how to set up a DIY photo studio in your home {part 1}


learn how to set up a DIY photo studio at home and get great pictures of your kids

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: taking photos of your kids at home is better in just about every way than relying on school portraits or  the “photo studio” attached to a large retailer, where the photographer often spends more time trying to upsell your portrait package than she did taking pictures in the first place. You can get professional-looking photos at home with a simple DIY home photo studio. I’ve talked before about how to get great photos at home, but in this post (and tomorrow’s post) I’m going to walk you through 10 different setups for a DIY home photo studio. Each setup uses a different backdrop or background, giving you lots of variety, but all of them are quick and easy to set up and use items you can store in a closet or your basement. (Part 2 is now available here!)

There are lots of example photos coming up – so many that I had to split this post into two parts, so be sure to click here for the rest of the post.  I do want to note that all props in this post are from IKEA. I approached IKEA about using their products in this post because their stuff is good quality at a great price, and they have just about anything you’d ever need. However, don’t feel like you need to buy everything you see here in order to setup your own home photo studio – you may already have items in your home that will work. {IKEA provided the items shown in this post to me free of charge.}

One more thing before we get to the photos: you WILL NOT get good photos unless you pay attention to the light. Please read this post for an explanation of what you’re looking for when it comes to using natural light inside your house. Alright, here we go!

DIY photo studio setup #1: Use a curtain as a backdrop

Curtain panels are very convenient for use as a backdrop – they’re nice and tall, generally at least 4 ft wide, store easily, and are available in just about any color you could want. You can use curtain panels with a DIY PVC backdrop stand or an adjustable backdrop stand from amazon (affiliate link). Or, you can make life really simple and just tape or pin the panel to a wall, clamp it to a bookshelf, string it up in a doorway, or throw it over the top of a door, which is what I did for this photo:

how to set up a DIY photography studio in your own home for amazing photos  

The curtain I used was found in the as-is section at IKEA for a few dollars, half of a Mariam curtain pair, and made a great background in a pretty color (imagine how great this would look if your child has bright green eyes!). Plus the entire setup + picture taking took less than 15 minutes.

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DIY photo studio setup #2: Blanket or throw

Blankets are usually not quite as tall as curtain panels, but their main advantage is that they don’t show wrinkles. You might have to iron a curtain panel before use (or toss in the dryer), but blankets, especially those with some texture, can generally be taken straight from the couch or basement and used immediately. To use as a photo backdrop, just tape the blanket to the side of a crib, the back of a chair or couch, or directly to a wall and position your child in front of it for photos like these:

how to set up a DIY photography studio in your own home for amazing photos

how to set up a DIY photography studio in your own home for amazing photos

Here I used the gorgeous Gurli turquoise throw that’s only $13 and draped it over the back of a chair that I turned around so it would be facing a large window.

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DIY photo studio setup #3: Textured blanket in newborn baby setup

I love newborn photos that are very simple, allowing the baby, rather than the pose or the props, to be the focus of the picture:

how to set up a DIY photography studio in your own home for amazing photos

The basic setup for newborn photos is really simple: grab cushions off your couch, chairs from your kitchen, and a boppy or other pillow, then cover it all with a pretty textured throw that doesn’t show wrinkles:

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Instant newborn photo studio setup! I used the Grey Ofelia throw, $30. It’s quite large and could easily be used in setup #2 for an older child. For lots more tips, tricks, and info regarding newborn photo shoots, click here.

DIY photo studio setup #4: Blanket used with an adult for babies 

When babies are awake it can be extremely hard to get them to stay still and happy for a photo. How you do you get a great photo when your baby’s feeling a little fussy?

how to set up a DIY photography studio in your own home for amazing photos

Grab a helper and have her sit in a chair, then cover her with a large blanket. Set the baby in the crook of her elbow (make sure baby is not sinking into her elbow, but propped on top), then wrap part of the blanket around baby to make it appear she’s swaddled. The adult will be able to hold baby’s arms and legs tight and keep her calm without being visible in the photo.

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I used the White Ofelia blanket, $20. It’s very popular for use photographing babies – it’s large, soft, and stretchy so it’s easy to position however you’d like, and the dreamy texture means wrinkles are never an issue. You can even dye it any color you’d like.

DIY photo studio setup #5: Roller blind for a flat, seamless background

For a very professional look, a wide roller blind can be hung behind a child and then draped onto the ground he’ll stand on. It’s called a seamless background because there’s no “seam” or change in material between the wall and the floor.

how to set up a DIY photography studio in your own home for amazing photos

how to set up a DIY photo studio in your own home for amazing photos

I set mine up in my garage, tucking the end of the blind under items on a shelf:

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The Tuppler blackout roller blind (47 wide at $25) gives a great, flat background (I used the back of it). You’ll need to be quite careful not to wrinkle it while using, but since it rolls up it stores beautifully. It’s large enough to use for full-length shots for kids up to 5 years old, and can be used for closeups or half-body shots for older kids or adults. The flat look makes it very easy to edit, so even if you do end up with a wrinkle or two, don’t sweat it – you’ll be able to clone them out very easily.

Remember check out part 2 of this post for five more DIY home photo studio setups, including more setups that accommodate older children.

One last note before I go: I’m not trying to tell anyone you should never hire a photographer, or that all you need to be as good as the pros is a camera and a background. I just want everyone to know that with practice and some basic background options you can get great photos of your own kids at home. Thanks!

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linked at: Make it and Love it, I Heart Naptime, Whipperberry, Tidy Mom


Comments

  1. 1

    says

    Such great advice, and I love the “pro photos” vs. the actual set up. Who knew that gorgeous gray backdrop is set up in a garage, hehe! :) Pinning to my new “photography tips” board on Pinterest.

  2. 4

    Claudia Massie says

    Thank you for the wonderful tips. It didn’t appear that you had good natural light in any of your set ups. What kind of lighting did you use?

    • 5

      autumn says

      All the photos used only natural light – I tried to show in the pullback shots show where the window (or open door) was in relation to the subject. I shot in rooms with large windows (and my garage with the door open), so there was plenty of light. Someday I’d love to get a studio lighting setup, but we don’t really have room in our house right now, so I just make do with the windows!

  3. 7

    says

    Wow, this is just perfect for me! I love taking pictures of my kids (who doesn’t?) but I sell things on-line too and I’m always looking for ways to make my pictures better. Thanks for the ideas!

  4. 8

    says

    I love this post!! Such simple ideas. I really struggle to get great indoor photos as I don’t have any blank walls. This post solves that problem. I’ll be pinning it so I don’t forget :)
    If you get a chance I would love you to check out my newly started blog and follow if you wish :)
    http://sewitsherry.blogspot.com.au/

  5. 11

    Lynn says

    I wish I found this article when my son was a newborn. It would have been a big help since my husband didn’t take the pics that I wanted.

  6. 14

    says

    These are nice tips for people starting out. Maybe put a safety tip in when posing newborns? I came across this on pintrest and immediately worried about the newborn set-up toppling over. I don’t mean to sound critical of your post – I have just seen so many people in my town trying to do their own newborn photography and I don’t know if they think about safety. Thanks for sharing! :)

  7. 15

    says

    Thank you for this awesome article. I was looking for how to take craft photos, and stumbled on your post. I love how simple you make it, and now I feel like I can take great craft pictures and pictures of my family!! I always make it much more complicated in my mind, so thank you!! I am definitely sharing this!!

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