archways, windows, or decorative elements within the market to add depth and context.

Take Better Photos

If you want to take your photography to the next level, join us at one of our upcoming photography classes for all levels. We guarantee we can get you taking better photos. Come see why we’re the #1 photography school in Switzerland, and why we’ve earned EduQua quality certification since 2019.

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Joan Berns

Joan Berns

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