Today’s Post by Joe Farace
Over the years my home studio space has evolved. My first one was the living room in our condo, and it was in my home’s unfinished basement (next to the furnace) until today’s dedicated but small 11×15 studio in my home’s finished basement. While the ceiling height is less that desirable it’s of 8′-6″, which is an improvement over all my other shooting spaces. Here’s a few tips I picked up along the way:
If you decide to use a spare room, many homes have white or light colored walls that while aesthetically pleasing can be good or bad if you want to control the lighting. After my basement was flooded, Mary and I painted the studio walls Sherwin Williams Lazy Grey—similar to 18% grey—to minimize unwanted reflected light.
If you have plan to use backdrops, using a dedicated stand, like JTL’s 12′-3″ Wide Background Support System offers the most versatility. My older model has a grey finish but I like the black finish of the new model better. If you’re handy with tools Google “build a photo background stand” and you will find a number of DIY solutions. Many of these solutions use PVC pipe and construction techniques that only require a saw and some glue.
Next to lightstands, another thing you needs is clamps. They get a grip on your seamless paper to keep it from becoming a runaway and clamps can turn that flat muslin background into draped elegance. You’ll think of other uses. You can buy “official” photo clamps but I get mine from Home Depot and Lowes. These spring heavy-duty steel loaded clamps have vinyl tips to protect whatever you’re clamping and have holes in the handles for hanging clamped objects.
When it comes to portraiture, lighting isn’t only about the quantity of the light produced but is more often about the quality of that light. Why not build your own reflectors and scrims? The late Dean Collins was a lighting innovator and his Tinker Tubes concept uses PVC pipe to make a framework for reflectors and scrims. If you poke around on the Web and you will find information on this idea as well as other DIY solutions for building reflectors and scrims.
Another item no home studio should be without is pegboard. Over time, you’ll end up accumulating many small items from clamps to speed rings to reflectors to gaffers tape and all kinds of flotsam and jetsam. Hanging them on a piece of pegboard keeps them instantly at hand. And while you may be able to get a good set of hooks from Ace Hardware, I’ve found the selection at the home improvement stores to be small; I get my pegboard hooks from Amazon, of all places.
If you would like to learn how to shoot better portraits and would like some hands-on training, please check out my 2019 one-on-one workshops.
If you’re interested in learning how I use cameras, lenses and lighting in my in-home studio and on location, please pick up a copy of Studio Lighting Anywhere which is available new from Amazon.com for $21.57 or used for $9.94. The Kindle version is $19.99 for those preferring a digital format.