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Photo Contest Insider Blog

6 Tips for Setting Up a Photography Studio

November 6, 2018

Are your ready to take your photography skills to the next level? Having your own photography studio can be a huge step forward. That’s true whether you focus on portrait photography, commercial photography, product photography, other photography services or trying to take the perfect photo for an upcoming photo contest.


6 Tips for Setting Up a Photography Studio


  1. Choose Your Studio Space
  2. Select Lighting
  3. Buy or Build Your Backdrops
  4. Add Some Props
  5. Include a Workspace for You
  6. Set Up a Waiting Area

If you have limited experience with taking photographs in a studio, you may want to look for an online photography course. You can find a basic studio photography course or learn about specific topics, like studio lighting in photography. Gaining knowledge is a smart step before investing in equipment for your photography studio.



How to Set Up Your Own Photography Studio


Always set a budget before buying supplies for your studio space. That way you can ensure you get everything you need without overspending in any single area. You’ll want to plan your photography studio equipment costs—for lighting, backdrops, and props. If possible, budget for a workspace where you can edit and print photos for clients. A waiting area for clients is an excellent addition to any photography studio. If this seems like a lot to take on at first, start small and evolve your studio over time.


Choose Your Studio Space


The first step in creating a studio is deciding on its location. Are you going to build a home photography studio or pursue a photography rental? What types of studios do other photographers in your area have? A search on “photography studios near me” can give you essential insights into your local market.

A DIY home photography studio can be the least expensive approach. You can clear out a large room, use your garage, or turn an outbuilding into a photography studio shed. If you have a good-quality camera, you can start a very basic home studio for $800 to $1,000. The downside of a home studio is space. You can quickly run out of space as your photography business grows.

Looking for a rental studio? Start your quest by searching for “photography studio for rent” in your desired locale. Remember that if you opt for a rental studio, you’ll gain space—but also be responsible for a monthly lease. You’ll need to make sure that you earn enough income to pay for your lease payments. Think about your busy and slow periods. Make sure to save enough money during your peak seasons to cover months when your business slows.

You can rent an empty space and create a DIY photography studio. Alternatively, you can look for a furnished space that includes all the professional equipment you might need. The latter can be a good way to advance your skills and learn new techniques to take high-quality photos. All you’ll need to bring is your camera.

Another option to consider is a portable studio. This can be a good choice for a photography session outdoors with clients.


Select Lighting 


Once you’ve decided on your location, you can start to consider your photography studio setup. Lighting is one of the most important features of any photography studio.

When considering lighting for professional photography, expect to spend a minimum of $200 to $800 for your photography studio. If you’re handy, you can build DIY photography studio lighting for under $100 for home use.

When selecting your lighting, always keep in mind the types of images you take. Learn basic facts about different types of photography lighting to make the right choices.

For many beginners, continuous light can be a good option—and very cost effective. Often used by product photographers, these lights help you see how the light will appear in your image. You can select from fluorescent, tungsten, and LED continuous lights—and all three deliver solid results. Many professional photographers opt for fluorescent lights since they are easy to find and don’t overheat.

Speedlights are another common type of photography studio lighting. They are external flash units that operate much faster than typical camera flashes. You can use umbrellas and flashes with speedlights to disperse light. Since many speedlights are portable and lightweight, you can use them in your studio and for off-site shoots. They are a versatile lighting option that can be a worthwhile investment.

Another type of lighting to consider is a monolight. These are strobe lights that come with built-in stands, power sources, and reflectors. Since these lights are all-inclusive, they can be an easy option for photographers. Although they are usually used in studios, some monolights include a case, which makes them portable and very versatile.

With a little searching, you can find kits for every style of lighting. You can also find entry-level setups which maximize window light or choose to invest in more advanced photography studio lighting kit options. Be sure to keep your budget and long-term goals in mind when choosing a lighting kit for your photography studio.

Buy or Build Your Backdrops


Photography backdrops help set the mood for your images. Over time, you may want to have an array of backdrops for your photography studio.

When getting started, a simple white background can be a good first photography studio backdrop. If you don’t want to invest in a variety of white backdrops right away, start with a white muslin backdrop. You can often find these for around $20. And you can take photos in front of this plain white background and customize them later with a photo-editing tool like Photoshop or Lightroom.

If you want to purchase more backdrops, you should familiarize yourself with material choices. Those include paper, vinyl, and various fabrics such as muslin, canvas, and velvet.

