As a momma there is nothing I love more than pictures of my little babe. It seems like every season or holiday I’m thinking to myself, “Oh! I should get new photos done to hang on the wall!” It’s hard not to want to capture every moment and milestone. Children are just so sweet and innocent, their little expressions have so much to say. All of these photo sessions seem like a good idea until I start adding up how much I’ve spent! Mini-sessions aren’t cheap and rightfully so. Photographers put in a lot of time shooting and editing to provide families with beautiful keepsakes. I am also guilty of getting pictures taken and never getting around to actually having them printed and hung up (New years resolution, sigh). Since I have a fairly nice camera I set out today to make my own mini session, and let me tell you it was SO much fun. In the end the photos may not compare to my go-to photographer’s, but I think they came out darn good for a few hours and ZERO money.
To start this process off I literally walked around my house and picked up ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that I thought might look decent in a Valentine’s Day photo shoot. I grabbed Evelina’s white furry rug, a wooden box, a little chalk board, some old birthday decorations, newspaper, a heart cookie cutter, wrapping paper, a crib sheet, a little while chair, a cake stand, my living room ottoman, and some fishing line/string. I promise if you are sitting there thinking, “I don’t have anything around here that I can use for a photoshoot!”, you absolutely do. Just use your imagination! Plus, you can always look to Pinterest for some inspiration.
After gathering my supplies I sat at the kitchen table and cut out some hearts. I used the cookie cutter as a pattern and drew about 36 hearts on the various material that I found. I used the newspaper, two different gold wrapping papers, and some old pink birthday banners. Once again, use whatever you have!
Then, I used my little chalk board to write “Kisses 25 cents”on.
After having a game plan for my decorations I set out to find two locations in my house that would serve the purpose. I really liked the thought of the stone fireplace background, but I wanted to cover up the actual fireplace hole. For this I used the furry rug. In order to get it to stay there I used duct tape. Then, I strung up some of the heart cut outs. I used the little white chair, the wooden box, and the kisses sign. As an alternative setting I covered my ottoman with a pink crib sheet and put it up against the fire place. This is what the final set looked like.
The second spot I used was in my dining room. I thought the orange background and wood flooring looked decent. It was also one of the only spots that didn’t have heavy furniture or baseboard heat that would ruin the picture. Here I just stuck a bunch of the hearts to the wall and used the wooden crate. At the last minute I used the cake stand and a cupcake. Nothing says Valentines Day like something sweet right!? Plus, I figured it would be a good distraction for some cute photos.
Once I had both of my sets complete I took a few test pictures and adjusted the decor as needed. To take the pictures I used my Canon Rebel T5 set on the AV mode. I have to admit that I have had this camera for a while now, but I haven’t had the time to really learn how to use it properly. I did some quick research and got some great tips on indoor portrait settings. I made sure to set my aperture below 6 since I wanted my subject to stand out. I found that setting the lighting to “tungsten” and the focus to “auto focus” worked best (these options are within the AV mode screen set up). I also shot in “multiple” so that I could take a bunch of pictures quickly.
A couple other things I found helpful for the actual shoot. Mini-marshmallows and music! Evelina wasn’t very cooperative at first. As soon as I would sit her down she would just walk away and play with something else. She was in a great mood but just wasn’t interested. Then, I turned on some dance music and enticed her with the little marshmallows. She quickly became interested and played along. I shot for about 30 minutes until I was sure I got a few good photos.
To edit the photos I downloaded GIMP on my computer. It’s one of the free photo editing software programs that apparently has decent reviews. It took a little bit of trial and error, but overall the program was user friendly. There are a TON of youtube videos to help you navigate through different questions you may have. For example, on a few of the photos Lina had marshmallow stuck on her face. Although it WAS cute it wasn’t really what I was going for. GIMP allowed me to correct that. I could also rotate photos that weren’t straight, sharped photos that were blurred, and adjusted lighting and coloring. I probably could have taken more time to work on the editing, but I am impatient and Evelina wanted to read books.
So in the end here are some of the photos I ended up with! Once again, not PERFECT but they do the job. My main goal was to capture some of my favorite silly expressions that she has, and I think I did just that. 18 months is such a fun age. I know we say it all the time as parents, but I really wish she would stop growing up. Sitting here writing this post and looking at these pictures makes me appreciate all the time I get to spend with her. Some days she tests my patience, I forget to feed myself, and end up staying in my pajamas all day due to lack of time, but I literally would not trade it for the world. Being her momma is my all time FAVORITE thing in the entire world.
So next time you are inspired by all of those adorable mini session set ups keep this post in mind! You can without a doubt do it yourself. Use what you have, whip out your camera or phone, and go to town. There is no place like home to capture the essence of your little one.