Every year, when Valentine’s Day rolls around, we have a choice. We can opt for the old school and pick up a pack of grocery store Valentines for the kids to share at school and one of a few cliché gift options for our significant other. Or, we can get crafty and put our photography skills to use to make something unique for the whole family, a gift worthy of a dozen heart emojis. Luckily, choosing the latter doesn’t necessitate buying expensive craft supplies or creating complicated photo backdrops. In fact, it can be as affordable as it is quick and easy. Check out these Valentine’s Day photoshoot ideas and tips for couples and families, and turn a social obligation into a lovely celebration.

This article was originally written in 2014 and updated in 2022 by the editorial staff.

Valentine’s Day Photoshoot Ideas for Couples

Working through any one of the following projects will score more points than that box of chocolates you were thinking of picking up. Still, go ahead and grab the chocolates for extra points. Nothing wrong with that.

1. Recreate Your First Date

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Photo by Cottonbro

Maybe you just started dating, or maybe you get asked at every family function why you’re not married yet. Perhaps you are married and you’re looking to rekindle the flame. Whatever the case, the odds are that your first date holds a special place in the hearts of you and your significant other. Why not capitalize on that and recreate your first date? It’s a solid go-to for engagement photography sessions and will work well to get your Valentine’s Day going in the right direction. You can either capture it with mobile selfies or instant cameras, or drop a little cash to take along a single photographer (likely the only one who can take the gig).

2. Take a Candid Selfie Doing What You Love to Do

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Photo by Lin & Jirsa Photography

Taking a selfie without looking like you’re taking a selfie is easier than ever today, and doing so will allow you to capture candid portraits that look like they were taken by a pro (because they were, by you)! You’ll need to plan this one in advance, and it can go a couple different ways. You can go into the shoot secretly, planning your activity of choice in advance and setting up your camera gear in advance, which is really only do-able in private spaces, or you can plan the shoot with your “other” and make it happen on the spot. To snap the selfie, you’re going to need a tripod and a camera with either a timer function or a remote shutter that you can trigger once you’re in position. Whatever you choose to do, have fun! The great times will reveal themselves in your expressions. This portrait will look great as wall art or a social post that sure to get plenty of hearts.

3. Put the Boudoir into Your Valentine’s Day Photoshoot

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Photo by SLR Lounge

Let down your guard and take your Valentine’s Day photoshoot into the bedroom (or bathtub, as illustrated above) with a romantic boudoir session. If both of you can get on board with this, you can make it a couples portrait session with tasteful yet risqué poses, or let the winner of a heated paper, rock, scissors match choose who poses for the occasion. You can also take Valentine’s boudoir photos of yourself (like a boudoir selfie session) and surprise your significant other with the photos, perhaps in a small album that you can tuck away in a dresser drawer. While boudoir sessions usually involve capturing intimate photos, you can also add a twist and make them fun (or funny), depending on your mood or sense of humor.

4. Capture Product Photography Shots to Immortalize Your Valentine’s Day Gifts

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Photo by Hong Son

If you do go the traditional gift-giving route, you can still throw in a Valentine’s Day photography. Break out your macro lens or take some time to compose a few product photography shots. We recommend doing this for sure if you’ve purchased or received jewelry (such as a new ring) or any other items of monetary or sentimental value.

5. Print Your Photos as Gifts

Sometimes, you can use photographs you’ve already capture as a Valentine’s Day photography gift. Printers like Bay Photo offer a ton of photo gift options that you can use to create unique gifts with photos you already cherish.

[Related Reading: 18 Romantic Portraits That Celebrate Lifelong Love]

Valentine’s Day Photoshoot Ideas for the Family & Kids

1. Bring in Valentine’s Day Props for Heart-Happy Vibes

With a quick trip to Michael’s or any local craft store, you can pick up some affordable signs, balloons, and other props to use in your kid-friendly Valentine’s Day photoshoot. Some are great for wearing while others can be used to quickly makeover the background.

Balloons (Works Well for Couples Portraits, Too)

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Photo by Anna Tarazevich

Of all the prop options for Valentine’s Day photoshoots, balloons rank near the top. Use your knowledge of color theory and fill the scene with a monochromatic array of balloons, which you can then contrast with complementary colors using your subject’s clothes.

Flowers

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Photo by Shannon Sewell

Like balloons, flowers also make great props for Valentine’s Day photography. Let your kids choose their favorites and build a color scheme around them, or set it up yourself. A popular option for Valentine’s, of course, involves picking out a plethora of lovely red roses. They can get pricey, so look for creative ways to use them in your scene without having to purchase a hundred flowers. One option could be to take the petals off of a flower (or two) and arrange them in a heart shape around your adorable little subject(s). Otherwise, you could capture close-up shots of your subjects holding just a few flowers.

Backdrops

Backdrops can add a lot to make a Valentine’s Day portrait successful. You can opt for a solid backdrop, such as the white one we recommend for cards below, or even purchase a photo-realistic option from backdrop makers like Kate’s. It requires an initial investment up front, but you can also put it to use in Valentine’s Day mini-sessions and make your money back in no time.

2. Create Your Own Valentine’s Day Cards

We all loved those Valentine’s Day cards growing up (right?), so we don’t have to ditch them completely. Instead, we can make our own! It’s a great way to sneak in some quality portraits of the kids as well.

The Set Up

Set up a little seamless white backdrop in your living room. You don’t need an expensive backdrop stand for this (although they are nice to have!) For the shoot below, we used a little masking tape to secure a small roll of paper to the mantle of the fireplace and, voilà! Instant backdrop.

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We had a large window on camera left and used a small LED Video Light inside a Westcott 43 inch Apollo Orb light modifier as a fill light. A reflector or off-camera flash would also work. These were shot using a Canon 85mm f/1.8 lens on a Canon 5D Mark III. We spent no more than 10 minutes with each kid and we had a fun time goofing around with all the little props and toys.

Post-Processing for Valentine’s Day Photoshoot Cards

After our mini photo shoot, we imported the photos into Adobe Lightroom and applied the Standard Color preset from the SLR Lounge Lightroom Presets System, similar in style to the Modern Pack from Visual Flow. Then, we opened our favorite shots in Photoshop and added text. We had to extend the background on a few, which is easy to do with the plain white background. You can set these up as 4×6 prints and let the kids stuff these DYI Valentine’s Day photoshoot cards into colored A6 Envelopes after signing the back. Maybe include a bit of candy for old times sake. Maybe not…

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Photo by Tanya Smith

Valentine, You’re a Doll!

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Photo by Tanya Smith

You Rock My World, Valentine

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Photo by Tanya Smith

I Only Have Eyes for You, Valentine!

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Photo by Tanya Smith

You’re a Dino-Mite Valentine!

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Photo by Tanya Smith

I Dig You, Valentine

Which of the above Valentine’s Day photoshoot ideas and tips is your favorite? Are you planning to combine any of the above ideas? What additional props and sayings would you use for making your own Valentine’s Day cards? Do your kids even exchange Valentine’s at school anymore????

Featured image by Criativithy.