Creating your own Valentine’s Day Photo shoot from home can save a lot of money. With V Day and D Day (delivery day!) quickly approaching, mixed with a little Nashville Cabin Fever from the recent Snowpocalypse, I decided it would be the perfect day to snap some much needed photos of the girls before their little bro makes his way into this world in THREE weeks!
Now, I’m no professional photographer, but I think I do a pretty good job of capturing my children’s personalities. Not to mention, these were FREE and who doesn’t like that?
So this post will cover how you can set up, photograph, and edit your very own photos for Valentine’s Day from the comfort of your home without spending a dime!
1. Choose a Location
This is important if you want semi-professional looking photos. This may require rearranging some things, but the best background is just a blank wall and if you have a place to live, you probably have a wall.
Another option, if you fill your walls with stuff and can’t find a blank one, is to hang a sheet. If you choose this option, please iron the sheet before hanging it. There’s nothing like a wrinkly background to ruin your photos.
Another option is to use fabric or a blanket with a cool pattern. I tried to use my fireplace as my background and I didn’t like it, so I ended up ironing a white sheet, stretching it, and taping it across my fireplace to create a blank canvas.
Lighting is probably one the most important elements, if not the most important, to taking a good photo. Without light, your picture will not turn out well. So if you’re choosing to photograph in your basement, you might want to reconsider. Choose a room in your home that gets a lot of natural light. I chose my living room. With it’s vaulted ceilings and extra windows, it was the optimal location for setup. If you don’t have a lot of natural light in your house, you can always take the photoshoot outdoors or add lamps. I’ll also show you how you can correct the lighting a bit after taking your photos.
3. Give Yourself Props!
Props are important. Look around your house to see if you already have things you can use. I found a stool with a heart on it so I thought that could make a cute prop. My youngest daughter also had a red tricycle I thought would be cute. I always have construction paper around too, which made for the perfect backdrop for our photoshoot. How easy is it to cut out hearts? After cutting them, we strung them on some glittery yarn.
It’s helpful to think about the poses and photos you’d like to get out of your shoot ahead of time. This helps cut back on time since you’re dealing with wiggly kiddos that may not be able to sit still for long. In fact, after taking one photo, my three year-old said, “Okay, all done!” Well…not quite.
That leads me to the all important step 5.
When dealing with children that don’t want to do something, it’s important to have a bribe prepared. In my case, it was leftover Christmas chocolate. It’s a win/win! They do what I say AND I get rid of old chocolate. Did it work? Why, yes….it did. It also made for a cute “after” photo – a reminder of why I’m such a good mother.
So what do you do if you don’t own a camera? Use your smart phone! The cameras in smart phones these days are awesome. You don’t need a high tech, fancy shmancy, top-of-the-line professional or even semi-pro camera. All you need is some good lighting, your smart phone, and a good app.
If you do have a camera though, bust that bad boy out! I just received a lovely new Canon for Christmas from my handsome man. He sure knows my heart!
How did mine turn out? Lets just say I’m thankful for chocolate and I think they turned out way better than the pictures I PAID to have a local photographer take before Christmas.
And because throwbacks are always fun, here are some Smooch worthy photos from years past:
I usually use Photoshop Elements to edit the photos from my camera, but being 8 1/2 months pregnant and exhausted from setting up the photo shoot, I resorted to the use of three different apps on my phone:
- PS Express (a mini version of Photoshop)
2. AirBrush (for skin smoothing and teenage pimple removal)
3. Snapseed (my favorite because it’s very versatile!)
Another good app for getting that bokeh (fuzzy background) is the Tadaa app. Just spend some time playing with your pictures. I always need to edit the faces of my subjects because they always need a bit of brightening since I don’t have proper lighting. I use the AirBrush app to brighten faces or the Snapseed app which has a “portrait” action that does a great job.
In closing, I will say it does not have to be difficult to take cute pictures of your kids. I am nowhere near a professional photographer, but I think I have a pretty good eye and I am never disappointed when I attempt taking pictures of my kids.
Keep your eyes open because in about 3 weeks, I will be taking pictures with my camera like the Papparazzi after Britney Spears shaved head. My sweet little boy is finally making his debut and you can be sure he will be well documented and well smooched, Valentine’s Day or not. 🙂