No season is as ripe with imagery to use in photos as Christmas time. From the holly and trees to the manger scenes to Santa and beyond, there are numerous options to include in your photo23- shoots. Here’s 3 tips to creating a perfect winter backdrop for your photos.

1. Nothing beats reality

A mall photographer might station a family in front of a screen with a fireplace printed on it, and while that can work in a pinch, finding a real hearth to serve as your backdrop will make for a much better photograph. And if there’s a fireplace, there will be a mantle. The mantle is a chance to really personalize your shot. You could put a trophy or award up there, or perhaps an old Christmas heirloom from generations back. Clocks or nativity scenes can also help take the mantle to the next level.

A Christmas tree can be a nice backdrop too. Take care to decorate the tree in a way that brings out your or your family’s personalities.

2. Consider the lights

Christmas lights are beautiful. When a scene is well-decorated it may serve as a nice backdrop for a photo but be careful. It is hard to see Christmas lights until the sun is going down, and when the sun is going down, there’s less available light for taking good photographs. There is a sweet spot of time, though, when this difficult type of shot can be arranged. Hiring a professional photographer who knows your area is key for getting this right.

3. Remember the star

Not the star of Bethlehem, but YOU! You are the star of your photos and your hair, makeup and wardrobe all play against the backdrop you choose. If you’re standing against a snowy field, that bright white sweater might not be the right choice. Similarly, if you’re in a darkened room before a stone fireplace, gray may not be the idea color for your clothes.

Don’t forget to dress in layers both to stay warm and to give yourself multiple outfit combinations throughout your shoot.

Follow these tips and you’ll have Christmas memories to share for years to come.