DIY – iPhone Photo Shoot

How to Take Card-worthy Photos on your iPhone

Last Christmas, I desperately wanted to get some professional photos taken of our new family of three for our Christmas card. We skipped sending cards in 2016 because we had just sent out birth announcements, but in 2017, Cillian was an official toddler and we were feeling more like humans and less like zombies. I felt that year deserved a stellar Christmas card.

When my husband suggested I just take them myself, I thought he was crazy! I searched the internet for how to use only an iPhone to take decent photos and found, he was actually crazy. No one had tips or tricks on how to do an at-home photo shoot without a fancy camera, a tripod, a shutter remote, or studio style set up.

BUT! True to my inner DIY goddess, I came up with a plan! Here is everything you need to take decent (good enough for the Christmas card but I would not suggest ordering oversized prints as they are still just from an iPhone) photos with just your camera phone and whatever you have in your house.

The Lighting

At home photos with just your phone ~ Beka XO Co
unedited shot of my window

The first tip every photographer shares is lighting – natural lighting, preferably. Find a spot in your house where the windows can be at your back as you take photos so the light shines on your subject and noticed what time the sun shines in those windows the most. For me, that magical place is my bedroom in the late morning. This shoot had to be done mid afternoon so the lighting was not ideal, but still just good enough.

The Backdrop

At home photos with just your phone ~ Beka XO Co
Unedited – My clean and simple back drop

Decide what you would like the background of your photos to look like. I prefer to use blank walls and neutral colors for a less-distracting background, but you can make anything work – your fireplace, an exterior wall, even your couch! Because I shoot in my bedroom, I put a white sheet on my bed and take advantage of the blank wall opposite the windows. I even love for our friend-made walnut headboard to make an appearance! If you are looking for a blank canvas, you can drape a sheet over a door, tack a blanket to the wall, or even just clear out an area to have open wall and floor space. No one needs to know the clutter that surrounded your photo. Get creative and decide what makes sense for your photos.

The Subject

At home photos with just your phone ~ Beka XO Co
Unedited – smiley toddler with place to go and things to do

The easiest time to photograph a child is definitely before they can walk and throw things off the bed or (I would imagine) once they are old enough to understand, “Sit still and smile!” We are in that sweet spot where C has places to go and people to see but zero cares to give about what I would like for him to do. I just make the most of it and take a lot of blurry photos. The beauty of digital is you do not waste film! Snap away.

The Props

At home photos with just your phone ~ Beka XO Co
Unedited – Easter style props that I had on hand

AKA, the distractions. If your photos are for a holiday or an event, find some simple home decor that is not fragile and matches the theme. Use a specific outfit to set a mood. Or, if you want simple pictures of your little, strip them down to just their adorable cloth diaper! Maybe don’t photograph them in just a paper diapers. That is so not cute #CruchyMomLife

The Photographer

At home photos with just your phone ~ Beka XO Co
Unedited – Just a mom on a mission

Any mom with a camera phone should be able to snap a picture of her kid that is worth sharing or putting on the Christmas card! I have zero photography experience but YEARS of watching America’s Next Top Model. I am sure that counts for something.

The Edits

If you read My 6 Favorite Mom Apps, you will remember my favorite editing app, Snapseed! I always follow Happy Grey Lucky’s tutorial  on how to edit photos for that bright, clean look that takes camera phone photos to the next level! I swear, the difference in a bad photo and a that’ll-do photo is 80% editing!

The Results

Happy Easter to all our readers!

The Outtakes

Bonus Tip:

Remember how I said I LOVE Shutterfly for all their coupons? Well, every Christmas season they send a code for 10 free cards. I happen to have two accounts with them and actually get 20 free Christmas cards! After taking the photos myself and taking advantage of Shutterfly’s offer, I send my beautiful cards for the price of shipping and postage. Can’t beat that for a DIY!


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