- Photography Studio Space - Temp or Permanent?
- Photography Studio Basic Gear - Tripod
- Photography Studio Basic Gear - Lighting
- Photography Studio Extra Gear
- Tips for Using Your Photography Studio
- Recommended Photography Gear
- What Is the Best Tripod Head for Your Needs?
- The Benefits of Investing in a Quality Tripod for Your Photography
- How To Use a Tripod Properly
Photo by Bet_Noire via iStock
A photography studio is within the reach of almost anyone involved in photography. It doesn’t matter if you are taking photos as a hobby, as a full-time pro, or as a side hustle; an arrangement for studio photography is simple to set up.
Since you’re looking at setting up your own photography studio, I’ll assume you’re proficient at the type of photography you enjoy, so I’ll concentrate on the actual studio itself and not so much on the techniques and skills involved in studio photography.
Studio photography can involve various genres of photography, by the way. A lot of photography studios are used for portraits, but small product photography is also a good candidate for studio photography. Pet photography, copying flat art, or insurance documentation are also in the mix.
Food and recipe photography is a photography genre that also benefits from using your own photography studio. Basically, any type of photography where you want complete control is a candidate for it.
Please check out our many articles covering lighting, posing, post-processing, composition, and so on to find helpful tips for improving your photography skills.
There are many avenues open to you for setting up and equipping a photography studio of your own, but many of the gear choices fall into a few basic categories: the place, the lighting, and holding the camera.
Here’s how to get up and running quickly!
Table of Contents:
Photography Studio Space - Temp or Permanent?
Photo by Alphotographic via iStock
One of the most important considerations for any studio photography is where to set up your photography studio. Do you already have a good space in your home or office? Will you set aside a permanent spot for the studio, or will you set up and tear down your studio for each session?
To qualify as a good space for a photography studio, a spot needs room to place the camera, lighting, and subject together without being cramped. You want to be able to move freely enough to change settings, adjust lighting, and have the subject able to move within your camera’s framing.
For some photographers, a table or chair in an otherwise unused corner of a room is spacious enough. For other photographers, you might want an entire unused room, half a room, or a clean garage space.
If you have the space for it, leaving the photography studio set up and ready to go is helpful. However, storing your photography studio gear for easy access is also a great solution if you can easily move things around and quickly set up your gear.
Whether you’re equipping a permanent space or setting up temporarily each time, much of the gear can be the same for most photography studio ideas.
Your camera and lens choices are already made, and I’m sure they’re excellent. So many options are available in all the formats used by many pros, such as MFT, APS-C, Full Frame, and the various Medium Format sizes.
Photography Studio Basic Gear - Tripod
A versatile tripod is a basic need for studio photography.
I’m sure you’ve seen the iconic TV and Film representation of a studio fashion photographer rolling all over the set, taking pictures, which is entirely valid, by the way. Still, studio photography in all genres benefits from putting your camera on a tripod.
Having the camera on a tripod lets you keep the same framing and point of view while adjusting poses or subject placement. It also keeps the exposure setting constant since the lights stay the same distance from the camera.
A tripod also puts your camera on a secure footing so there is no camera movement during the longer shutter speeds you sometimes require to use the lens aperture you want.
You want your tripod to steady, and you want it to move into whatever position and orientation you need to get the shot. For flat art copy work and a lot of product photography, being able to place the camera over the subject is also an important consideration.
I like a multi-purpose tripod with a horizontally adjustable center column for studio photography. It can be used as a standard tripod for shooting portraits or other straight-on compositions, but I can also put the camera over any flat art or products best imaged from overhead.
It’s a very sturdy aluminum tripod with a center column that can move horizontally and up and down. Vanguard calls it the MACC (Multi-Angle Center Column), and their version of this feature moves from 0-degree to 180-degree angles in variable vertical and horizontal positions, which is quite innovative, giving you lots of positions from which to shoot.
