I am by no means a professional photographer…I’m just a mother with a DSLR who wanted to take as many awesome photos of her son as possible and stumbled upon a really fun hobby!
What I do know with certainty, is that even the most novice person with a camera can learn to take great photos of their children and family. This is a great skill to have as a mother because even if you have the time and resources to get professional photos taken often, do you want to be lugging your children around to photography studios or outdoor locations for those in between holidays like Valentine’s Day , St. Patrick’s Day or Fourth of July? I know I didn’t!
I’m here to share with you all the tips that I’ve learned over the last year from Googling things, asking friends who are photographers, and ultimately just practicing!
The best part is…You only need a few things to get started!
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- A garment rack. This one is from Target and only costs $20. The nice thing about it is that it’s adjustable upwards and outwards. You can fit larger backdrops depending on what photo you’re trying to take and you can also expand it if you want to take a portrait of an adult. The backdrop can either drape over the top or you can find something in your home to clip it to the rack. I usually just buy backdrops with a bit more length so I can just drape it over.
2. Backdrops. These are a few of my favorite ones from Pacon (Fadeless Bulletin Board Paper) but you can also get holiday specific ones if you’d like to spend the extra money somewhere like Lemon Drop Shop . Generally speaking, I use the weathered wood Pacon backdrop for mostly everything I take in my home. For the holidays, I’ll purchased a red Pacon for Valentines Day and green one for St. Patrick’s Day. Easter is up in the air and just depends on my mood that year!
3. Cute props! These items you just have to keep a look out and get when you find them. I LOVE the dollar spot and the art section at Target for these props. I can always find something adorable and holiday themed to use each year.
So now you have all your items and are ready to get started putting them together. Great!
You want to pick a room that has a lot of natural light coming in. Me personally, I don’t use my flash unless it’s night or a very, very dark and dreary day….and I try to avoid those days for photography completely. In my house, my sitting room is a great source of natural light as it has a large window on one side of the room. As I started getting into photography with my son, I noticed that the photos I took of him in this room were ten times better and clearer than any other room in the house.
Once you have decided which room to use, now you have to figure out where to set everything up to make the best use of the light. My advice is to either set up the garment rack and backdrop parallel to the window or on the opposite side of the room from the window. Whichever is going to give you the most room to move around your photography subject. For me, it worked better to be on the opposite side of the room.
Also, take note of what time of day your room of choice has the most sunlight. To avoid shadows on your subject and/or squinting eyes, avoid times of day that bring direct sun. It’s best to take photos when the sun is over your house and not shining into the window. Our sitting room faces East and so its best for me to take photos either early morning around 9 or 10am, or in the mid afternoon between 1-4pm, once the sun has moved up and over my home. If your room of choice has its light source facing a different direction you will have different results than I do with my room.
Here is what my “studio” looks like when its set up.
As you can see, the weathered wood Pacon backdrop is just draped over the top of the garment rack. If you want to have a blurred background, you will want to pull as much of the backdrop forward and place your subject as far from the garment rack as possible. Depending on what type of camera you have, and the settings you’re using, will determine how much of a blur you will get. I tend to alternate between pulling the backdrop forward and utilizing the nice hardwood flooring in this room. Once you have all this set up you’re good to go. Just remember to have fun! Snap quick and snap often! You can always go back and delete the bad photos where your baby looks like a drunkard (unless that is just me that always gets a handful of drunk baby pictures?) but you can’t get back moments you didn’t snap!
Here are a few examples taken last year with this set up. Please note, these were taken with the Nikon point and shoot not my current Canon DSLR (see below for camera details).
Weathered Wood Pacon Backdrop-
Colored Pacon Backdrops-
Looking for recommendations on a camera (obviously not included in the $50 studio cost!)
When I started taking photos in my home at the end of 2015, I had a Nikon CoolPix P530.
If you’re looking for a great little camera to take nice photos but aren’t quite ready for the DSLR life yet, I highly recommend this one. It was really easy to learn how to use and gave me some amazing photos for just being a point and shoot camera.
If you’re looking to upgrade from the point and shoot cameras but looking for a basic DSLR to get started on, I’d recommend my Canon Rebel T5. It’s got all the bells and whistles you need as a beginning photographer and Canon makes it easy to learn as you go.
One thing to note with moving to a DSLR camera is that a lot of the really amazing photos you can take will also depend on the lens you have. When I bought my Canon, it came with a standard kit lens. It works great for your everyday photos but I was looking for a bit more to get that really nice blurred background. I purchased this lens, Canon 50mm f/1.8, in addition to my camera and haven’t looked back since!