by Christina Dennis
I love taking photos of my two girls! They're just so darn cute and I want to capture every stage of their little lives with images that I can treasure forever. While I like to take photos with natural backgrounds (like the beautiful outdoors), I also like to experiment with creating interesting backdrops with easy and inexpensive materials that I have in my crafty arsenal. My favourite materials to use as backdrops are simple fabrics and white banner paper - both of which also work really well ask backdrops for product photography if you're a DIY mommy that sells her creations!
For a simple white backdrop for photos, I use banner paper. It comes in very long rolls and you can buy it at most stationery or office supply stores. My favourite setting to take photos in is outside at the middle of the day when it's cloudy (it's daylight, but the sun can't cause shadows). I roll out a long piece of banner paper, and tape it up to the side of my house with packing tape as high as I need it to be. Then, I let it roll gently onto the ground at least 5 feet and secure the bottom with whatever heavy things I can find. In this case, stumps! I then set my subject (here, it's a bag for my Golly Gee! Baby line) on the paper, about 6" from the side of the house and I shoot away. I always take many, many pictures so that I have lots to choose from when I'm editing them.
If I'm looking for a photo backdrop with a little more pizazz, I use some brightly coloured fabric! Here, I've used a bolt of quilter's cotton in a lovely aqua shade with small polka dots. The dots are cute, but they're not busy enough to distract from my subjects which are my dear girls for this picture!
And, as the photo above shows you all, here's my secret to crafting with two children in the house: RARELY CLEAN YOUR HOME. *wink*
Here, I've placed the end of the fabric on top of my (messy) kitchen island (iron out the fabric first if it's wrinkly or has a crease down the middle) and secured it with heavy objects. Let the fabric drape down to the floor, and continue it a few feet on the floor in front of your island, counter, table, desk or whatever high object works! Place your subjects a few inches from the back of the fabric and snap away!
In both cases, I open up my favourite shots in Photoshop and edit them a little. First, I'll crop the image so that I take out any secret things I don't want in it (like tree stumps or messy kitchens). If there's only one other edit I do, it's open up the "curves" window and lighten the image (as shown above). Sometimes I'll adjust the colour balance and other things, but my Photoshopping skills are minimal so I usually keep it pretty simple.
Here's the finished product using a fabric backdrop and my darling girls (I took at least 50 shots, cropped the photo and lightened it):
And here is one using banner paper outside with one of my products (I cropped the photo, lightened the background, and then ended up erasing the background completely using the eraser tool):
While they're no substitute for professional photos, DIY photos of children and DIY products are so much fun to experiment with! Try playing with paper and fabric next time you take some photos and see what you can come up with that's interesting and unique.
Christina Dennis is the creator and designer behind Golly Gee Baby, a collection of unique and colourful baby clothing and accessories that are ethically manufactured.