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If you’re making the transition from photography enthusiast to professional, you’ve probably thought about setting up your own home studio. Before you make the leap and open your home to clients, be sure you have a set-up that will deliver professional results.

1. Choose a Dedicated Space

The best home studio is a dedicated space that has room for all your gear, props, etc. After all, you don’t want your family mingling in your professional equipment and you don’t want to have to move it on a consistent basis. Most importantly, you don’t want you clients to feel as if they’ve just walked into your personal home space.

savage red brick floor dropPhoto courtesy of Ryan Walsh, Featuring Red Brick Floor Drop & Worn Planks Floor Drop

2. Close Off the Rest of the House

You want your focus to be on your client and the shoot at hand. Find a curtain that can be pulled shut or a privacy screen to block out any noise from a TV in another room or children running about. Get creative! You may think it’s difficult but carefully assess your space and in the end the hard work will pay off.

3. Make Sure You Have Enough Space

You’ll want a big enough space to be able to zoom in on your subject without risking distortion of your image. This applies mostly to studio portraiture where a wide angle lens will flatten facial features. Ideally you’ll want a good 20 feet in depth but 15 feet will work.

4. Consider Ceiling Height

Your ceiling acts as a giant reflector. If you have a low ceiling, light will bounce off it. Do some test shots to see what effects you’ll get in the space you’ve chosen. Another caveat is the lack of height to add a kick light or hair highlight which is essential to separate your subject from the background. The rule of thumb is to have at least 3 feet between your subject and the hair highlight to get the optimum effect.

5. Use a Seamless Backdrop


Seamless paper backdrops are the ultimate choice for a home-based studio. They provide a clean and simple look, and better yet make your subject the center of attention. There’s also a tremendous variety in choice of color. Your only limitation is the space you have to store them! Seamless backdrops also allow you more control over you photo art direction.

savage studio blue seamless paperPhoto courtesy of Ryan Walsh, Featuring Studio Blue Seamless Paper

Color Choices

If you’re doing a lot of infant and children’s portraits choose colors such as Tulip or Baby Blue. For product photography, have some basics like Pure White and Black and a few warm (TV Gray) and cool tone grays (Fashion Gray). Search online photo collective sites like Flickr to see how different colors work with various setups.

Wall Mounts

You can hang multiple backdrops, about 2 or 3, with a wall mount. If you don’t own your space, you’ll want to choose a portable backdrop stand such as Savage’s Multiple Polevault Stand that you can fold up and store away and holds three rolls of 107” background paper.

Creating a Room Effect 

It’s very easy to create a faux room with a roll of seamless paper, a piece of molding from your local Home Depot and some lightweight and inexpensive laminate wood flooring. Simply clamp the molding to the bottom of the paper backdrop. Better yet, to create a more permanent solution, add shelf brackets to the back of the molding so that it can stand on its own.

savage whitewash floordropPhoto courtesy of Pink Door Photography, Featuring Whitewash Floor Drop

Limited Budget Solutions

If you’re on a budget, choose neutrals and add gels to your lights to get colored effects. Or, use a photo editing software in post-production such as Photoshop to change the color of the background.

6. Choosing a Lighting Set-up

Natural Light

Ideally, your in home studio space will have the option for natural lighting. You can filter the light with sheer curtains or vellum or use foamcore to bounce the light streaming from the window back to your subject.

Constant Light

An inexpensive basic kit such as Savage’s LED Portrait Kit contains two lights that comprise 176 chip on board LEDs, which together produce the equivalent of 600W incandescent light while only utilizing 70W of electricity. Two included 20” softboxes pop open for quick and easy setup to create soft, even lighting for high-quality portraiture.

Ryan Walsh

Ryan holds a Bachelors in Marketing from Grand Canyon University, graduating on the dean's list. He has been providing professional photography services starting in 2003 and internet marketing services starting in 2007. His experience in specific industries provides him with unique insight for practical application of photography as it applies to modern advertising mediums and business needs. Check out his website and follow Ryan on social media!

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