Over the years my home studio space evolved. First it was the living room in a condo, and then it was in my home’s unfinished basement (next to the furnace) until today’s dedicated but small studio.
If you decide to use a spare room, as I have, you will find 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 the basement, where my home studio is located, was flooded I painted the studio walls Sherwin Williams Lazy Grey—similar to 18% grey—as part of my plan to minimize unwanted reflected light.
If you have a backdrop, you’re going to need a background stand. Using a dedicated stand offers the most versatility but if you’re handy with tools Google “build a photo background stand” and you will find a number of DIY solutions. Many of these solution use PVC pipe and construction techniques that only require a saw and some glue.
Next to lightstands, another thing your home studio 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 from all the usual suspects but I get mine from Home Depot and Lowes and they cost less than a buck, small ones are even less. 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’re interested in shooting portraits and how I use cameras, lenses and lighting, in my in-home studio, please pick up a copy of “Studio Lighting Anywhere” which is available from your favorite book or camera stores as well as Amazon.com, where your purchase helps this blog.