A home photo studio is useful in so many ways. I originally built mine to help with my online business selling products on eBay. Eventually, my setup expanded and now occupies my basement. I use it to take portraits and very specific kinds of photos like closeups of water droplets. If you want to get creative, a home photo studio is a must. Here's how to setup yours.
Start Small And Work Your Way Up
I never had a bunch of equipment when I setup my first home photo studio. I was just trying to take photos for eBay. Practically anything would have worked, but the most useful tools in my belt were the following:
• Diffuser Box
• White Vinyl Backdrop
• Two Small Lamps
That's about all you need for the most basic setup. I'll explain some of the pieces.
A diffuser box is just a rectangular white covering that you place over the top of a lamp. It takes the harsh and direct light that comes out of a lamp and converts it into a more diffuse kind of light that's better for taking pictures. You don't even need to cover up your lamps to get the same effect. If your subject is small enough, you can place a diffuser box around your subject.
To make your own diffuser box (also known as a soft box), get some wire coat hangers and untwist them. You are then going to work the pieces together by wrapping the wire around the ends of the other untwisted hangers. Try to make a few big square shapes. Once you've done that, get some extra-large white cotton t-shirts and wrap them around your contraption. Three of these things propped up against each other should make a handy soft box.
Of course, you can also buy the same thing at the store...
The white vinyl backdrop is absolutely essential. I couldn't get by without it. It's just nice to know I have a completely distraction free place to take my photos. It seems that, no matter where I go in my house, something gets in the way. You can buy white vinyl at most hobby stores. I recommend buying more than you think you need.
And finally, the lamps. You need two because you want to completely eliminate shadows from your photos. It's usually enough to place one on the right and another on the left. If you decide to upgrade and buy a third lamp, you will want to place it in front.
Dedicate An Entire Room To Photography
As you become a better photographer, you are going to want more from your studio. I eventually moved to the basement so I could have more room. You might be ready right now if you have the space, but I wouldn't be kicking the baby out just yet.
A larger home studio will help you capture life-sized subjects. If you are a professional portrait photographer, you can't live without one. Most larger studios have the following pieces of equipment:
• Giant rolls of colored material for a backdrop
• A Stool and several step-ladders
• Air conditioners and ventilation
• Multiple power outlets
Another reason I switched to a bigger setup is because studio lights generate a ton of heat. After a few hot summer sessions in a small bedroom, you yearn for something that doesn't give you a heat stroke every time you use it. If you're going to create a studio out of a room, do yourself a favor and invest in some ventilation.
It's important to paint most of the room white as well. Whenever you use a flash, the light from the flash bounces off the walls and lands on your subject. When you paint the walls white, it returns the same colored light no matter where your subject is standing. You need this if you want to create consistent images.
I've also heard this from a few sources. They say your photo studio should be in a room that's at least half as wide as it is long. This makes sense. You don't want to limit the focal range on your camera. Your pictures won't turn out that well when you are forced to use a wide-angle lens when you should be using telephoto.
This leaves me a little curious. Have any of you tried to setup a home studio? How did it go? Did you get into any snags? I'd love to hear your story.
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