Monday, January 17, 2011

Studio on a budget

Today I thought I would tackle what it is like to start your own studio when you are on a tight budget and how it can be done without breaking the bank.  I started setting up my studio space while I was still in college, starting out with a roll of light grey paper backdrop.  I did not have the funds to invest in an expensive track system that would allow my to easily lower and raise the paper, so I had to think outside the box.  My husband suggested that we use PVC pipe and some hooks.  This works wonderfully, with the only disadvantage being that I have to climb on a chair or stool to lower and raise the paper. Here is a picture to show you how the PVC pipe is mounted into the ceiling.  A paper roll is straight and it is anchored into the ceiling in one of the corners of the room.
As you can see, two other hooks are mounted next to the set-up for the roll of back drop paper.  Those two hooks hold PVC pipe as well, this time to hold two sets of pipes, bent to create a 1/4 round set-up with material hung from it.  I found that the paper was too narrow for some shoots and I wanted to utilize my corners more as my studio room is relatively small.  I did not, however, want corners to show, so I came up with the idea of the 1/4 round backdrop.  In the next shot you will see how the material is hung from the pipes, creating a tract system.  I have two sets of pipe so I can use different colors depending on the shoot and I can move the fabric back and forth as needed.  This set-up cost about $50.  I found the fabric on the clearance rack at a local fabric store.
I own two sets of floodlight kits as you will see in the next shot, only one is shown.  I have umbrellas and reflectors for them.  I prefer the constant light as I can control it nicely and have not invested in the more expensive monolight sets yet.  These kits are about $60-$75 dollars at B&H Photo and Adorama.
A couple of stools purchased at Walmart and Target and an old chair, child rocker and chest complete the props I have in my studio to date.  I use house hold items as well, depending on what the shoot calls for.  It does not take expensive props to make a successful image.
Even though I have since purchased portable backdrops and a backdrop stand that I take on location shoots, I still use the initial set-up in my home studio whenever it fits the desires of my clients.  
Just remember that a studio can be started and maintained on a small budget, without spending hundreds of dollars on specific "photo props".  I found the chest at a local second hand shop.  the rocker belonged to my children and I pulled it out of the attic.  Many props can be made for less than buying them and many times you can find props and furniture for less at a regular store than when they are labeled "photo".  Do what you can with your budget.  The quality of your photographs is what counts in the client's eye, not where you purchased your equipment.  The only place you can not cut corners is your camera!  I hope this is helpful:)  Happy Shooting.

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