The version in this kit comes equipped with the heavy-duty VEO BH-160 ball head that takes Arca-compatible quick-release plates. This ball head moves smoothly for easy setups and locks tight for ultra-sharp photos. An extra QR plate is included for your second camera or large lens.
The tripod legs are also multi-angle, spreading out wide and independently so you can put your camera exactly where you need it. This function is also extremely valuable for use in the field on all terrain.
For field use, you can also convert one leg of this tripod into a monopod. If you need a new tripod for your new photography studio, you might as well go for one that is as versatile as it is strong!
Photography Studio Basic Gear - Lighting
Photo by kinemero via iStock
Lighting options for your photography studio are as varied as the types of cameras we use, but I narrow it down to just two general types: strobes or flash and continuous lights.
The terms strobe and flash can be used interchangeably, but when used to describe lighting systems, I tend to look at flashes as being able to be mounted on camera and strobes as stand-alone units.
Many on-camera flashguns can also be used off-camera, tied together, and controlled by the camera’s exposure system. Studio strobes tend to be larger and more powerful, also with superfast recycle times. Some studio strobes can also be tied into your camera’s exposure.
I like continuous lightning in my photography studio for a few reasons. A big reason is that I can have the same lights for my still photography and my videos. I also like being able to instantly see what changes when I change power levels, color temps, and light placement.
Modeling lights helps with strobes but not as much for me as seeing the actual full effect.
In this short promotional video from Vanguard about their Studio Creator Kit, take a good look at the lighting gear they’re showing; it will give you some good ideas for your own photography studio:
For studio photography continuous lights, I much prefer the LED lights over incandescent or fluorescent bulbs. Incandescent bulbs get really hot, which is a chore to deal with in a smaller photography studio and no fluorescent is as color-balanced as they claim to be.
Continuous LED lights can be in a flat panel style or configured in the same form as studio strobes and cinema lighting. Each style has pluses, but you must determine what features and functions you’ll use most in your studio photography.
I also include the background or backdrop as part of the photography studio lighting setup. A backdrop can be a blank wall, or you can look into the many excellent backdrops that range in size from about a sheet of poster board to full-size ones measured in feet.
Photography Studio Extra Gear
What extra gear will you want for your photography studio? In the video shown above, you see various styles of light stands and lighting mounts. Light stands, or alternatives such as clamps or low-profile camera mounts are essential for a permanent or temporary studio configuration.
Light modifiers such as photo umbrellas, soft boxes, and reflectors are worth their weight in gold. With the proper light modifier, you can make anything happen regarding photographic lighting styles.
Another vital extra is a bag or case or case to hold your camera gear. Most of the studio photography gear I use can be transported and used in remote locations and in my home photography studio.
The Vanguard VEO BIB F36 camera bag included in the Studio Creator Kit is a great bag for storing gear or for carrying to a location. It has two places for a camera, is sturdy and well-padded, and is easy to open and close for gear access. It looks nice, too, a plus for any professional photographer.
Tips for Using Your Photography Studio
Photo by Salameh dibaei via iStock
Some tips for using your photography studio are to keep the area as clean as possible, either the permanent setup or the spot you’re using for a temporary studio. This keeps the images looking as good as possible, plus it speeds up your actual photography workflow.
If your photography studio is a temp setup, I find that it helps to have a spot in your home or office that won’t require a lot of moving furniture around. If you have to do a major redecorating job each time you want to use your temp photography studio, you’ll get tired of it and may not use it as much as you could otherwise.
Climate control is another non-photography thing to keep in mind. You want your subject to be as comfortable as possible if the subject is a person. Even if you’re primarily involved in product or flat art studio photography, you’ll do better and be happier yourself with AC or heating, depending on the season.
Setting up your very own photography studio is just that simple. You can always expand from the basics of your first studio configuration as needed. A lot of great photography and videography can happen with the ideas presented here. Enjoy!