I live in the middle of nowhere and my family is a one car family. My husband has our vehicle the majority of the time and this messes with things a bit. I don’t have some deep-seeded passion for photography, I don’t consider myself a professional, or even marginally good at it. With all of that said, between not having a vehicle and having a significant unwillingness to pay a good amount of money for a professional photographer – I have resorted to taking them myself. I’ve actually ended up quite satisfied the past few attempts that I have made.
This year my husband I are doing Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover and since I am following that religiously I needed to come up with a few more ways to DIY things on the cheap but keep it looking at least semi-professional. A few months ago I purchased my first DSLR camera (used) from our friend Joanna and I’ve had a lot of fun capturing moments of my daughter. Like this one:
All tinted blue from Mommy’s homemade fingerpaint. Mercy.
This post won’t be me claiming that I am rockstar of home photography, but it will be a few tips and tricks that I’ve discovered so you can pull off a mildly-professional looking picture on the cheap. (Or free… Thanks to PicMonkey.)
I have a handful of professional photographer friends who are probably reeling at me for posting this – and let me say to all of you – totally love you and respect you. One of you shot my wedding, one of you shot my engagement pictures, another shot our newborn photos. And anytime you guys want to fly on out to good ole Wyoming and hook me up on the cheap (free) I’m all for it. 🙂
Let’s get down to it. Here’s the “props” that I created for Emma’s 1st Birthday Pictures:
1) A white sheet as my backdrop. It was horribly wrinkly and I had to do some serious editing in order to at least mask the wrinkles a little. So, probably best to make sure your’s isn’t so wrinkly. 🙂
2) A homemade smash cake & gifted cake stand. My sweet niece Reagi bought the cake stand for me a few Christmases ago because, “Auntie Kels makes A LOT of cakes.” I held onto it and it worked perfectly for this little girly photo shoot. The smash cake was a funfetti recipe that I found on Pinterest and just little swirls of pink buttercream. Don’t worry – I’ll be doing a 1st Birthday Cake post next week.
3) DIY Ribbon Banners. I have a ton of ribbon laying around my house from previous projects. I just cut up a bunch of strips, gave them their points, and glued them over a piece of white yarn. Super easy!
4) DIY Chalkboard Art. You can find my tutorial here on how to accomplish your own. I free-handed this, however. I wasn’t too in the mood for tracing. I would highly recommend using chalkboard markers to ensure that your artwork shows up in the pictures very well! Make this your own!
5) DIY Necklace & Headband. I have a ton of these little lacy headbands floating around so I sacrificed one (Not so much a of a sacrifice. They cost like $0.60 ….) and glued a DIY’d ribbon rosette on top. I wasn’t so concerned with sturdiness here because she was only wearing it for a brief few minutes. As far as the necklace goes, I’ve had this for a long time. I bought it when I was about 19? I can’t remember. I don’t really wear it anymore so I just took some pink satin ribbon and added it as a “tie” so that the necklace would have layers without me having to wrap it around her neck.
Here’s the How-To!
ONE: Get everything set up and take a few pictures without the baby. The very second I put the cake down for my daughter she had her hands and face in it … So if you want pictures of the cake definitely make sure the baby is preoccupied while you snap a few. By doing this you can also gauge how much *natural* light you have to work with. I recommend not using the flash on your camera as it will take away from the picture, cast a weird glare, and leave you unhappy. My natural light was piss-poor this day due to a snowstorm and I ended up having to do A LOT of messing with the light when I was editing.
TWO: Set your baby down WITHOUT the cake. At the point you want to just capture pictures of them by themselves and not covered in cake. I tried to do a few of her and the chalkboard but she was too interested in trying to scratch the chalkboard marker off. She has issues that one …
This is my favorite of the “before the cake” pictures.
THREE: Introduce … The Cake. If my husband were here that day I would have had him place the cake down so I was camera ready. So I highly recommend you have a friend or your spouse help you with giving the baby the cake. Because honestly, they’ll most likely dive right into it. Unless they’re like Danielle’s oldest who refused to get her hands and face dirty …
Had to throw that one in there. Too good not to.
After the cake is placed just keep snapping pictures. They probably won’t be too interested in looking AT you while they are eating a lifetime’s worth of frosting. So be patient, because once they start getting full of cake this happens:
FOUR: Just keep snapping away!
At this point I realized she was ready to be done. She wasn’t too into the cake and having her pictures taken and kept reaching for me. I took one more photo and called it a day. The whole session took 10-15 minutes.
After she was cleaned off and placed in her bed for naptime, I set out to edit. I was of course saddened when I discovered my picture quality due to the lack of light – despite ISO adjustment.
But, again, thanks to PicMonkey I was able to salvage them as best as possible.
Now, PicMonkey is FREE, but they do have an option for upgrading to the “Royale” package. (Which I have & love.) It is only $33 a year and if you take as many pictures as I do, it’s completely worth it. There are no extra charges or weird things happening with my credit card. Last March I purchased the Royale Package and I fully intend on signing up for another year. There’s truly no catch. And! It is very, very user friendly.
So! Are you ready for the challenge? If your child is coming up on their first (second, third, fourth, twenty-third….) birthday maybe you should bust out your own camera and have a little photo shoot at home. You’ll be surprised what a mommy or daddy can capture behind the lens.
Off to clean up my house a little before the sleeping beast, err I mean, sweet baby awakes.
P.S. Don’t forget to enter our $25.00 Etsy Giftcard Giveaway!