Easy DIY Mobile Photography Birthday Photoshoot + FREE DNG Lightroom Preset

pinterest worthy birthday photoshoot photos header image

Happy Birthday to Me!! I can’t believe I turned 30. Like that is INSANE. I’m entering a new decade of my life! This time last year I put out a post, 29 Life Lessons I Learned by 29, and now I’m turning 30! There’s so much I learned during the past year, it’s not even funny! I had a VERY hard year. You would think year to year things don’t change, BUT THEY DO. Anyways~ One of my goals for 2022 is to have 12 themed self-made photoshoots. I want to get better at taking photos of myself, but not just like selfie-esque photos. I really want to take time to plan things out, set up, edit, etc. Really dig down on my poses, watch my posture, etc. What better way to kick things off than with a birthday photoshoot?

I used to do this a lot when I was younger, taking photoshoots of myself in fun places and fun outfits, but I got busier. Life happens, you know, and I knew if I wanted to do this I’d have to make this a priority.

So for today, I have my Hello 30 Birthday Photoshoot. In this post you will see:

  • Photos of the before and after
  • I’ll be pointing out what I wish I did differently. So basically critiquing my own photos. 
  • My phone camera setup
  • Where I got what
  • The space I’m working with (which really isn’t much!) 
  • And anything else that brought this all together. 

I’ll even throw in a freebie and include a free preset for Lightroom mobile for you to enjoy. 

So let’s get started, shall we?

WHAT YOU WILL NEED

A camera or a phone with a decent camera

I’m using a OnePlus 6t, and that came out in 2018 so it’s definitely not a new phone but it has a decent camera. There are too many people out there boasting about iPhone photography when there are loads of amazing android phones out there. It doesn’t have to be completely new but decent. 

A tripod

If you don’t have an extra pair of hands or want to do it yourself, get a tripod. In general, even if you have an extra pair of hands, time and time again I find myself dealing with people who don’t understand or know how to take photos. It’s easy with kids or teens because you can show them what to do, but you also can’t use them for that long. So I honestly would recommend getting a tripod. I prefer using the Manfrotto mini, not sponsored. It’s small, sturdy, it moves at different angles, and I can use it with a camera or a phone. With a phone, you’ll also need a phone mount, in which case I recommend any 180-degree phone mount off of amazon. This is the one I’m using. 

A wireless Bluetooth remote

You can get a Bluetooth remote for your phone, but if you’re using a camera you’re going to have to find one that works with your camera. Plenty of them are being made. You can usually find them off of Amazon, and they’re inexpensive and nifty to use! This is the one I’m using, it works with both iPhone and Android.

But if you don’t have a wireless remote, never fear because I will show you how to get around that later on.

A backdrop of your choice

This is more personal! Obviously, not everyone is going to choose a rose gold backdrop. I would love to do something with a black backdrop one day. Again, I got mine from Amazon, if you liked my background setup this is the one I used. BUT it excludes the hello 30 balloons. The balloon I got is from a seller that doesn’t exist anymore, so shop around on Amazon a week or two in advance to find yours. You don’t want to buy it a day before or two days before and find that there’s a hole in your balloon or it’s not the color you want, which has happened to me. So now I always buy my decorations two weeks in advance. 

Time

Since I did everything by myself, it took me a bit of time. Setting up the backdrop took me about 2-3 hours because you have to make the tassel banner yourself, hang stuff up, blow up any balloons you want, etc. It comes with so many decorations, I didn’t use them all. In the case of blowing up balloons, if you want to use them, I would suggest getting a balloon pump. A helium tank is expensive, so I just went for just a balloon pump because they’re inexpensive. A hand pump will cost you like $6 and an electric one is about $13-20 depending on if you get one for a single or dual. I went for a hand pump, it’s easy to use, effective, doesn’t make you tired. I didn’t blow up many balloons and found I barely liked them in my photos. So it’s really up to you!

Then it took me an hour to do my hair and makeup, and about 2-3 hours to take all the photos I wanted. It took me 1 full day to narrow down my favorite photos and edit them to perfection! You’ll see what I mean down below!

Inspo photo

You really need an idea ahead of time of what you want. Kind of like a vision or mood board. Get on Pinterest, create a board, and add photos to it of what exactly you want. If you find it’s all over the place, try to narrow it down to 2-3 of your favorites and go from there. This is my birthday photoshoot Pinterest board.

And the photos I narrowed it down to are:

An understanding of the rule of thirds

To really make your photos pop and look professional, it’s important to understand this rule of thirds. This is why I’m kind of against using a second pair of hands because even if you explain this to someone who only knows how to point and shoot, you won’t get your desired results. When you shoot for yourself, you can learn much more about the process and how to achieve your desired results. What you’re supposed to look for etc.

On that note, I’m not the greatest at explaining the rule of thirds, so watch this 5-minute video on it instead.

It is the golden rule. You can add a grid to your phone camera by opening up the settings and toggling Grid. If you’re given an option as to what grid, use 3x3.

Optional

These next bits are optional, but to get it to perfection or near perfection I used them to get the best results:
  • Lightroom mobile (FREE: Apple Link | Android Link)
  • Lightroom preset of choice (keep reading to find out how to get mine)
  • TouchRetouch app (one-time fee of $3.99 works on both android and iPhone)
  • Snapseed app (FREE: Apple Link | Android Link)
  • An app like Procreate with a tablet and stylus (this part is really extra for me but I really wanted perfection! You might not even need this to be ENTIRELY honest with you. Most of the time when I edit, I don’t use this, but you’ll see down below why I used it and how I used it.)

