Take Great Portraits at Home

You're home alone and wondering how to document this odd year. And maybe your little ones are changing too quickly to get professional portraits at every milestone. Here are a few steps to get great photos at home, on your phone. That's right... your phone! All of the pictures in this post were taken in my living room, on my Google Pixel.

1. EQUIPMENT: Phone cameras are getting better and better. So unless you plan to do some serious editing, there's really no need to have a professional camera. Your lighting will have more impact on your photo than the equipment you use. Which leads me to my next step.

2. LOCATION: Assuming you're shooting inside, find a spot in your house with lots of natural light. A big window or sunroom during the middle of the day will work great to get the most light. If you're outside, stick to morning or evening to avoid harsh shadows. Open those blinds and turn off any artificial light, including the flash on your phone.

3. BACKDROP: White and light neutral backdrops photograph the BEST! They reflect a clean light that makes your photo pop. Darker colors can reflect onto your subject, so a purple wall will make skin look purple. Drape a white sheet over some furniture or bring a tan rug into the "studio" to achieve this neutral setup. In these photos, I draped our white comforter over the couch.

4. POSITION: Once you have the well-lit location, position your subject to face the light. They don't have to be looking directly into the light, but make sure the camera is on the window side.

5. TAKE THE SHOT: Move around to get a variety of angles. I love the shot directly above kiddos as they look up at you. Crouching down to eye level is another winning shot. And move really close to get those dreamy eyelash photos. Whatever you do, don't use your phone zoom; the photo will only get grainy. Take A WHOLE BUNCH of photos; you can always delete the bad ones later.

6. EDIT: You can use your phone editor, instagram in-app editor, or Lightroom App to make some final adjustments. I recommend downloading and playing around with the Lightroom Mobile App; it's free and fun to use. I like a true-to-life edit, which doesn't require much post processing. Just increase the exposure if it's a little dark and sharpen a bit. Here I also added a touch of contract and warm tones.


*Get in the shot! The front camera is higher quality than the selfie-facing camera on your phone. So I like to use 3-second self timer to push the trigger and turn it around for a "selfie" with the babe.

*Try using the volume down button on your phone as the shutter. You'll be more steady and have less blur in the photo.

*If you have multiple kids, start by photographing one at a time. I love solo closeup shots that focus in on one child. Quality shots get exponentially more difficult as you add more kids/animals to the photo.

Use the Lightroom App? Here's a free preset used in the photos above.


Steps on how to download and use it on your phone:

  1. Open the DNG file. It will open in Google Drive and you may get a "file unsupported" message. Don't worry!

  2. Download the image. It should appear as a basic image in your images/files library. This photo acts as a preset carrier.

  3. Open Lightroom Mobile and select the "Add Photos" button in the bottom right corner.

  4. Select the DNG file and add it to your Lightroom Mobile App.

  5. Open it in the Lightroom Mobile App and tap the three dots at the top. Then select "Create Preset."

  6. Give it a name and save!

That's it! Next time you have a photo in the Lightroom Mobile App, just scroll over to the presets icon in the bottom menu. You can continue to edit the photo after applying the preset.