Having a photo studio at home allows for endless styles of photography, ranging from beauty modelling and portraiture, to product shots, family shoots, and even vlogging. And unless you rent a professional studio, you’ll likely have no way to practise many of these styles on your own. So having your own setup can be highly rewarding, alongside providing you with the opportunity to practise greater creative agency.
But when you start planning your new shutter studio, various questions arise. Like ‘what camera gear do I need?’ And this question is likely to have many answers, which will see you frantically googling where you can find lightboxes, flashes, a muslin sheet, or the best small printers on the market.
To ease you into it, here is our checklist for everything that you’ll need to consider when setting up your very own at-home photography studio.
How To Set Up A Home Photography Studio:
- Where do you start?
- Will your studio be portable or fixed?
- What size should your studio be?
- What’s a small studio space like?
- What’s essential for a small photo studio?
- What should you add for a mid-size studio?
- How about those home studio kits?
1. Where do you start?
If you want to dream a little bigger or you have a bit more commercial camera equipment than you can store at home, then your first thought may be to look at local studios for rent in your area. But for those looking to build a business as a professional photographer, it’s good to keep your overhead costs as low as possible. This is why many budding photographers actually end up opening up their first studio from the comfort of their own homes.
The first step involved when creating a photography studio at home is simply to decide what you want your studio to look like. Have a look at other home studios online to get a better feel for the type of space you’d like to create. From here, decide what size you want to make it, and what equipment you want to start with. If there’s no room in your home that’s quite big enough to house your set-up then consider moving your studio into a garage or shed space, if you have one on hand. If not, then think on how you can make your studio more compact without sacrificing on its functionality.
2. Will your studio be portable or fixed?
Speaking of ‘staying compact’, a beginner’s photography studio should generally be portable – think a good tripod and some lights. But you should consider how often you’ll be using your setup here too. Would you like to schedule photoshoots on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis? If you are looking to work full-time as a photographer, then you’d greatly benefit from creating a fixed set-up. You’ll also want to bolt a backdrop roller to one of the walls in your studio, and have considerable space available – like a whole room.
But again, if you’re just dipping your toe in, the perfect place to start is just a corner with plenty of window light and a nice wall. You should also keep your studio space as agile and portable as possible, just so you can feel free to take on any off-site jobs that come your way. Keeping your set-up agile is particularly valuable for those who are looking to build their own small business as a photographer.
3. What size should your studio be?
If you’re starting from the ground up, 2m by 2m will be enough for a space for someone to sit, and a floor lamp or softbox. Headshots, vlogs, and macro photos need little more than that, so it’s a good place to start, but this size is pretty limiting.
Full-body modelling or portraits usually need double that (4mx4m), and if you’re bringing in hair or makeup stylists, they’ll need a space of their own too. It’s at this point that the size begins to balloon out. If you’re considering group shots or using props, you’ll need to dedicate a room to your studio, and beyond that you may want to try renting a studio space as we mentioned earlier.
That being said, it’s perfectly reasonable to map out your home photography studio with the intention of building your revenue up until you can afford to rent out a dedicated space for your business. With a bit of patience and planning, you should have no issues with finding or even creating a space that perfectly suits your needs.
4. What’s a small studio space like?
As you may have imagined, small spaces typically only need short lenses, portable lights, and perhaps a bit of careful manoeuvring. You’ll often have to move your lights yourself, which could naturally increase your risks of tripping. And tripping hazards can be calamitous, so be sure to check that you use sandbags for supporting any heavier standing lights.
Alongside this, there are other considerations that need to be made when working with a smaller studio space. For starters, you should also check that you have electrical outlets nearby, and that your camera will be able to focus at close ranges. And temperature control is another important consideration that many of us can easily forget about. Uncovered windows and harsh lighting can quickly result in heat accumulating in your studio space, so investing in air conditioning or cooling appliances is also a must.
5. What’s essential for a small photo studio?
If you are opting to go for a smaller photography studio, then here’s a quick little list of essential equipment that you should consider adding to your space. Assuming you have your short lens, tripod, and furniture ready, you’ll want to focus on the lighting. Basic beauty lighting needs three lights: the key light, fill light and backlight. You can start small with LED panels and reflectors and work your way up.
Once you’ve bought a softbox or two, then look to investing in a few stands for these assets. And we cannot stress this enough – don’t skimp on the stands. Strong, heavy stands will protect your lights and your models.
After that, you can consider investing in photo umbrellas, multiple flashes, remote controls, and backdrops as well. In other words, invest in whatever equipment will improve your photo production quality and help ensure that your printed work really pops.
6. What should you add for a mid-size studio?
With the basics down, you can refine and specialise. This means adding some more functional furniture to your studio space. Step ladders come in handy when dealing with tall lights or considering alternate angles; Large fans can be used for both wind effects and cooling; stools, couches, and tables will come in useful for posing and full-body shots. And with all these in place, extension cords, power strips, and wall mounts will soon become necessary for proper set-up and safe cord management.
You may even opt to expand on your collection of equipment when moving into a larger studio space. For example, you could invest in a few more lenses to add to your selection or perhaps even grab a few more tripods and monopods for easy location shooting. And why not even look into grabbing a high-performance drone to capture aerial shots? The sky really is the limit here.
7. How about those home studio kits?
Though quality may vary (beware of flimsy stands), home studio kits often give you all that you need to start your studio: two or three lights, a couple of reflectors, and maybe some flash remotes and a greenscreen. For a couple hundred bucks you can jumpstart the studio, and get shooting. Then, once you’ve got a feel for working in your studio, you can start upgrading– you might like to start with the lights, they’re often quite dull.
Simply put, the more you use it, the more your home studio will grow. But one thing is clear: you don’t need much to get started.
With creative angles, clever organising, and thoughtful lighting, any part of your house can become a charming home studio. Just avoid using the light bulbs or lamps you already have around your house – they’re never as bright as you’d like!