How to create a photo studio on a budget (part 2/3)

Taking consistent pictures comes with certain restrictions and things you have to take into account if you don’t want to spend hours on editing them afterwards. I share how I set up my home studio for my webshop on a budget.

Please note that I am not a professional photographer. I did graduate in photography but this is not my main source of income. These are just my tips I'm sharing with you to help you set up your own webshop.


Step One: Define your setting

Look for a dedicated place to take pictures. Preferably somewhere you either

  1. Have decent daylight
  2. Can easily access artificial light
  3. Have enough room to add more lightning if needed

I would recommend doing this somewhere where you can also provide a place for your products. You don’t want to move your entire collection every time you need to do a photo shoot.


I, for example, chose my garage.

Step Two: Define your budget

How much do you want to spend on a background? Lightning? A camera? …

Photography equipment can be very expensive. I do recommend investing in materials that last years, but we don’t want to break the bank since we are still setting up our business.


Step Three: Get your equipment


Camera

Use a camera you are comfortable with. SLR camera’s can be heavy to carry around. They are also complex to learn if you’re just starting out in photography. 

If you want to purchase a camera, I would recommend looking at a Mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera. They work in a similar way as a SLR camera, but they are smaller and less heavy to carry around. I use a Sony Alpha 5000.

Tip: Install the app of your digital camera. These often provide you with a remote shutter so you can take pictures of yourself using your phone.


Don’t want to splurge on a new camera? Just use your phone! The camera on your smartphone will do in most cases. I do recommend you getting a remote bluetooth shutter.


Lighting

There is a lot to learn about lighting. Especially when you are working in a studio.

Most of the time, 2 lights are enough if you just want to take clear pictures of your inventory. Play around with the placement of the lights until you get the desires result for your style and branding.


I recommend using a daylight, diffused light. (5500K). I purchased the Bresser Set and I’m really happy with them. They are easy to set up and provide me with enough light in an otherwise dark garage.

Background

Studio backgrounds can be expensive. However, this has a reason. You want the light to hit the background the right way. Using different surfaces as a background can cause the background to reflect lighting or show undesired textures.


However, I thought I’d be adventurous and try something else anyway. I used paper tablecloths in black and white to avoid this cost. The white works perfectly, the black not so much.


You also have to make sure that the background is wide enough so it covers the entire frame.


If you have the budget, spend it on a decent background in the color of your branding. A white background is always a good idea if you want to cut out products or models in the editing process afterwards.


Camera Stand

You can not live without a camera stand. Period. They are crucial if you want to take pictures of yourself, create stop motion videos, be consistent in composition,...

Money spent on a good camera stand will not be lost! Make sure that it’s high quality with a decent height. You don’t want to end up with a stand you have to place on top of a chair to get the desired composition (been there, done that!)

If you're using your phone you can often get a pack of a stand, ringlight and a remote shutter for pretty cheap. (Thanks Tiktok!)

I use the Cullman Alpha stand


Step Four: Trial and error

Now that you’re all set up, try out some settings, camera placements and looks. 

Some terms you should know and keep in mind:


  • White Balance: Make sure the white balance in your camera matches the temperature of your lights. 
  • Aperture: This is the opening of your lens. The bigger the number, the smaller the opening. So if you have an aperture of 16, the picture will be darker than with an aperture of 4. If your aperture is high (less light), the focus of your picture will be wider than when your aperture is low. Click here to learn more about aperture.

  • Shutter speed: The faster your picture is taken, the sharper it will be. You have to find the right balance between shutter speed and aperture to get really crisp pictures.

Step Five: My final tips

  • Don’t splurge on things you can’t afford right now. You can also do a lot with a white wall, your phone and a free editing program like Lightroom mobile.
  • Set up your studio and play! Don’t forget to have fun while taking pictures. Play around with different lighting and compositions.
  • Take your time. You are dealing with technology combined with a hardware setup. Your remote shutter might not work 100% of the time, you might trip over some wires. Try to keep breathing and relax!

 

The Final Bill

 Lights €69
Backgrounds (Tablecloths) €30
Bluetooth Shutter + Ring Light €24,95
Camera Stand €32,29
Total €156,24

In the next part of these series, I’ll share my after editing secrets! 

 

Author: Britt Van Damme for House of Bones - 2021

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