Having a photography studio is fun, but it is even more fun when you start applying simple and cheap solutions, plus common sense to make your shooting experience (and your clients’) smoother.
This is the list of what I think are the smartest and most useful photography studio life hacks.
1 Transparent rubber hairband to tidy up cables & color gels
These little guys are a life saver for those who enjoy having a tidy studio (me included). Apart from having hundreds of these in the make up station, they have become a daily resource when tidying up gel rolls and cables.
2 Wine box as a substitute for apple box
If I had to choose between an apple box and a wine box… I’ll take the wine !
Apple boxes are enormously useful in a studio, you can use them to sit your subject down, make someone taller, or level-up a C-stand among others, but this precious boxes are expensive. The solution? What about asking that friend-who-works-in-a-restaurant (we all have one) to get you one of those spare wooden wine boxes that otherwise his manager is going to throw away, right ? (Shoutout to my friend Mattia Laurenti)
After a bit of painting it has become a staple on my headshot work, as I use it for the clients to step on them a lean forward in order to engage with the camera.
This solution is not as versatile nor sturdy as an apple box but hey! it’s free !
3 Ikea pegboard to complete your workbench
A photo studio wouldn’t be complete without having a space to put all your gear, adapters, connectors, screws, tapes etc. Ikea has this pegboard solution that works wonders for the studio, a bag to roll the gels in, hooks for the gaffer tape, compartiments for screws etc. really handy !.
Downside is that, if you overload it, it will start bending forward and the little drawer compartiments will slide off causing a lot of trouble.
4 Shelf rails and wood as polyboard stand
This one is a bit of a DIY but fun to make and tremendously useful. Other similar solutions are bike stands. This one in particular is perfect to hold a 2 inch polyboard with a tyre width of 53mm. Ideal your polyboards and for less than £25. Silver Bike Stand
5 Metal clips and magnets to attach color gels to dishes and modifiers [via Jake Hicks]
This is by far the most useful studio life hack of all. As studio photographers, we have all been there trying to stick gaffer tape into a dish or modifier. The results more than often are not what I would call “neat”
The master of gel lighting Jake Hicks comes to the rescue (once again) and gives us this splendid tip.
For an in-depth post on this tip please visit his original article: Stop Using Tape to Attach Your Gels – Use Magnets Instead
6 Shoe Rack For Seamless Storage [Via SLR Lounge]
As someone who shoots a considerable amount of in-studio portrait sessions, I have obtained a number of rolls of seamless paper through the years. This rolls take up a lot of space and becomes unorganised quickly. What started as an organised system for 2-3 rolls, suddenly turned into a big pile of rolls of paper leaning up against a wall.
The idea is that you want to keep your seamless paper sitting upright, to prevent warping and color inconsistencies over time. In order to keep the seamless vertical and tidy, Zack Sutton from SLR had a great solution by using a small shoe rack. Using the metal frame of a shoe rack, seamless rolls seem to fit perfectly into the system, allowing you a space-saving option that can be had for around £20 or less.
7 Elastic ropes and clips to hang softboxes and modifiers
Another great studio life hack to keep your softboxes out of the way is to attach elastic ropes with clips on both ends, this way you can leave the softboxes hanging from the ceiling instead of being around in the studio.
8 Door Stopper to lock the backdrop roll
As a photographer, there is no most annoying thing like a backdrop that doesn’t stay in place. While using these multi background solution that attaches the paper roll to an aluminium cylinder.
I tried so many things, from pieces of cardboard to small pins but door stoppers have become the studio life hack final solution. They look great when they are in place and they are easy to stick in between background roll and cylinder. Problem solved!
9 Silver Reflector as Backdrop for headshots & portraits
Studio reflectors are a must have in every photography studio for obvious reasons. I have plenty of them on different sizes and shapes, depending whether I’m shooting headshots, commercial or something else. Also, depending on the skin tones of the subject and quality of bounce you’d like to achieve, you might use silver, golden, white or black side. (I’ll tackle that in another article).
But what about using them as backdrops of your scene? As they catch and bounce the light with its slightly irregular textured surface they are perfect for this modern outdoors-hallway-studio effect. Its corrugated surface will give you a nice texture with some reflections of the strobes in it.
Sometimess even your subject will cast some lights and shadows within the reflector if you place him/her close enough.
10 Neon Tubes and PVC Corrugated Roofing Sheet as backdrop
This was an idea I had for a long time as a DIY project that I got from strolling down Regent Street and checking the shop. I think it was Top Man store front and I decided to build a small replica myself – I will post a step by step of the process soon.
Using this corrugated PVC roofing sheet you can get from any DIY shop (I got mine from Wickes) and attaching a series of neon fluorescent tubes to it. It makes the perfect neon sci-fi background for your portraits or headshots.
And this concludes my list of 10 Photography Studio Life Hacks. Some of the solutions are very cheap and straight forward and others require a bit of “do it yourself” But I hope you found these tips useful.
Do you have any other studio life hacks that you use yourself to add to the list? Please share in the comments section below.
About the Author
Roberto Vivancos is a London-based, internationally published photographer and actor, specializing in headshot and commercial photography. Both in his studio and on location worldwide, his clients range from models, actors, singers, bands, and dancers. You can see more of Roberto’s work on his website and connect with him via Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. This article was also published here and shared with permission.
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