From Smartphone to Cyanotype: How to Create Stunning Blue-Toned Art with Your iPhone Photos


Looking for a quirky, creative outlet that blends the convenience of digital with the charm of historic art forms?

Dive into the magical world of cyanotype photography this summer!

Cyanotype photo by Lori Battaglia

What Are Cyanotypes?

Cyanotypes are like a time machine for your photos, whisking them back to the 19th century.

This magical process uses sunlight and water to turn your images into rich, blue-toned works of art. Think of them as the original Instagram filters, but way cooler and without the hashtags. These pieces of art capture the essence of summer in deep, Prussian blue hues and are sure to make your friends and family gasp and wonder how you did it so EASILY.

Why Cyanotypes Are the Perfect Summertime Creative Outlet

Combining digital and analog techniques offers a ton of fun, making cyanotypes the perfect hobby for everyone from photography buffs to total newbies. Especially in summer. Here’s why you’ll love it:

  • Modern Meets Historic: Transform your digital photos into cyanotypes, merging the instant gratification of modern photography with the timeless beauty of an ancient art form.
  • Easy Peasy: Forget complicated chemicals, pricey machinery, or darkrooms. This process is straightforward and requires only simple materials.
  • Family Fun: It's engaging for all ages, from preschoolers to teenagers, making it a perfect family activity. 
  • Wellness Boost: Creative hobbies reduce stress, boost happiness, and provide a sense of accomplishment.
  • Outdoor time: Use natural materials like leaves and flowers, and develop your photos with just sunlight and water. It's a great reason to get everyone off of their screens while still enjoying plenty of "instant" gratitification.

The Scientific Benefits of Having a Hobby or Creative Outlet

Getting all hot and bothered this summer? Mosquitos got you down? Feeling a little stressed with kids, teens and young adults around the house all summer? Dreading your next Zoom meeting?

You need a summer vacation from your stress levels, yet, somehow enjoying the stress-free version of this season we all fantasize about is harder than it looks.

Creative activities can reduce stress, improve mood, and enhance overall well-being.

Creating art boosts the good kind of dopamine (not the TikTok kind!), the neurotransmitter associated with feelings of pleasure and reward.

Hobbies can improve cognitive function (see you'll even be better at work!), increase problem-solving skills, and promote social connections.

By taking time to engage in a fulfilling hobby, you cultivate your creativity while supporting your mental and emotional health. And you also get to make pretty pictures!

Why You Need a Screen-Free Art Practice

In a world where screen time can feel like a full-time job, having a tangible art practice that gets you outdoors is as refreshing as a summer breeze on a triple digit day. 

Creating cyanotypes offers a tactile, hands-on experience that gets you away from your devices and into the real world.

This physical engagement can be grounding and meditative, helping to reduce digital fatigue and promote mindfulness.

Plus, there’s nothing quite like seeing your art come to life in your own hands, without any dings or pings from your digital device. 

Sunprint Cyanotype by Lori Battaglia

How to Create Sunprint Cyanotypes: A Fun and Simple Guide
Ready to make some cyanotype magic? Here’s what you’ll need and how to get started:

Materials Needed:

  • Leaves or Flowers: Gather these from your garden or a local park.
  • Photo-Sensitive Cyanotype Paper: Easily available on Amazon.
  • Old Picture Frame Glass: To hold your materials in place for the outdoor exposure.
  • Water: Regular tap water will do. Fire up that hose or just fill a baking pan with water from the sink.

Step-by-Step Process for the beginner sunprint Cyanotype:

  1. Collect leaves, flowers, feathers from a nature walk.
  2. Arrange Your Design: Place your leaves or flowers on the photo-sensitive paper inside and cover it with the glass and cardboard from the picture frame and take outside.
  3. Expose to Sunlight: Leave the setup in the sun for about 10-20 minutes. The sunlight will develop the image.
  4. Rinse in Water: Remove the paper from the frame and rinse it in water. Watch as your image transforms into a beautiful blue! Hang to dry on a clothes line, then flatten and enjoy!

Upcoming Workshop: Learn from the Expert

Ready to go beyond the basics?

Join our June Life Feast Creative Workshop: Summer Cyanotypes with guest expert Lori Battaglia. Lori is a surface pattern designer, cyanotype artist, and fine art photographer who will guide you through this technique with modern twists.

In this workshop, you'll learn from Lori what elements from nature work best and why. She'll de-mystify the process of making a full size negative with just your inkjet printer. There are settings (before you print) that you absolutely need to understand to make it all easily work. She'll take the guesswork out of cloudy days and exposure time and she'll even show you how to make your own Cyanotype paper with beautiful brush strokes for the real deal version of those quintessential "messy" photo borders.

Workshop Details:

  • Date: Wednesday, June 19, 2024
  • Time: 5pm PT, 6pm MT, 7pm CT, 8pm ET
  • Location: Online via Zoom 
  • Sign Up: Register Here

If you can’t attend live, no worries! You’ll receive the recording, recommended supplies list, and additional video tutorials.

Plus, Lori is coming back in August to show us even more Cyanotype tips and tricks!

Why Join This Life Feast Workshop?

This workshop is designed to provide you with everything you need to master cyanotype photography:

  • Cyanotypes made easy: In just one hour, you’ll learn the entire cyanotype process that go way beyond the sunprints of dandelions, from preparing materials, choosing and editing the best photos, printing your negatives, to making your own paper and developing your prints.
  • Creative Inspiration: Discover new ways to use your cyanotypes in various projects, such as cards, gift wrap, and home decor.
  • Community Support: Join The Life Feast, a fun, supportive, and inspiring community filled with creative photography classes infused with curiosity, joy, adventure, play, and mindfulness.

The Life Feast Membership: These are not your usual photography classes!

By joining The Life Feast, you gain access to a vast library of creative photo classes, all designed to spark joy and creativity. Our community is here to teach, inspire, educate, entertain, and support you in the most playful, low-pressure way.

Doors to The Life Feast Membership close on June 19th! Don’t miss your chance to join and enjoy a summer full of creative exploration.

Reserve Your Spot Today!

Click here to register and transform your summer with beautiful, creative cyanotypes. Here’s to a BLUE-tiful, creative, and simple summer with The Life Feast.

About Lizzie Larock

Lizzie Larock is the creator of The Photowalk Guide, The Life Feast, and Art of Life Creativity Retreats. Passionate about photography and creativity, Lizzie aims to inspire others to find joy, get out of stress and be more mindful through creative and playful practices.

PS: Yes, you can find similar workshops on YouTube, but will you ever actually do them? The Life Feast is here to teach, inspire, educate, entertain, and support you in the most playful, low-pressure way. Join us and stop the scroll to start creating!


50% Complete

Just pop your email address in here and you'll receive my FREE photowalk guide.