Building a studio in your home is the dream for many photographers. Assuming you can convince the rest of your family it’s a good idea, it can even become a reality. For those just getting into studio photography, building a home studio may be an afterthought to a home you already own. You may be very limited on space, so how can you make the most of it?
In this video, photographer Joe Edelman walks us through his home studio. While many of us might not be able to dedicate the space that Joe has, there’s always ways to make things feel bigger than they are. Joe shows us some of his space saving tips, as well as props and tools which serve multiple functions. No matter how large or small your studio, there are always ways to optimise your space and workflow.
It’s not a short quick tip video. It goes on for about fourteen and a half minutes, but it’s well worth watching through it all.
- 0:38 – Planning and preparing. Figuring out your needs.
- 1:43 – The makeup area
- 2:11 – Storage space and changing room
- 4:50 – Main shooting area
- 6:27 – Wall mounted lights
- 7:05 – Background storage
- 8:12 – Track system for hanging lights, reflectors and diffusers
- 11:52 – The Box
The first step is coming up with some kind of a plan. It’s a lot easier to figure out where everything’s going to go if you don’t try to just wing it. Knowing how much space you need for your shooting area and how much total space you have lets you arrange everything else much more easily.
The key areas Joe requires are for shooting, makeup, storage with a small changing room. And when he says small, he isn’t kidding. A few years ago I was working at a studio that had over 3,000 square feet of floor space, and a dressing room the size of a closet. I always wondered why it was so small, but listening to Joe’s explanation of why his is the size it is makes a whole lot of sense.
All of us want to look our best before we go in front of the camera. But, there’s no point wasting time in the changing room in front of a mirror straightening our clothes and fixing our hair if we’re going to go right into the MUA or hair stylist’s chair for the next half an hour. It’ll all have to be fixed again afterwards anyway. So, the changing room is small, and sparse, with no mirrors to speed up outfit changes.
Joe’s makeup area is a little larger than most I’ve seen. Even in a lot of commercial studios I’ve hired, the makeup area has basically been a table off to the side of the main shooting area. But, Joe’s makeup area serves a dual purpose, and also serves as an extension of the main shooting area.
Speaking of the shooting area, Joe’s is 23x12ft (7×3.6m) with a ceiling height a hair below 8ft (2.4m). It’s not a huge shooting area, and the ceilings are relatively low, but it’s still a very respectable space. You’ll see in the spin around the studio below, that mane of the lights are affixed to the ceiling and walls to help eliminate the need for light stands.
Getting rid of light stands and boom arms gives you a lot more flexibility in a permanent shooting area. It also means they’re not taking up valuable floor space or getting in the way.
Joe also fixed a sliding track where the shooting and makeup areas meet. From this, Joe can suspend lights, diffusers and reflectors for all kinds of different lighting scenarios. It can provide big soft window light, or it can be used to suspend frontal lights, shooting from within the makeup area.
There are plenty of great tips throughout the video, and you may want to watch some parts of it several times to see exactly how everything fits together to maximise the available space. The Box is an especially good idea. I have several units myself that each serve multiple purposes.
Have you built your own studio in your home? What other space saving tips do you have? Will you be implementing some of Joe’s ideas into your home studio? Let us know in the comments.