Working in a Home Studio

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

This might be considered the prequel to my post, “Developing a Personal Portrait Style,” but you can click on it and read it first or after this post; it doesn’t make any difference. The information is all there.

When setting up an in-home or in-apartment studio, the first thing you need is space but you really don’t need that much. But more is always better than less.

You can put a studio in a basement, garage, spare bedroom, or  use the living room as Mary and I did when we started our photography business many years ago. For each shoot, we would set up the lighting equipment and background and then knock it down and pack it away afterwards. It wasn’t the best way to operate but it got the work done and it worked.

In creating a studio from existing space in your home you need to be inventive and flexible. My first home studio was in an 8×9 foot space in an unfinished basement sandwiched between my model train layout at right and an old sofa on the left. Ceiling height was about 7.5 feet and so my choice of lighting modifiers was limited to small umbrellas but I successfully used a Plume Wafer lightbank as a main light in this space. My current home studio measures 11×15 feet and has a 9.5 feet ceiling height that gives me more flexibility in my choice of lighting modifiers. I can just barely shoot full-length shots in this space but do have room to use many different backgrounds.

Alternatives: Shooting in a garage, which I’ve also done, offers high ceilings providing more flexibility in lighting set-ups but that’s not a viable option for me because of the chilly  weather here in Colorado temps in the garage are around 50 degrees during winter. In more temperate climates, this could be an ideal solution, if your cars don’t mind being outside.



If you’re interested in learning how I shoot portraits and 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 from with, as I write this, for $26.37 new and $13.07 used.