“It is Wednesday my dudes!” and you know what that means… BHWH BLOG POST! Today though, is not a crafting post. Today is about how I made a Christmas photo shoot background for under $60 and what editing tools I used to make my photos beautiful with only an iPhone. So, if you are interested in easily making a setup to take some simple, but fun christmas photos of your own, here is how to make it happen for an inexpensive price.
Photography is by no means a source of income for me. I got my first camera in March of 2018. I actually bought it from a high school friend named Berkley Martin. (Check out her website berkleymartinphotos.com by the way. She is an astounding photographer!) I personally use photography as a creative outlet. It has helped me make friends and has brought me on many adventures in seek of the perfect nature shot! My sister, who I’ve mentioned in my posts before, is obsessed with taking pictures of her little boy Isaac (who I nanny). So, my Canon Rebel has come in handy this year!
With the holiday season approaching I was asked to take christmas photos. Being broke like I am, I needed a background that didn’t cost me a fortune. Here is how I managed to pull together this adorable photo shoot with only $60.
First things first, your location is KEY. No matter how cute your props are, if the background consists of dumpsters and some cars in a parking lot, you’ll never be satisfied with your outcome. Try to find a park with trees, a large pond/lake, or an open field to set up in.
Next, pick decent lighting. You don’t want spotted lighting coming from between tree branches or blaring sun causing your photo to turn orange and shade half of the models face. Choose an overcast day and shoot either in the early morning or late afternoon. These times of day always happen to produce the best photos for me. I always avoid mid day because models seem to squint more and the sun causes more shadows.
Now for the set up. My props consisted of:
- 2 blankets
- 2 pillows
- stuffed Rudolph
- wooden chest
- hand painted wooden sign
- hand drawn chalkboard sign
- tiny christmas tree
- joy sign
- santa hat
Of these 13 items I only purchased 6 things. I spent money on 1 pillow, Rudolph, chalkboard, flowers, tree, and joy sign! Every item I purchased was found in either Hobby Lobby or Walmart.
My sister owns this beautiful wooden chest you see here. So, I didn’t have to pay for that, but this could be replaced with a red wagon or possibly a large cardboard box wrapped like a present. The red blanket you see here, my sister already owned as well. It had a Mickey with Isaac’s name that I just covered with the small tree. My pillows consisted of a Santa and some elf feet. I purchased the elf feet at hobby lobby because they were TOO cute and I couldn’t pass it up! I purchased the flowers at hobby lobby as well. They were on sale for 40% off which was amazing.
I purchased the chalkboard and white chalkboard marker at Walmart for super cheap. I got the idea for the captions on both sides of the board off Pinterest. Pinterest is the place to be for creative ideas. Especially when it comes to decorations, crafting, or photography. The joy sign and stuffed Rudolph were both purchased at Hobby Lobby. I used ornaments I already owned and made the wooden sign from stapled together pallet boards and some acrylic paint from walmart! Now let’s talk editing.
I do all of my editing using free apps on my iPhone. Luckily my camera has a bluetooth option that can automatically transfer my photos to my phone through the camera connect app. The first app I use is PS Express. On this app I usually start by cropping my photo how I would like. I follow that by adjusting the exposure to a light that looks as natural as possible and brightens the models eyes without making them look like a ghost or whiting out the background. I then select highlights and turn those down slightly followed by turning the shadows up some. In my opinion, it evens out the photo and reduces uneven coloring. I then slide over to vibrance and turn that up a bit to add some dimension to the color in the photo. After that I turn up the clarity just a touch and it seems to define the image better. Then I slide over to the “details” section and sharpen, reduce luminance, and reduce color noise quite a bit. Once this has been done the models features are defined but the skin is softened and smoothed out.
The coolest feature of PS Express is that you can slide the bottom bar over to the little pencil and an option pops up to use liquify and healing. These options allow you to adjust facial features, remove breakouts, and get rid of any unwanted objects in the background of a picture.
The next free app I use regularly would be InstaEditor. I use this for quick edits before I post something of myself on Instagram. When editing photos like this one of Isaac, I only use two features of instaeditor: whiten and blur. I use the whiten to lighten up teeth and also lighten up the white in someones eyes. I use blur to lightly tap over indented, scarred, or discolored skin to smooth it out and give it a soft appearance.
The last free app I use is called PhotoNova2. This app has a selective fx button that comes in handy. I use the circle option to select a models eyes in a close up. I turn the brightness to 10 and the contrast to 20 and it lightens and sharpens the eyes just the slightest bit to make them stand out without adding fake color.
So, theres you have it. Cheap set up, and easy editing with your iPhone. Now, I am by no means considered very good at photography and I am completely self taught. So, take my advice lightly. Though, if it works for you, I am so glad I can share what small amount of knowledge I do have. Here’s to Happy Holidays and beautiful Christmas photos taken by hand and with heart! See you guys on Friday!