How to Set up a Portrait Studio at Home - B&C Camera

In the photography industry, you have a good chance of creating a home studio. You can be your own boss, build up a clientele and make your own business hours to fit your needs. How attractive does all of that sound? I bet a lot. 


So, now you must be thinking, "how do I start?" Let's break down all the essentials you need to make your home studio dreams come true. 



• Research: Always start with research. Benchmark what other studios around you are doing and what type of setup they have. Check out their pricing and other basics to help give you a starting point and a better grasp on how you want to handle your photography studio.


• Location: Right now, it's very trendy for clients to want their photoshoots to be taken in the outdoors. There are so many beautiful sceneries already created for you. If you can find a great location at a park, a field, a garden and, more, then you have a great chance of being able to stick with the outdoors. Unfortunately, the elements aren't always on our side. You might want to have a fixed location indoors to take photographs. On the flip side, if your subject is a product, you can get away with an even smaller indoor studio that can be packed up and put away when not in use. Make sure your space has a source of power to plug in any gear that you will need.


• Size: Especially when you're just starting, you shouldn't need too large of a space for your studio. If you have an extra room or a tidy garage, you can easily convert them into a home studio. You'll need enough space for your subject (whether that is an object, a newborn, a family, or a single person), a background and a stand, and lights.


• Lighting: Speaking of the size and location of your home studio, both of these can affect your lighting needs. The smaller the room, the harder it will be to control your light. Smaller rooms will work best with natural light from a window. If your space is ample, you'll be able to alter and control your artificial lighting much more accessible. 


• Ahh, what if I only have a small space?!: If your area is small, you'll have to limit what you can offer out of your studio. You'll need to stick to headshots, small products, or newborn photography. Consider what type of lenses will also work best in smaller spaces. You'll need a lens with a shorter focal length - between 85-105mm.


• Gear to consider: Start slowly with your essentials and build up from there.

Lights and stands - Purchase three manual speedlights and a reflector (you can also start with one but will eventually need more). You'll also need light stands for each of your lights. For this, try not to purchase cheap. You will want sturdy stands to ensure your lights have enough support.

Flash Trigger - Before purchasing, you'll need to know that a flash trigger will have to be compatible with your lights and camera. This little tool is handy to control your flash remotely.

Lighting modifiers - This is a long list but, they are all modifiers you should consider.

  1. Reflectors - These will help force light back to your screen.
  2. Umbrellas - This will help soften lights from the flash.
  3. Softbox/Octabox - These will cost more than umbrellas but, they will allow you to control your light while giving you a soft glow.
  4. Gels - These are semi-transparent sheets that come in different shapes and colors. Gels can help with the light effect.
  5. Flags - This helps stop bouncing light. You can even make this yourself by purchasing black curtains.

• Backgrounds- Backgrounds that can collapse are great for small spaces and storage reasons. You can start with a white background and then go from there. You can choose cute ones to accompany family and newborn portraits or stick with solid colors. 


• Optional Gear

• Step ladders - This can be a great tool to get higher angles and switch up your perspective.

• Pads/Cushion - Speaking of switching up your perspective. Having some sort of pads or cushions for your knees will help when you are trying to get lower angles.

• Extensions & power strips - If you're limited to one outlet, extensions and power strips can end up being more than just optional gear. 

• Furniture - To help set the scenery, think of chairs, stools, or benches. These will help if you are doing more than just headshots.

• Accessories - Invest in some accessories depending on what type of photography you are doing. Example: For holiday photos, invest in a few small fake trees or another decor to make the photo fun.


Now that you know what type of gear you will need, how do you launch your business? After you have set your home studio up, start practicing. If people are your subject, use your family and friends. If products are your subject, play around with stuff you have at home. After you've taken these photos, you'll get a better idea of what you want to do and what you don't want to do. Doing this is the best opportunity to tweak certain things. Also, ask for feedback from your family and friends to get their opinions. If you feel that your presentation looks professional and you're ready, you can launch your home studio to the public. Hands down, the two best ways to promote your business are by word of mouth and social media. Make sure you have a portfolio ready. You want your clients to know what photography aesthetic you have. Create social media pages to market and advertise. If you're shooting products, ask local businesses with e-commerce if they need assistance and show them your portfolio.


These tips should help you build your confidence and studio to ensure you're ready to get out there and have fun. You can even take a few of our classes to improve your photography skills.


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