You’ll do your loved ones and your photos a favor if you can avoid the use of flash on Christmas morning. Using flash will drown out your Christmas tree lights and flatten the faces of your subjects, so whether you’re using a point-and-shoot camera or an SLR, keep that strobe from firing.
If you’re using a point-and-shoot camera, look for the button with the little lightning bolt arrow and press it until a slash appears over the flash icon in your display. If you’re using an SLR, your camera probably won’t raise the flash on its own unless you have it set to full auto. You don’t have to set the camera to manual to avoid full auto; even setting it to P (program) mode will give you control over the flash.
What if, like in the room where I took the photos below, there isn’t enough light to hold the camera steady enough to get a clear photo? Steady the camera on a tripod, end table, or the arm of a sofa and you can shoot long exposures without camera shake. Those of you using “fast 50” prime lenses probably won’t have that problem, though, and you’ll enjoy a shallow depth of focus in your pictures (where your subject is in focus but the background is blurred).
The photos below were shot at ISO 400 and f/2.8 aperture. In the first, the flash did not fire and the speed was 1/6 second. In the second, the flash did fire and the speed was 1/60 second. I performed no post-production on the images.
A reminder: When you’re taking pictures of your kids, remember to get the camera down to their eye level. That perspective makes for a more appealing photo.
Lastly, have a Merry Christmas!