Say cheese! Whether we’re taking selfies or food snaps, photography is one of our favorite hobbies, especially when kids are involved. If you’ve been secretly itching to ditch the department store and take a stab at creating your own studio, we’ve got you covered. Read on for tricks and tips on how to create a portrait studio that’s perfect for capturing memories.

1. Natural light: Photography is all about lighting, so set up your studio near a window (if possible) to take advantage of natural light. (via Cowhide Rugs)

2. Use Tissue Paper as a Diffuser: The light from a flash can often be harsh, so try wrapping a sheet of tissue paper over the flash to diffuse light. Bonus points if you experiment with different colors. (via Brit + Co)

3. Think About Seating: Fun chairs will provide interest to your photo, flexibility in your shots and a welcome place for your subject to sit when they get antsy. (via Aurélie Aimé)

4. Raid Your Bookshelf: No tripod? No problem! Raid your bookshelf to create a makeshift — and ridiculously adjustable — tripod from stacks of books. (via Brit + Co)

5. DIY Bean Bag Backdrop: These backdrops are a great way to take photos of sleeping infants and are cheap and easy to make. All you need is a bean bag, PVC frame and blanket. (via Dana Made It)

6. DIY Reflectors: Reflectors are great way to soften light, and reflectors on wheels are easy to move around your studio space. (via The Lighting Academy)

7. Double Duty Curtains: Professional backdrops can be expensive and unwieldy, so think about using curtains instead. They come in different sizes, can be hung up or thrown over a door and can spruce up the living room once you’re done. (via Classy Clutter)

8. Laminate Flooring: Don’t worry if you don’t have hardwood floors to shoot on. It’s super easy to create the same effect. A pack of laminate flooring is about $20, and one pack is enough to create a nice floor setting for your photos. (via Decoist)

9. Go Thrifting: Not that we ever need an excuse to go shopping, but garage sales and thrift stores are great places to look for cheap props. (via Anthropologie)

10. Home Furniture: Furniture you have around the house can make great props. Tuck a baby into a basket or use a footstool for a Superman pose. Use your imagination! (via Brit + Co)

11. Photography Lamp: Using IKEA lamps, aluminum foil and some white fabric, you can create a photo-studio-worthy lighting fixture. (via Melissa Esplin)

12. Blankets as Backdrops: Want to use curtains as backdrop, but don’t have time to iron them first? Textured blankets are great in a pinch and won’t show wrinkles. (via It’s Always Autumn)

13. Freestanding Baseboards: If you’re looking for versatility in your photos, invest in clamps and baseboard pieces, which can be pushed up against a backdrop for a fresh look. (via River Road Rustics)

14. Make Memories: Use favorite toys as props. Not only will Mr. Bear help calm a nervous baby, but his presence will also create a special memory. (via Dreambox Photography)

What tips do you have? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook!