FUN PHOTOS TO DO AT HOME / CORONA VIRUS DAYS
I hope this post finds you and your families well! As the corona days drag on I am constantly struggling to keep up on “normal” life. My littlest baby turned 4 last week and due to stay at home orders, I couldn’t take her out to do birthday photos. I know there are a lot of you in the same boat, so I thought I’d share some easy ideas on DIY birthday photos.
Not only will this save you money and check something off your to-do list, this can be a fun activity for you and the kiddos! Kylie had a lot of fun dressing up and playing for photos.
Without further ado, here are some of my favorite easy DIY at home photo setups. I’ll go over the setup first, and then camera settings after. Keep in mind, I teach primarily DSLR camera tutorials (so while you could try using a phone camera, these are mainly meant for people with a professional grade DSLR.)
- Use a wall inside your home. There’s something about the simplicity of a cute kiddo against a blank wall! Look for the brightest, airy-est (is that a word?) room in your house that has a blank wall. Either have your child stand or sit on a cute chair or bench. Try printing out a large number (#4 in this case) for your kiddo to hold and goof around with. Don’t be afraid to let them be silly! Get a few “normal” photos of them standing and holding the number, but then let them goof around and let their personalities show through.^^ ISO 1250 | 2.8 aperture | 1/160 shutter speed | 28-70mm 2.8 lens (Not sure what lens to use? Check out our article here on Krista’s favorite lenses)
- Use party decorations. If you were planning a birthday party and already have some decorations, now would be a great time to pull them out! Use some easily removable tape or commando hooks to affix them to the wall. Have your kiddo sit or stand under the decorations. Balloons are great to pile around kiddos for this setup as well! ^^ ISO 2000 | 2.8 aperture | 1/125 shutter speed | 28-70mm 2.8 lens
- Pile all of your child’s stuffed animals or toys on their beds. This is such a fun setup for your kiddos. What better way to create memories than to photograph them with all of their most prized toys and stuffed animals? Open all blinds and curtains in your child’s room, shut off artificial lights, and pile everything on the bed. After you have done a few test photos with your camera (see below) plop kiddo down in the middle and snap away. As standard practice, I highly recommend NOT putting your child in the scene until everything is 100% ready as their patience usually wears off quickly, lol. Need help getting your kiddo to smile naturally? Check out our article here.^^ ISO 1000 | 2.8 aperture | 1/125 shutter speed | 28-70mm 2.8 lens
- Sitting on the ground looking up. Here’s another super easy setup that captures their eyes and chunky little faces so well! Sit them down on the ground facing a large window in your house (just make sure there’s no direct splotches of sunlight coming through the window, we don’t want to blind them..) Leave enough space for you to stand in between your kiddo and the window. Have them look up at you, and capture close ups of those sweet little smiles and sparkling eyes!^^ ISO 500 | 1.4 aperture | 1/200 shutter speed | 50mm lens
- Outdoor photos. Weather permitting, head outside for some photos! The best time to do this is first thing in the morning or about 30 minutes before sunset. You want to avoid the middle of the day, as lighting becomes super bright and harsh. Our yard is fairly small, so I used a young tree that was close to the ground, or you could also use flowering bushes, front steps, or even sitting on a blanket in the grass. You’ll want to make sure that your kiddo is not in bright sun. You’ll want them in bright shade or if it is close to sunset/sunrise, you can put them in the open with their back to the sun. Goof around, be silly, sing songs, and capture their sweet little personalities! …Whew this child’s hair. LOL someone please teach me how to style curly hair??!
^^ ISO 125 | 1.8 aperture | 1/800 shutter speed | 85 mm lens
Setup + Camera Settings
Now that we have ideas of what we want to do, let’s chat about camera and room settings! The best thing about owning a DSLR camera, is you control the outcome, rather than it controlling you. I prefer to shoot on all manual (I’ll teach you how to do that later) but for now we’re going to keep it simple. I’m going to give you my settings to get you in the ballpark and you may need to tweak up or down from there. Keep in mind that settings can vary a bit because they are based on how bright or dark your specific room is, and how bright it is outside (which constantly changes!)
First, let’s chat really quick about setting up photos in an indoor room. When you shoot inside a house, it’s a little less than ideal but still can deliver some great results! At our studio, we have huge windows, neutral walls, and empty, open spaces + sometimes artificial color balanced lighting. Your home is obviously not going have all of those characteristics, but we’re going to get as close as we can to mimicking an in-studio look. In general you’re looking for areas in your home that have bright natural light but do NOT have big splotches of direct sunlight or big shadows. If you’re doing a photo against a wall, clear anything off the floor and walls for a simplistic, clean look. Turn off all indoor lights if possible as they have an orangish-yellow color that will turn your photos odd colors. If you’re shooting on the floor or on a bed, be sure to tidy up the area to remove any distracting elements. If possible, avoid areas with outlets or cords in the background. Once you have the area ready, get your DSLR camera and let’s dial in your settings!
For indoor photos, you most likely will have to use a higher ISO. ISO in a nutshell is how sensitive your camera is to low lighting. I would start by setting my ISO to 800. You may have to up this if your photos are still too dark or blurry. Set your camera function to AV (aperture priority… usually one of the top spinning wheels on the camera depending on your camera model). Set white balance to the little cloud icon or to AWB (auto white balance). Lastly, dial your aperture as low as it will go (probably your other spinning wheel depending on camera model- if not, consult your manual for how to change your aperture). I usually use low aperture prime lenses especially indoors to get crisp details with a soft blurred background (see article on my favorite lenses here!)
Take a test shot. How does it look? If it’s too dark, change your ISO setting to 1600 or 3200. If it’s too bright, change your ISO setting to 400 or 200. You’ll want to try to steady your hands as best as possible while taking indoor photos. Usually the shutter speed will be a bit slower indoors, which can result in blurred images. (Jumping around and trying to be silly for your kiddos will exaggerate this!) So keep this in mind, usually if I concentrate on keeping my hands steady I greatly reduce any blurry shots.
For outdoor photos, everything will remain the same as above, but you’ll probably want to use ISO 200 or 400. Once you’re done taking the photos, show ’em off! You can either take them straight to social media or I usually pull them into Photoshop for a few quick finishing touches (brightness, color, maybe edit out a blemish). See article on that here 🙂
Need more help learning to use your DSLR? Sign up for our class here (coming soon)!
I hope this article helps you save some money and capture some beautiful photos of your babies!
P.S…. I’d love to see your photos! Tag us on Instagram #RealLifeCaptured 🙂