This super easy, and VERY budget friendly DIY has been on my list for a long time! Years ago, two of my favorite home bloggers Chris Loves Julia first came up with this fun and easy oversized portrait project, and I just knew that I needed to re-create it in our home someday! It’s such a sweet and creative way to bring photos of your kids into any space in the home!
This project is not only affordable, but you need very little skill, minimal time, and very few materials to bring it to life! All of which make it a great project for anyone and everyone.
What you’ll need…
Quantity will vary based on how many portraits you would like to showcase.
- 24×36″ Frames
- A Camera Phone ( is there any other kind these days? ha!) OR a Digital Camera
- A light plain background, and great natural lighting
- 24×36″ Engineer Prints
Right off the bat I wanted to find readily available, AND affordable frames for this project. I was super excited when I found these 24×36″ frame that comes in a variety of frame finishes, and that had overall great reviews. They arrived quickly, in perfect condition, and we’re nearly as expected. We went with the “Medium oak” color option ( as shown in the photos), and although they were a little darker than expected, they’re still great! I was initially on the fence between going with a wood tone finish, or black. I ended up going with the wood tone because I knew ultimately if I decided I prefered black, it would be an easy spray paint fix.
After sharing a preview of this project with you guys, I had questions if I took our portraits with an iPhone or with a professional camera. In this case I did use our Nikon, BUT you could easily use your smart phone. No problem! The trick to good photos in general is natural lighting! I took our portrait photos in our sunroom, because it has the best natural light in our home. SO whether you shoot with your smart phone, or a professional camera, this project is still 100% doable.
BACKGROUND + LIGHTING
Selecting a light solid background ( aka wall in your home) is key to achieving the POP of contrast your looking to achieve for your portraits. For our photos, we did end up having a light paneled wall as our background. I went back and forth with this, but in the end I’m glad I did because I love the subtle interest it adds.
In general, lighting means everything to achieving a professional looking photo. Whether you do go with your smart phone, or a digital camera, finding a nook in your home with great natural lighting will improve the overall result of your photos! Shooting the photos with ideal natural lighting, will also save you time on the tail end with editing before they head off to the printer.
TAKING + EDITING YOUR PHOTOS
One of the things that makes this project so chic, is how you “prep” your kids for the shots, as well as editing them to be black and white rather than color photos.
In Julia’s original post, she had a ton of helpful tips for executing this DIY. One that I found particularly helpful were her suggestions on how to capture each of your children’s individual personalities through the portraits. Julia suggested having a helper there with you while you’re snapping the pics to talk to each child when it’s their turn. Doing so allows the child to relax, and not focus on the camera, making the shots more candid and expressive. This did the trick for us! Having a helper carry on normal conversations with our older two boys particularly worked great, all of their little reactions and expressions came to life and I just snapped away! Afterwards I went through and was able to choose the shot that captured each of their personalities the best.
After you get all of the shots you want, it’s time to edit. This can be as simple as just editing your picture from color to black and white. For us, even though the lighting was perfect, after converting the photos to black and white, I went back through and increased the exposure, increased the highlights to ensure the contrast popped without looking too intense, decreased the shadows a bit, and then adjusted the temperature to make sure none of the whites we’re yellow. Again you can make this as easy or complicated as you want. Julia also shares more in depth suggestions for editing your black and white photos here.
THIS is where is gets good. The key to this project is the affordability of the print. Typically, oversized prints like these would be upwards of $20 or more per print! If you’re wanting a higher quality paper or canvas, you absolutely can explore the options available, but for this specific post we’re going to talk a little bit more about Engineer Prints. Engineer Prints, are just that, they exist for large scale blue prints, both in color and black and white, and for cheap! We print our engineer prints through Staples, and they charge $3.59 PER PRINT for a 24×36″! $3.59!! It’s basically an inexpensive paper print, not intended for photos, but if you’re looking for an affordable DIY like this, it’s the perfect option!
TIP: You’re local printer may give you a “hard” time about wanting to print a photo on this particular print option. BUT reassure them that this is in fact the selection you intended, in BLACK AND WHITE. I received two separate phone calls after placing my order online, both team members insisted that the quality would be poor and that there were better materials available.
For this project, again you will want to select the 24×36″ print size, in the Black and White option.
I ordered our prints online, and they were ready by the end of the day! Easy Peezy! I hope you guys enjoyed this fun and easy little DIY! And again, please excuse the project pics, when we get into our new home I will post an update with a few more tips!