How to set up your own stock photography studio
Surely this is any wannabe photographers dream but at what cost?
- How much space do you need?
- What equipment do you need?
- How much will it all cost?
It all depends on what you intend to shoot but for most people you can set up a temporary, home based studio on a low budget and relatively little floor space.
I have never owned a full on, permanent studio, I have worked in a few but never had my own. Don’t feel pressured into owning a studio because a “studio” doesn’t always mean a large area of permanently devoted space with numerous lighting rigs, backdrops and models.
When I first started shooting stock, I used our living room when the family was out with just a flash gun or two, a white sheet and a camera…nothing else, (for isolated product shots of course).
Now, I use our double garage, two studio strobes, two 800 watt continuous lights, various backdrops and stands as well various props and even that lot didn’t cost the earth. In fact, I recon I could have covered the entire cost of the studio equipment from 6 to 8 sales at Alamy or one month’s sales at all the micro sites.
So, what could you start with and what will it cost?
Well, you could do what I did and just use your speedlights and a white sheet (coupled with a bit of experience and knowledge of bouncing flash) to shoot isolated images or you could start as you mean to go on and grab some second hand studio lights.
A basic set of two lights, stands and soft boxes or brollies is all that is needed to start, with maybe 500 Watts each. More powerful lights are only needed if you intend to use wide open spaces for large house interiors or huge studios.
The lights don’t have to be confined to the studio either, think about getting a set that run from portable batteries so you can take them on location.
On the other hand, why not go for the more professional, natural look and use the space around you? Any area of your home, garden or surrounding countryside could be a studio…it is free and in absolute abundance!
Who needs a studio to limit their work?
Here are some places where you can get studio style stock images for next to nothing using just a camera and maybe a reflector and some models or everyday objects.
Note: If you are shooting natural light indoors, you will need a sturdy tripod as the shutter speeds may get a bit slow for still life shots.
- The Kitchen – Set up some food shots or family style images around the kitchen table at meal time
- The Cooker – Food again, an almost endless supply of ideas
- The Shower – Get daring and do some shower scenes but keep it clean (excuse the pun)
- Your Office – For those “oh so popular” business images
- Your Car – Shoot safety images, danger images, lifestyle images, traffic images…
- Your Garden – Going green images, self sufficiency grow your own food images, playing images
- The beach, the park, the town centre, local areas of beauty and interest, a car park, the local skate park, ponds, rivers, lakes, woodlands, forests, castles, cafes, restaurants…
None of these require any sort of studio equipment or financial outlay…the world is your playground so go out and play! Maybe use some families you know as we discussed earlier to use as models in exchange for portfolios and prints.
You see, for most images, you need a natural looking background to enhance the shot. Studio lighting and backdrops are great for fashion images, product shots, portraits, isolated images and so on but the natural world has the biggest and best backdrop of all.
Before you go splashing out on tons of equipment, think long and hard about what it is you prefer shooting and what you may shoot in the future. Make your own list of possible places to go and use this list as a reference point for whenever you get an idea.
After a while you will have locations springing to mind with every idea you get.
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