Thursday, January 24, 2013


Studio Quality Portraits At Home - How to Get the Memories Without the Price Tag

Going to an in-store portrait studio can be extremely costly. Packages run anywhere from $99 for a single shot printed in different sizes to more than $200 for a family portrait package. The truth is if you have a computer, a decent printer, digital camera and photo editing software, you can easily take creative shots of your loved ones, fix defects like redeye and shadows and print the shots in as many different sizes as you desire. You also have the option of switching backgrounds, adding props and using the pictures to produce greeting cards, calendars, brochures and more.


A shadow-concealing background is one distinguishing characteristic of studio-quality portraits. You want a plain background that will not detract from your subject, such as stonewashed, plain weave cotton backdrops. A sharp white or warm beige backdrop can add a lot of elegance to your at-home portraits, but note that these are slightly more difficult to work with since you need just the right lighting to reduce shadows.

Backdrop DIY

If buying a backdrop is not in your budget, make one. The Idea Room explains that a sheet, duvet or quilt offer all the width you need for a photo of one child. For a portrait of two or more kids, purchase two of the same window curtains or bed sheets and stitch together. For a portrait from the waist up, draping a sheet over the back of two tall chairs will do the trick, especially for your little ones. For a full-body shot, you can tack a lightweight sheet onto a wall using heavy-duty tape (be sure to use one that promises not to damage walls). IHeartFaces also suggests hanging the backdrop from the top of a bookshelf and draping a good portion on the floor.

Camera Settings

A smartphone can take some sharp photos, but for studio-quality portraits, it’s best to use a digital, point and shoot camera. When photographing just one person, select your camera’s portrait mode

This setting adjusts the camera’s aperture and depth of field to draw focus on your little one while keeping the background slightly out of focus. Keep in mind that if you’re new to photography, selecting your camera’s manual mode may not be a good idea since you will have full control over all settings, including speed, aperture, flash and other functions.

When to Use a Flash

Another characteristic of quality studio portraits is that the subject is well lit and there’s hardly a trace of shadow. With a digital camera, built-in sensors let the gadget know if there is enough light in the room and will automatically flash if the room is too dark.

Take a few test shots to see if your photo has enough light. Too much light will overexpose your subject and can produce a dark, harsh shadow in the background. Too little light will produce a dark photo. Of course, it’s possible to reduce these flaws in your photo editing program, but disabling your camera’s auto-flash function and utilizing its manual settings to set the correct exposure will give you more control over lighting.

Take more than one photo

No matter how photogenic your kids are, you’re likely to capture a few blinks and unfortunate changes of expression. Since the cost of taking one digital photograph is the same as taking 40, unlike film, you might as well switch your camera to “continuous shooting” mode and take far more photos than you need. Immediately delete those that have obvious flaws then carefully scrutinize your remaining shots – preferably using your photo editing software to zoom in on each shot – and select as many studio quality portraits as you want to print.

Benefits of photo editing software

The great thing about photo editing software is that if you end up with a nearly perfect photo of your little football player and ballerina, but they happen to have a bad case of red eye, you can easily eliminate this flaw and many others with a few simple tools.

Alyssa is an avid blogger and family photographer currently residing in Washington. When not chasing after kids with her camera, you can usually find Alyssa rummaging through thrift shops or enjoying Seattle's drink of choice (coffee, of course!)

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