How to Photograph Thanksgiving Like a Pro

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and I know that many of you will be taking photographs to capture the memories of the holiday. Thanksgiving has got to be one of my favorite holidays. The food, the family, and the feeling of fall in the air all come together to make for the perfect day! So it’s always important for me to document this special time of year. Here are some of my favorite tips that will help you photograph Thanksgiving this year!


This is a no brainer! You went to all that hard work to prepare an amazing meal for your loved ones so you better bet that I want you to include it when you photograph Thanksgiving. There are a lot of ways to get creative with this shot! I really like to play around with my perspective. It is always important to get a good shot from above so that you can really highlight all the work the went into setting your table. With shots from above you are able to get a great image of all the food and the decor on your table. Having family seated around the table (maybe holding hands) always enhances the storytelling in your Thanksgiving photography.

Photographing Thanksgiving Apple Pie Making

I also like to get some shots from the side. Its nice to get shots of people’s faces as they sit around the table. Maybe a shot of the turkey being carved, or a thanksgiving toast or blessing. Be sure to document the joy and conversation that ensues as people gather around the table.

You can also get some cute shots under the table. Maybe a child is giving a pet a treat! They are part of the family too right?


Since we are going to include photographs of the dinner table in our Thanksgiving photography it is also important to document how we got there. Try to capture the love that went into creating this beautiful meal. A big part of the fun of Thanksgiving is in the meal prep. Working together with family, laughing and enjoying each other’s company in the kitchen is all part of the magic of Thanksgiving. Try to get shots that document these special moments. Perhaps a classic shot of mom pulling the Turkey out of the oven? Or a shot of the cousins working together to make the pumpkin pie. Whatever traditions you have in your family when it comes to meal prep it is great to include them in your Thanksgiving photography.


Now that you have documented the before it’s important to document the after. This is the time when the notorious “turkey coma” sets in. Everyone is relaxed and you can get some great shots of family snuggling together or even napping. These will make for wonderful family memories for year to come. 

And don’t forget to capture those wonderful Thanksgiving dinner leftovers. If you have family members like mine them you can almost bet that someone will be making a turkey sandwich before the end of the evening!


In case I haven’t beat it over your head enough already be sure to capture family when you photograph Thanksgiving. Many people travel far and wide for Thanksgiving and you may have the opportunity to photograph family all together that you don’t get the rest of the year. I find that family makes the biggest effort to get together for this holiday more than any other time of the year…even Christmas. Christmas is a little bit more of an intimate holiday and families want to be home so that they can unwrap their gifts and spend the day playing with their new toys.

I always find it touching to capture the old and the young together. These are precious moments that you will want to share with your children as they grow older. What wonderful memories of them to have with their grandparents. These photographs can also make great presents for family members come Christmas time. If your family does an annual Christmas card maybe this is your chance to get your shot!


We always love to make caramel apples this time of year!

Does your family have special Thanksgiving traditions? I know lots of families enjoy the football game, or even playing their own game of foot ball. When I was a child my family love charades and we kids even did a little performance every year. My mother fondly named it “The Couchside Theater.” But guess what? I have zero photographs of it which makes me sad. So whatever special traditions your family has be sure to include them in your Thanksgiving photography.

Does your family put up the Christmas tree that day after Thanksgiving? My parents were always appalled at putting up the tree that early, but now that I have my own family and home I can’t get that puppy up fast enough! If you are like me don’t forget to capture this special tradition, especially if you still have family in town!


Don’t forget to capture the little things when you photograph Thanksgiving. Fall decor and colors really make this a special time of year. I love all the pumpkins, leaves and turkey decorations that people set out. Whether they are decorations hand crafted by your children, or the seasonal pumpkin candle holders that mom sets on the Thanksgiving table year after year, they are an important part of what goes into the magic of Thanksgiving. Every year my mother in law has butter molded in the shape of a turkey. A lot of work goes into cultivating that feeling of cozy!



When you photograph Thanksgiving look for the special moments, the ones that bring joy to your heart and tell your special family story. Capture the memories that people will laugh at when they look at them 10 Thanksgivings from now, or the memories they will cherish of loved ones who may have passed on. And last but not least, don’t forget to put your camera away and enjoy the moments too. I like to have a safe place where I can easily tuck my camera away but that I can access quickly. I bring my camera out and try to get some quick snaps of the important moments and then put it away and enjoy the day.

  • The Table – Capture the family enjoying the beautiful meal everyone work so hard to create.
  • The Prep – Try to document the love that went into preparing all the food and the joy of family working together in the kitchen
  • After the Meal – Look for the nappers and snugglers as everyone settles down to relax.
  • Capture Family – Focus of that family connections, especially between the old and the young or family members you may not see very often. Don’t forget these images can make for great Christmas gifts or cards!
  • Family Traditions – Does your family have special traditions that you do every year? 
  • Capture the Details – Capture the little things that cultivate that feeling of cozy. Hand crafted decorations, special table settings, or just the beauty of the Fall season.

Hopefully these tips inspire you to capture the special moments this Thanksgiving. I guarantee that you will not regret having these memories to cherish for years to come. If you are looking for more ways to document the Fall Season be sure to check out my post Tips to Rock Your Fall Photography. Good luck and enjoy the holiday!



P.S. I’m participating in a fun blog circle with my friend Michele. Check out her post! She is a Minneapolis Photographer and she has written all about the power of the photograph!

Ruth Young is a fine art portrait photographer and photography educator located in Culpeper, Virginia. She photographs her daily life with her 5 small children and has a passion for teaching photography. For more about Ruth follow her on Instagram where she posts daily.



  1. Such beautiful images! Have a lovely Thanksgiving.

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Hi! I'm Ruth!

Welcome to my blog where I share all things photography related. I am a fine art photographer and photography instructor and mentor. I am also the mother to five wild little children who I homeschool. We love to explore nature while I take photographs along the way!

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