The beauty of art is that it can be created anywhere. If you think that you need a full blown studio to create some great photos then you’re wrong. All you need is a bit of ingenuity, some space, and the knowledge of how to use the tools at your disposal. I started my business in 2013 and regularly use my apartment as a studio (props to the wife for sticking with it!) Using the space I have and constantly reworking how I shoot has yielded tremendous results. As a photographer you need to know how to cheat your surroundings and guide your client’s eye to what your eye sees. Make sense? Good.
Here is an example of a simple setup I use:
This was for a clothing line with one model, shot on seamless white backdrop. The tripod is to ensure consistency in the photos and the wireless strobe is a must have for any shoot I have found. I use Godox 300s
They are extremely cost effective, bright, and get the job done as well as higher end strobes. Their one drawback is that these models don’t high speed sync, but that’s ok I love them all the same. Find what works for you and use the most amount of space available in smart way that accommodate whatever lenses you use.
Now apart from the couches and TV in the background this is a pretty straight forward setup. The audience will never see the couches or TV. When photos get edited all you see is the subject. You have to remember to tell your clients that. Some folks have the idea that what their eyes see is going to be the final product and that the setting should be 100% high end studio. You need to explain that the camera only sees one thing at a time. Also just because you’re at a restaurant it doesn’t mean the food is going to be as good as home cooking sometimes.
Here is an image from this particular shoot:
For all intents and purposes if anyone sees this photo they have no idea where it was shot. This image was part of a very straight forward catalog shoot. There was no need to rent a studio to achieve the same effect. Instead I used my apartment, equipment, stands, and a seamless backdrop I picked up for less than $30.00 – you can supply your apartment with items found at a studio without hurting your wallet. Plus, these items by default end up being portable so you can take them with you to location shoots.
Here is a supplementary image shot with the same model from a different shoot also using my home studio.
This was the same setup with a different background. Everything I use can easily be packed away and setup in a short amount of time. Sometimes less is more and through having home grown photo shoots you will become accustomed to not over-gear yourself and to play with what you have to achieve some great results.
One big thing is that you need to know your gear to work with it in a functional home setting. Know the limits of your lenses and how much distance they need for a certain effect. I shoot a lot of headshots and tend to shoot on a plain backdrop like this next example ( I would also shoot right outside my place for a different effect or in a doorway for a more office look):
Again most folks wouldn’t think that this was shot in some dude’s house. That’s because the subject as always is the focus of the piece and you can bring that rationale to any shoot you have if you need to cheat and background and make an airport look like an office or making a stagnant event look like a ton of people having fun. There’s a lot to be said about learning about closeness with this approach between photographer and subject. If you learn to shoot snug then you can shoot in any situation. I also find that shooting from your home adds a certain comfort level to clients. A good idea is to always have fresh coffee, bottled water, and unopened snacks on hand. When you invite people into your home you should be the best host on Earth and be as accommodating at possible. When it’s go time I treat my home like an office. Tidy up, make the place look great, make sure your bathroom is clean, and be as inviting as possible. It doesn’t hurt to dress like you’re going to the office either. No one wants to see you in your basketball shorts and Godzilla t-shirt when they come over for an important shoot.