One of the quintessential back-to-school milestones is School Picture Day.
Parents love primping their kids, putting them in exactly the right outfit, doing their hair perfectly, giving explicit instructions on how to smile nicely for the camera…and nine times out of ten, they don’t turn out very good. But you pay an arm and a leg anyway, because it’s nice to have a professional photo of your kids every year.
But I’ve got a better idea. Why not skip the stress and take your own “school photos” at home? They’re a fraction of the cost and a fraction of the hassle…so you can breeze through School Picture Day without batting an eye.
Try these tips for taking beautiful portraits at home — even if the only camera you have is your smartphone!
Use natural light. You don’t need to invest in a fancy schmancy lighting rig when you’ve got Mother Nature’s best lighting kit right at your fingertips. Remember this tip: you always want to have the light source facing your subject, which means it will be at your (the photographer’s) back. Find the biggest window in your home and set up your photo shoot there.
Keep it stable. Keeping the camera stable helps to create a crisp, clear photo. If you have a tripod, definitely use it! If you don’t, you can make your own DIY version by setting up a stack of books or boxes. Rest your camera on top of the books while you’re shooting.
Use a neutral background. Part of what makes school portraits look so professional is the clean background. Make your own version by pinning up a freshly ironed sheet for a similar look. You can also create your own cool backdrops, if you’re crafty!
Get on their level. Instead of shooting from above, make sure your camera is level with your child’s face. You want the shot to be straight-on, not pointing downward.
Get silly with it. Most photographers will position your child, point the camera at them, say “smile!”…and that will be that. But you’re not most photographers, now are you? Instead of making the experience awkward, just talk to your child. Have them tell you a story. Ask them what their favorite movie is. Tell them to think about their favorite birthday present. Get them into a fun, happy state of mind and the smiles will come naturally.
Be snap happy. You never know when that perfect moment is going to hit your child, so be ready to snap at a second’s notice! The best natural shots will be when they’re not perfectly posed or smiling sweetly. So don’t be afraid to take a bunch of shots — you can just delete the ones you don’t like later.
Edit like a pro. Much of the magic of photography comes in the editing stages. If you don’t have a pro tool like Photoshop, there are free apps that offer pretty fantastic editing you can try. Picmonkey and Canva are two of the best. Test out different brightness, contrasts, sharpness, and saturations to see how they change the photos.
Capturing moments makes for a happy family. For more fun family tips, give us a call at 717-747-3099 or click the button below.