ONCE YOU HAVE EVERYTHING…

It’s just a matter of putting everything together. I know that sounds SO FUCKING SIMPLE, and it is and it isn’t. 

I set up my backdrop the day before the intended shoot because it was on my bed, and I was terribly terrified of knocking it down while I slept! Since I needed to work with natural daylight because I don’t have light boxes, it saved me tons of time to set everything up the day before.

Setting up, as mentioned above, took me about 3 hours give or take. Really depends on you honestly! I put on some music and jammed out while setting everything. Once I had that set, I was ready for the actual day.

Quick Tip!

If you don’t have a Bluetooth remote, that’s fine. What I’ve done in the past, and this works great, film yourself posing in 4k. Then replay the videos, and take screenshots of your favorites. 

Wallah! Pretty much the same thing, just without a Bluetooth remote. The only problem is, you may have to constantly delete or backup the 4k videos because they take up A LOT of room!

Why 4k? Because 4k has the best quality! I’ve noticed when editing anything from a 1080p video, it’s not that great compared to 4k. You can try both ways, but tried and true use 4k.

For example, the photos at the end of this video are actually from filming this process in 4k.

@dreamlikediana 1186 photos later... #birthday #bday #bdaygirl #birthdayphotoshoot #hello30 #happybirthdaytome #aquarius #february2nd #kawaii #kawaiigirl ♬ Birthday - Anne-Marie

And they came out GREAT!

BEFORE AND AFTER PHOTOS

I always have great ideas, but my execution of them is questionable at times. Let’s just put this out there, whatever your expectation of anything, it will never be like that. It doesn’t mean it’s not going to be good, it just won’t be like how you imagined it. And that’s a big factor in how my own photos turned out because my expectation was the photos I drew inspiration from, and my reality was my own. 

I still love my photos and definitely outdone myself, but there are things I learned that I will definitely do next time I plan a themed photoshoot. Which is soon.

photo critique #1 upper shelves

So firstly, the number one thing I didn’t think I needed to do was removed stuff from my upper shelves. Now as I mentioned, I didn’t use a lot of room. My bedroom is small. It’s about the size of a single college dorm room, if not just slightly bigger. I could have also done something to block the view of what was up on my shelves. Because to really edit this out, I needed to use Procreate. 

I really had to go in and remove the reflection off of the balloon and make the stuff on my shelves disappear. To do this, I had to choose a similar color to my shelves and get in there and get detailed. And BLEND BLEND BLEND. I did this for about 10 photos by hand, and it took a lot of time! Don’t let the time-lapse fool you!

wrap tinsel all the way around critique #2

The second thing I should have done was use the tinsel all the way around the bookshelf, and all the way around the other shelf instead of overlapping them like I did. I thought the small corner I cut out for myself was enough room but it wasn’t. I found myself using Snapseed’s Healing and Retouch’s Clone tool A LOT. By hand, constantly, over and over again. You may think, “Oh that’s easy,” but it only looks easy!. It takes so much time to get it perfectly down. It’s not the end of the world, but definitely use all the tinsel length you are given. 

critique #3 rule of thirds it's better to have more than less

Do not be me and overlap the two tinsel banners you get because you think you have enough room. 

It’s better to have more than less because you can crop down, but it’s so much harder to add on!

Cropping things down doesn’t look bad, it’s acceptable, but remember what I said about understanding the rule of thirds above? 

Every professional photographer pretty much follows this rule. If you want your photos to stand out and look like they were done by a professional or be on a similar level, the rule of thirds really means a lot! That’s why I put in so much time and effort editing them. I was following the rule of thirds, and making sure everything blended well together!

critique #5 a photo i liked but did not use because it just wouldnt sell

I didn’t get to use these photos from the 10 I narrowed down to on my Instagram feed, but I quite liked them. But the thing is, they are lacking! 

How are they lacking? You ask.

I have a lot that’s wrong with them. 

  • First of all, I wish I had removed the bear from the backdrop. 
  • I wish I wasn’t on the bed because you can tell, but again I didn’t have space to take everything down and set it up elsewhere.
  • In the second photo, I could have stood up straighter and adjusted my posture better.

These just didn’t make the cut among the many others I liked, but didn’t make the cut either. 

The ones that I chose in the end and made the cut followed what people look for in a photo. The first photo is something that can be shared. Easily an aesthetic photo, and I did find on insights a lot of people saved my photo. I also added a few more aesthetically pleasing shots.

I also added in some face forward shots and fun shots because it doesn’t make sense to not include me having fun. What’s the point then?

And lastly, I added just a photo of the backdrop itself.

So there we have it. How I chose. How I critiqued. How I fixed some photos, and what I learned from this entire ordeal!

NOW FOR THE PART EVERYONE HAS BEEN WAITING FOR!

Download the Lightroom preset I used on all my photos. 

This is NOT made to be resold or reshared! 

This is just for fun. As a note, it won’t work for every photo. As photos are made with different lighting and settings.

Usually, adjusting the lighting and exposure in the light tab, or the color settings in the color tab help in achieving the best results possible. This is kind of why I’m not really for buying or selling Lightroom presets and just learning how to work Lightroom by yourself because it really depends on what you’re doing. 

And if you want the easy route, well then you’re stuck with free presets and not understanding what goes on behind the scenes. 

Also as a note, the preset is made for the Lightroom Mobile app ONLY. It is NOT compatible with desktop Lightroom. 

Download Free Lightroom Mobile Preset

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    THAT'S ALL FOR NOW~

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    If you're feeling extra kind today, buy me a bubble tea.

    Till next time!

    ~Diana

    And I will see you next time, with whatever long-form post I come up with because I can’t seem to write anything short…

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