If I had a dollar every time I’ve heard this…

Can you really set up a home studio and shoot paid work?

YES, yes you can!  Setting up a home studio will bring out the creativity in you.  The most important skill that any photographer can have is the ability to adapt.  We often times have to adapt with weird lighting, with subjects that aren’t necessarily comfortable in front of the camera, with equipment that fails, etc. etc.  Well, creating a home studio definitely requires some adaptation.

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a huge, 2 car garage with high ceilings where you can setup a home studio.  If you have an empty white wall in your home, you can absolutely use that.  In fact, here’s a video of Zack Arias showing how you can use a plain white wall and some speed lights.

I’m lucky enough to have both a garage and a den that I am able to use.  I use the garage for controlled lighting, and the den for available light.

Lets take a look at my garage setup:


As you can see in the photo above, I am using white seamless with some simple Cowboy Studio stands.  In order to better control the light, I block off the windows in the garage.  In addition to that, I recently hung black felt from the ceiling to the floor on either side of the seamless.  This keeps the light spill to a complete minimum, and give me 100% control of lighting.

*Pro tip= go to Joanne’s fabric and buy the felt you need.  It was super cheap, AND they have some cool patters you could use for portrait backgrounds.

Here are a few photos taken the other day that show the versatility of this exact setup:


This is a portrait of Linda that she needed for her LinkedIn profile.
Main light: AlienBees B1600 in a Westcott 28″ soft box
Rim light: Canon580EXII with a Honl grid


After we got what we needed in her standard portrait session, we decided to have a little more fun and experiment. On this one, I turned off the rim light and repositioned the soft box. Almost looks like an American Apparel image.


I had Linda take a few steps forward, and I gridded the soft box so light didn’t spill on the white seamless.


We were able to do some full length portraits using the white seamless in my home studio.

What equipment do you need for a home studio?  Here’s a short list:

  • White seamless paper and stands
  • some sort of black cloth/felt/bed sheets to block and control the light spill
  • Strobes or hot shoe flash(es)
  • Light stands
  • Modifiers (umbrella, soft box, beauty dish, etc.)
  • Reflector
  • gaffers tape

Bottom line, make do with what you have.  The great thing about photography is that you can cheat things with creativity..

If you are a photographer, I’d love to see your home studio.  Share with me.