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Chris Garrett, photographer and large format printing expert, shares some ways that you can create professional quality photographs, of your art or subjects, with very little equipment or expense, in your own home.
I have spent so much time limiting myself to outdoor photography because I didn’t have access to a studio. Without the right lighting and backdrop, it’s difficult to get the high quality photographs I wanted. What I didn’t realize was that it is very simple to create a studio to use either inside or outside and get amazing results. Most of what I needed I already had and what I didn’t was very inexpensive compared to all brand new equipment. Whether you’re looking to move your photography indoors or to capture the nuance and quality of another type of art on film, these tips can help you to achieve professional photographs in your home or workspace.
What you can use:
- Two ladders
- An 8 ft. pole works great
- Various colors of sheets (make sure your colors are very rich, not faded from washing)
- Foam boards (for reflecting light)
- Your choice of lighting (natural light works very well)
Setting up your space.
If you are working indoors, you just need the room to set up. Moving furniture temporarily works, using the garage is great, but you should try to position it to where you have access to some natural light. When using the white foam board as a light reflecting tool, you can manipulate it to do pretty much anything you want.
So place the ladders on each end of the set. Use the pole to rest between them on the tallest rung. Clamp your sheets to the pole and lay one on the ground if you want a solid backdrop. Your set should be in the prime lighting location if you are doing them outdoors, so basically you don’t want to have your subject facing the sun or you will get squinting or watering of the eyes. Use the foam board to reflect and manipulate the light in your favor. If you are in a dark area, making your own soft boxes will give you some great results, many use a flood lamp that can be moved around or even use a flashlight behind your props for some backlighting.
You can also try substituting a silver car shade for the white foam board, but they will produce a much harsher light and may cause shadows. The white board makes the light softer and more diffused. The best way to get great at this is to practice. You should be able to take amazing photos with hardly any Photoshop time.
So, it is easy to say that you don’t have to have a dedicated space in your home to use a studio set up. You may need an assistant until you figure out your own way of doing things. But this is a great alternative to spending a fortune that you may not have on equipment that works in the same way. Play around with it and create photos that people will want to hang on their wall or use for customized wallpaper as a mural. No one will know you haven’t been doing this forever!
For me, this is a set up that works and is portable if I need it to be. Feel free to make your own modifications, but just don’t be afraid of studio photography. It does get really hard to do pictures in the middle of winter when your client wants family portraits and there is a foot of snow outside. Get away from being a seasonal photographer and be ready to shoot anytime on any day!
Chris Garrett is a large format printing expert and freelance writer for the custom printed wallpaper expert Megaprint.com. He frequently blogs on the topics of design and printing.