Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Tech Talk Tuesday - Setting Up a Home Studio (Part 4)

Thanks for sticking with me!  I'm still not through 'unscrewing up' the mess I made with my computer.  Actually it had to do with importing and exporting from Lightroom, and instead of losing photos, I duplicated about 15,000 photos, mostly huge raw files, which my computer didn't like one bit!  So anyway, don't tell anyone that 'Tech Talk Tuesday' is being posted on Wednesday.

We've talked about the size and type of space you'll need, from a corner in your family room to a large area in your basement, that you could dedicate to your photography hobby.  We've talked about how to prepare that space, and some of the basics you'll need to get started in the way of camera accessories, backdrops, props, etc.  Then we talked about various types of lighting you can use, including some basic information on studio lighting.  (For those of you just checking in, you can find Parts 1,2,3 of this little mini series by clicking on 'Tech Talk Tuesdays' under the header.)

Today I'm going to show you a few photos of my friend Kimberly, (and her business partner Amy's),  home studio to see how they put it all together.  Remember, however, they had the financial resources to remodel part of a basement and purchase adequate equipment to run a professional business.  Most of us will probably not be able to manage something as extensive, but we certainly can get some ideas.  Here we go:

To the right is the door into the 'reception' area.  There is a separate entrance from the outside of the house to enter the studio.  To the left is the seating area and down the stairs is the studio.

This is looking into the sitting area from the main entrance.  Did I mention that my friend and her partner are primarily portrait photographers?  Here is where they meet with clients, and later review 'proofs'.  The door leads to a bathroom.

Looking down into the studio from the reception/sitting room.  Note the dark neutral colors and custom painted walls.  Also note the  system they use for hanging roles of seamless paper to create a backdrop.  Remember, though, we talked about many inexpensive ways to accomplish the same thing using pvc pipe or brackets attached to the wall that will hold a roll of paper.  Note that the ceilings are high, but one thing that Kimberly said, was that in hindsight, the studio space is not large enough to photograph any more than very small groups.

Here is a view looking back up to the reception area.

Here is another backdrop setup.  They've built a frame with utility stands, then are able to hang curtains or other fabric or material to create the background look they want.  If you are looking for ways to save, think pvc pipe for this one.

This shows their key light with a large soft box attached, and a reflector attached to a stand.  Even if you only have one light, you can create lovely portraits, however, a basic system that would cover most everything you need would be a four light system.  The key light is the main 'tool' the photographer uses for his artistry and should be able to move freely.  The fill light is an even wash of light, and when used with the key light at various ratios, creates different highlights and shadows depending on the ratio and where the lights are placed.  The background light is placed between the person and the backdrop to add separation.  The harelight (also called hairlight), is placed above the person's head to add shine and highlights to the hair.  Other lights, including spotlights can be added for special effects.  The type and placement of these lights vary so much between photographers that it will take some study and practice to see what works for you or what you like best.  (See recommendation at end of this post.)

Here is part of their prop area.  As you can see, it includes seating, backdrops, tables, stands, baskets, etc.  Clothes include a variety of hats, shoes and boots, jewelry, etc.

It's easy and inexpensive to gather various fabrics to use as backdrops.  Sheets, curtains, blankets, bedspreads are all options.  Kimberly told me the best black backdrop is a textured bedspread.

As I think I mentioned before, Lowe's or Home Depot might become your best friend.  Here is a piece of wall paneling that is used as a floor prop or could be stood up and used as a backdrop.

One other part of their studio I neglected to photograph was a small room off the studio that is Kimberly's office and inspiration room.  She has large 'bulletin' boards on the walls where she clips and pins photos from magazines or elsewhere that she wants to remember, as well as other ideas to try.  This is also where she does her computer editing as well.  Kimberly and Amy do beautiful work.  Their business is called Tilt Photography and I would like you to check out their blog  here.  (Thanks Kimberly for taking the time to visit with me and helping me learn.) 

Note for the portrait photographer.  When you are serious about setting up a home studio, and want a short, concise, yet specific overview of what you need both for your studio and studio lights, and just as important, diagrams of where to put your lights, how to operate them and what settings to use, and also a review of the classic light patterns for portraiture, then you need to purchase a book titled "Professional Portrait Lighting" by Dave Newman.  He is a master photographer and a wonderful instructor.  I purchased this book at the workshop I attended and it is very easy to understand, with step by step instructions that even beginning photographers can understand.  Here is a link.

Hope these very basic posts have been useful, stretched your view of what is possible, and maybe given you a bit of incentive to make it more convenient to indulge in your photography addiction hobby!  Happy Shooting!