How to Take Dreamy Portraits with Christmas Lights

Looking to have a little bit of fun with your camera this holiday season? As it turns out, all it takes is a spare set of string lights to really bring a photograph to life:

Irene Rudnyk shows her followers just how easy it is to put together an imaginative setup from the comfort of her living room. To set the scene, she strategically hangs her string lights from the ceiling adjacent to a large window. The window benefits the shot by bringing in supplementary light, while simultaneously casting two distinct, contrasting tones to create a more dynamic end product.

christmas light portrait

Creating layers of bokeh with string lights

Once satisfied with her surroundings, Rudnyk brings in her model. Using a Canon 85mm f/1.2 prime lens, she opts to open the aperture all the way to f/1.2. Consequently, each individual bulb is instantly transformed into an orb of bright, white light. The bokeh successfully creates the illusion of depth in the foreground and background without taking attention away from the model.

From there, Rudnyk explains, it’s all a matter of experimentation. Slight adjustment and repositioning is required to adapt to variable elements such as incoming sunlight. Luckily, string lights are flexible enough to effortlessly frame her subject matter.

Finally, she stresses the importance of props. Not only do they effectively tie the scene together, they also aid in conveying a story through the photograph.

portraits with christmas lights

ISO 500, 1/250, f/1.2

Rudnyk proves a very important point through this setup in that making an eye-catching photograph doesn’t have to be painstaking. Sometimes, all it takes to get great results is a quick re-exploration of the objects and space that’s readily available.

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