Friday, December 25, 2015

My Home Studio

This Christmas, I challenged myself to shoot all Christmas portraits in my studio.
I much prefer to shoot with natural light indoors or outside,
but I am grateful to have a studio space right in my basement
for when it's too cold outside for children.
My studio is a hodge-podge of lights and props I have collected.
We are fortunate to have ten foot ceilings in our basement.
We painted the brick-textured walls white, but I wanted a smooth
white background.   I tacked white photographic paper from the rafter above.
You can purchase a roll of this paper online.  I've seen it on Amazon.
A photographer in our town was retiring, so I bought ALL his lights.
They are older...but I use those blue lights for backlighting.
I do not like strobe lights!  I need to see exactly where the light
is falling and for me, the FLASH startles children and adults.
I bought the wonderful soft box lights from my photo pal Lucy
and LOVE them!  I can lower or raise the intensity.
They also have a built-in fan to keep them cool as continuous lights get hot fast!
You can find used lighting equipment on Ebay and it's worth considering if you are on a budget.
That white carpet used to be in our dining room before we remodeled with wood floors,
so you can see my studio is very make-shift.
Here are a few behind-the-scene shots snapped by my niece
as I photographed her beautiful daughter Fiona in the studio.
I pay close attention to all the details like getting that hat on just right.
I always wear WHITE when I shoot portraits
because whatever color I wear, reflects in the subjects eyes!
See the woman standing behind me? That's Fiona's grandma
(My husband's sister.)  You can see where Fi gets her lovely curls!
Next to the studio is my stash of thrift store finds! 
I have lots of tutus, and basic fluffy clothes that I use over and over.
Many times I will go to the thrift store and buy clothing
for a specific shoot.  I then return it to the thrift store.  I am
constantly weeding out!
Here's the same area from the other direction.
I keep my studio extremely organized.
I need to be able to find specific clothing and props immediately!
After a shoot, I always return props and clothing to their place
before I edit.
Behind my row of clothing, I stash my props like baskets,
containers for babies, little beds...etc.
I get bored with my props and return them to the thrift store
where I find new props!
Here is my beloved collection of cake stands that I made myself
and fake cakes that I use for birthday shoots.
In the boxes, are various ceramic pieces I bought for pennies and use for my still-lifes.
Once I'm bored with them, I return them to the thrift store.
You can also see my hat collection.
So you can see, you don't have to spend a ton of money
on studio space.  If you have an extra room in your house or basement space,
you can set up a little studio very cheaply.
Just paint the walls white.
That way you can add your own backgrounds in editing.
Plus white walls and ceilings bounce a ton of light!
I never use those awful cloth hanging backgrounds from the 80s.
You don't need all my props and clothing...
I just like to style my portraits.
Hope this helps you to create a make-shift studio!


  1. Jill, thank you for the tour! I love your studio. And what a great tip, to buy from thrift stores and return when you are done, if needed. I envy your organization AND photography talent!!!

  2. Thank you Jill! I was looking forward to this tutorial. I've struggled with lighting when I do indoor photos. Love all the photo props and how organized you are!!

  3. Jill, thank you so much for sharing your awesome studio set up and props, you are a great photographer, cheers!

  4. Thanks so much, Karen, Daniela and Rita!!