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5 holiday photo tips from the Ulta Beauty Studio Team

Create beautiful holiday photos you’ll love—

and have fun doing it!

‘Tis the season...for taking pics! We often have guests ask about holiday photo makeup or just generally how to look good in holiday photos. So, we interviewed our Studio Team—the experts who shoot all the beautiful images you see in Ulta Beauty stores, the magazine, our website and social media—and rounded up their super savvy advice here. We hope this helps and that you have the best time taking these photos. Make sure to tag us in your holiday pics so we can see how wonderful they come out!

1. Apply your usual makeup—plus a few photo-ready steps.

Above all: You want to look and feel like you, so start with your usual makeup routine. But since lighting and cameras can sometimes be tricky (for example, washing out your features), consider some photo-ready extras to ensure the camera picks everything up. A couple ideas:

  • Consider a hydrating skincare layer, like face oil. Well hydrated skin glows on camera.
  • Apply some subtle contour beneath your cheekbones and anywhere else you want to define.
  • Shimmery, metallic eye shadows and highlighters will catch the light and add depth.
  • A few individual lashes can help frame your eyes.

2. Choose a vibe and backdrop that reflects your personality.

Keep it simple and authentic to you and your family. Outdoorsy? Find a spot on a trail you love. (Don’t forget a spray-on, nongreasy sunscreen.) Love all things cozy? Shoot at home in a dreamy, loungey area complete with rosy cheeks for a “warmed by the fire” effect. Glamourous? Go all out with disco balls, party feels and a bold red lip. The more authentic it feels to you and your family, the more joyful the experience will be and the more you will love and cherish the photos.

3. Note sure what to wear? Try this.

We don’t believe in wardrobe rules aside from making sure you feel great and true to you. But if you don’t know where to start, here are some ideas: Choose a simple color palette and skip bold patterns that can be hard to pair up. Even if you plan to match within a color palette, let everyone show their personality. Add variety through textures like denim, a fluffy vest, a knit sweater, a sequin top or suede jacket. Depth and dimension add visual interest to photos.

4. Camera phone pics can be amazing too.

No photographer booked? That’s okay, you got this! Select the selfie-facing camera in portrait mode for crisp, balanced images. Use the timer to snap the image. Consider shooting outdoors at golden hour (aka sunset) for the best natural lighting. Avoid midday sunlight as it will wash out your photo. Face into the light to avoid hard shadows on your face. Shooting inside? Gather by a window for natural lighting and keep a white sheet handy in case you need to diffuse too-bright sunlight. Tripods are super helpful, but a cake stand can do the trick in a pinch too.

5. Most importantly: Have fun!

Breathe. Relax. Enjoy. If you’re stressed, it will show in the photos. But more importantly, you deserve to enjoy this experience and leave with images you love. Let the photo tell a story, even if it’s a silly one. Let your kids or pets run wild and take the pic anyway. Be present. Have fun. And let your inner joy shine through.