Both professionals and advanced amateur photographers can enjoy a studio at home. It can be as simple or as elaborate as your needs dictate. It can even be a space that serves double duty. An unused corner of a game room can be used to shoot anything from product photos to award-winning portraits. The key in creating a great home photography studio is making your camera see the same as what your imagination is seeing as well as having plenty of light.
1- Backgrounds and Floors
If you shoot any sort of portraits from pets to people, an abundance of printed backgrounds and floors can turn whatever space you set aside for your photography studio into any type of space you need it to be. Printed backgrounds can mimic anything from the look of a Victorian mansion to the Golden Gate Bridge. Popular graffiti-strewn alleys and loading docks of high-school portraits can be recreated in your living room. Floor surfaces from ancient hardwoods to asphalt can be rolled out to get the exact look you want without traveling anywhere. Photographic backgrounds, also called backdrops, let your clients be photographed in any scene they desire without having to rent a location or worry about the weather or lighting.
2- Artificial and Natural Lighting
Using gels, umbrellas, snoots and reflectors along with artificial photographic lighting lets you be in complete control of the look of the images you are capturing. You can recreate the glow of a sunset pouring through a nearby window even if your studio is in a windowless basement. It just takes the right gear and a little bit of practice. If you do not already own the lighting rigs you want, then reliance on natural lighting is okay. It limits the time frames and locations in your home for your photo shoots. If you are in the northern hemisphere, a southern facing window will give you more hours of natural window light. An east-facing window will let you get the golden hour look in the morning, and a west-facing window will let you capture the golden hour light of the evenings. However, this is all relative to the season, the weather and nearby obstructions such as trees and buildings that can block the window light.
3- Rent the Stuff You Need
If you get a client that wants you to shoot macro photography of his butterfly collection and you do not have the lens or the lights, rent them. In fact, whenever you need a specialty lighting rig, lens or even cameras, rent them. This will keep your profits, if you are a pro, from going to things you only use occasionally and will save you a fortune in gear costs if you are an amateur photographer. Plus, renting lets you try before you buy. If you rent first, you can prevent a costly mistake in buying that new piece of kit you thought would be great only to find out it does not perform how you thought it would.
4- Buy Tough Storage Containers
Whether you lease a pro studio space or use your living room at home, your gear should have proper storage containers for it. Photographic gear is expensive, and it should be stored in sturdy containers that can take getting knocked around. Leaving things out, even in a rented studio space, invites accidents, misplacement and even the possibility of theft. Some gear comes with sturdy cases, and some do not. Pelican photographic gear cases are just one example of the type of sturdy protective kit you should invest in to protect your gear forever.
5- Photo Gear Insurance Concerns
Just because you are taking photos in your home studio where your home is covered by a homeowners insurance policy does not mean that your expensive camera gear is adequately covered. You should contact your insurance company and provide accurate and truthful information about your home photo studio, and then ask if your gear is covered. Get details of coverage amounts and deductibles in writing, especially if your written policy is a bit ambiguous. Even if you are an amateur photographer with a home studio, your work may be deemed professional as far as insurance is concerned. Also, inquire about off-site gear protection, and if and how rented gear is covered. You do not have to go overboard and buy an expensive policy, but you should know if your insurance policy covers your camera gear and to what degree.
6- Using Props
Your creativity as a photographer will very likely result in a huge collection of props being acquired as time passes. An old wingback chair from an antiques store, an old lamp set out in your neighbor’s trash, even a vintage surfboard at a garage sale all get a photographer’s creative imagination going. Props are used to convey everything from emotions to status.
The issue with both home and leased studios is space to properly store props. You may have everything from wardrobe items to large props such as furniture pieces. In addition to your home studio space, you need a place to keep your props. If you do spread out the storage of your props in different closets, drawers bins or rooms, be sure to have a master list of all props and where they are located. This helps keep your studio space uncluttered but allows you to put your hands on the props you need for your shoot quickly.
If you outgrow your home studio space, that is a good thing. It shows how you are advancing in your photographic hobby or career. However, before you ever move from having a home photo studio to a leased one, carefully consider the costs and conveniences lost or gained.