Creating a home office is a challenge for many freelancers, but for photographers, it’s especially taxing. Curating and designing a photography studio in your home not only requires investments in equipment (which can be expensive) but there are certain physical requirements your studio must meet as well — from lighting to background — which can have huge impacts on your profitability as a small photography business.
So, how to make your own photography studio at home? How do you know when creating a home studio is the right move? Is the investment worth the risk? In today’s article, we’ve created a list of tips on how to create the best home photography studio that gives you a sense of what’s involved. A home studio can be a great and financially wise decision, but before you open your home to clients, you should be sure to have a setup that will give you great results and deliver the stunning photography that has so far helped you make a name for yourself.
Elements of a Standard Home Photo Studio Setup
As you’re planning, there are a few basic ingredients to any home photography to keep in mind.
- Dedicated Space: If you think you can pull off a home studio that’s part photography space, part playpen, part reading room, think again. Don’t try to double up on the functionality of your room. Doing so will only confuse things, and force you to constantly be re-organizing your gear, which creates opportunities for loss and damage. Also, your family does not want to be tripping over your gear. You also don’t want your clients feeling like they are entering your personal space. Make it clear that your space has one purpose and one purpose only: excellent photography.
- Room Size: Another important element to consider is the room size. Your studio doesn’t have to be located in a gargantuan room. But you will need to have an appropriate depth that will allow you to capture shots of varying widths. (There’s only so much a business can make off of headshots and portraits, after all.) Also not to be overlooked is the height of the ceilings. Having low ceilings will give the light a natural surface to bounce off of, kind of like a makeshift, built-in reflector board, which can add extra light to your images. It may take a bit of experimentation to get the levels right, but with a bit of practice, you can really master the unique settings of your room.
- Lighting Setup: You should also think about the balance between natural versus artificial lighting setup. A challenge for every photographer is the balance of light in any setting. You can, of course, buffer any limitations in natural light (like lack of windows) with artificial lighting (like lamps). When a window is placed in an ideal location in the room, it can be a huge boon, as the effect and the quality of the photo itself will be different depending on the light source. In short, it’s good to have options. But just because a room lacks a window doesn’t discount it from being a good studio room. Artificial lighting technology has come a long way. More on that later.
- Backdrops: The more backdrops, the better. This is obviously not a deal-breaker, as there are a lot of different backdrops stands you can buy (from plain white to printed graphics and locations), and you can also create some stunning backdrops during post-production (the PicsArt photo editing app can help with this!). But you know you’ve got a winner if your room comes with a brick wall — or even multiple different materials. While some clients may be looking for seamless and simple backdrops, like just a plain white, others will appreciate having natural options.
Must-Have Equipment for Your Home Photography Studio Setup
Once you’ve considered basic elements about the space, you’ll next need to think about gear. Depending on how long you’ve been in the business, you may have already accumulated a lot of equipment. Maybe that makes starting a home studio a total no-brainer. But there’s always potential to fill in gaps, so here’s a little list of things you might want to consider:
- Lighting Equipment: Getting the lighting right is one of the biggest challenges in photography. To start, at least one light should be enough. But according to the pros, three will give you the most flexibility, with ideally at least one being a strobe. You’ll also need light stands.
- Flash Trigger: This lets you trigger a flash remotely, which can be essential when you’re working with a client.
- Lighting Modifiers: A reflector and umbrella are a must. You can find them quite cheap on the internet. Try to find ones that are small and easy-to-store.
- Backdrops: If you cannot install a permanent background, there are so many collapsible backgrounds that are great if you’re just starting out, and you can work your way up from there.
- A Stool or Small Table: Having a stool or table in your studio space will always come in handy. Whether it’s for your model to pose on or for you to set up your laptop and review images after your shoot, these little touches will help professionalize your DIY set-up.
- Clamps and Clips: These versatile tools can be used for just about anything. Whether to hold up your backdrop, attach a continuous light to a tripod, or put a flag in place to block out the light, there’s a reason they are a must-have in every studio.
- Remote Shutter: A remote shutter is another great addition to your new studio. You can use it to minimize camera movement and get the sharpest images, allowing you to capture amazing action shots. It will also allow you to focus your eyes and attention directly on what is happening on set, instead of on the viewfinder.
Pros and Cons of Making a DIY Photography Studio
There are a number of benefits to opening your own studio in your home, not least of which is the independence to do whatever you want to and arrange it in a way that suits your needs perfectly. But there are others. While making your home studio can be a big upfront investment, it will typically save you in the end on costs of renting a studio elsewhere. It will also save you in travel time (which can add up, especially for freelancers, for whom time is money!). It can also be a more personal experience for clients to meet in your home, which can feel cozier and more relaxing than a traditional office space, and where they can get to know you as a photographer and as a person.
The biggest downside to a DIY home studio is the blurred lines that inevitably form between your personal and professional life. With a home studio, you’ll be working out of the same place that you spend your leisure time. A client coming over might be subjected to the smells of that evening’s dinner and that may not cultivate the most professional impression. There’s also something to be said for having a studio in a commercial area, where it’s visible to passersby, has signage, a storefront to showcase your work, and a reception area where you meet clients. Just something to consider!
Creative Home Photography Studio Ideas
Even if you have a small space, it’s still possible to make a studio that will deliver great results. A little ingenuity can go a long way! For example, instead of purchasing expensive backdrops and lighting equipment, you can start by repurposing old bedsheets and stapling them to a PVC pipe or piece of wood to weigh them down and flatten them. Alternatively, if your wall is already white, that’s the cheapest option. Or if it’s not white, painting could also be more budget-friendly than purchasing a professional backdrop. As for lighting, choose a room that has some windows, but not too many. Make sure windows are on the opposite side of the room from where you plan to do your shoots so that lighting is evenly distributed. You can control the light with different types of curtains. If you want to rely only on bulbs, make sure to have some blackout curtains. A spare umbrella is also great for helping achieve various lighting effects.
Apply Professional Edits to Your Studio Photos
Making your own studio is an important step in launching a small photography business, but nothing will change the fact that your product is the photos themselves. You can make sure your images are edited to perfection with the suite of tools available to you on the PicsArt, both on mobile and desktop. Happy editing!
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