You can also purchase chroma key backgrounds, which are similar to the green screens used in filmmaking. With chroma key backgrounds, you can add scenes or details during post-processing. If you have a portable studio, collapsible disc backgrounds can be very useful. These backdrops fold into small discs for easy transport.

Building your own backdrops can be a great way to save money on your initial photography studio setup. All you need at first is a curtain rod mounted on the ceiling or high on your wall. Then you can drape curtains or fabrics over it to create backdrops.

Don’t forget about your flooring—especially if you take full-length portrait photos. You may have good quality flooring to start, but you might want to change up the look for different types of photographs. Some of your backdrops may be able to double as floor covers as well.

Add Some Props


When you are just starting out and have limited equipment, your photos can often look very similar. You can avoid this common issue by having a variety of photo props available. You don’t need years of experience before taking amazing photos.

A search will reveal several photographic websites that sell photography props online. These vendors offer an easy way to build a prop portfolio—but your costs can add up quickly.

Instead of spending a lot of money on props, start by looking around your own house for items you can use. Has your child outgrown a teddy bear? Are there unused photo frames you could repaint and use as props? A little imagination can yield some great ideas—with zero dollars spent.

If you want some specialized props, think DIY. Visit a craft store for props you can customize with ease. You can find balloons, ribbons, banners, baskets, and even small furniture. With some creative thinking and a little work, you can create unique props that lead to high-quality pictures and special moments for happy clients.

If you specialize in family or portrait photography, you should have holiday and seasonal props. Items like pumpkins, Christmas trees, Easter baskets, hearts, and flags can add a celebratory touch to any photo shoot.

Include a Workspace for You


Setting up a workspace in a corner of your photography studio can streamline your photography business. And you don’t need a lot of items to create a workspace. You should have a desk with a computer and large monitor. A printer is another must-have.

These simple pieces of equipment will allow you to move from shooting photos to post-production with ease. You may even be able to edit and print photos before your clients even leave your photography studio. Since many professional photographers can take days or weeks to produce photos, this approach is sure to delight your clients.

If you have a good quality printer, you can also use it to make prints for other photographers in your network. This is a good way to make additional income without more investment. And it helps you build relationships with other photographers too.

Between shoots, you can use your workspace area to manage your business. You can stay on track with photography studio management software that lets you manage appointments and keep on top of income and investments. And you can build an SEO-friendly photography website to attract new clients in this corner of your studio.

Set Up a Waiting Area


Having a waiting area isn’t essential—but it can set your photography studio apart from your competitors. Imagine having a comfortable and welcoming area for your customers to relax when they arrive. You can achieve this goal with a few items that are easy to acquire.

The right seating is important for your photography studio waiting area. Include a couch or a few comfortable chairs. A side table with magazines is also a nice touch. If you specialize in family photography and work with children, a kid-sized play table with some coloring pages and crayons can keep them occupied. Child photography can be a lucrative business, as parents love to preserve these memories.

You can use this area to meet with clients to discuss their wishes before their shoot. After a shoot concludes, it provides a comfortable place for clients to wait for their prints. Remember to include enough seating for yourself, since you’ll be frequently interacting with clients in this space.

You Can Create the Perfect Photography Studio


If setting up a studio seems overwhelming, having a plan can help break it down into manageable steps. Start by defining the goals of your photography practice or business. Decide what types of photography you want to pursue and then set a budget for your initial photography studio setup.

At a minimum, you need a location for your studio, along with lighting and backdrops. Props are also a welcome addition to any photography studio since they can add a unique vibe to every client’s images. Include a workspace in your studio so you can transition from shooting to post-production with no downtime. You can even self-publish a book of your photos right from your studio workspace. Having a waiting area can make your clients feel comfortable before their shoot or while you edit and print their photos.

Wherever you are in your photography journey, there is a photography studio option that is right for you. You may even be able to find the perfect photography studio kit that helps you get started. Many professional photographers opt for home-based studios at first. These are budget-friendly choices for anyone who is ramping up their business. In time, expanding into a rented studio can be great for a photographer with an established reputation and steady income. Portable studios are available for those who take photos outdoors or on-the-go.

Whichever path you choose, don’t hold back on taking this important step for your photography career. A photography studio can help you develop your skills and your own style, which can lead to a profitable influx of loy

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