Designing a Home Photography Studio

Designing a home photography and recording studio on a budget is a great way to learn more about photography, allows you to build content for youtube, blog, pinterest or your website and do so on a budget. Over the years I have taken the time to design a small, packable studio to meet the needs I have for building content for both my blog, youtube and for my photography classes I teach. The benefits of building a studio on a budget allows you to have more funds to gather the content and to focus more on the quality of your camera equipment.

When I teach classes, I teach several sessions on portrait photography and the use of green screens. Because I like portability and I like the idea that if something happens to a piece of equipment, it is easily replaceable without breaking the bank and I can achieve the very similiar results as an expensive studio setup, especially when the “studio” concept in today’s social world has an ebb about it. We do live in a world that is on the move. Most of our content is in the field and as technologies advance, not only does our equipment do more with the swipe of a hand, the technology also allows us to do most of what use to be done in a studio, now in the field. But there are some fun elements to having a low-cost studio setup. Especially one that can be packed up and stored in your closet when not in use. So if I am going to teach and be in the field to gather content, I want portability to use equipment as needed and the flexibility to setup a quick DIY home studio. Since I have to travel to classes I teach or if I am on assignment, and I need to be in the field, I have an inexpensive but very capable accessory equipment to enhance my photography equipment.

When your teaching a photography class the following equipment is great to have to show for examples and to instruct on studio setup. I find Cowboy Studio and Neewer to be great options for this kind of equipment. The following links will introduce you to the equipment I use and have been very pleased with over the years. This section will give you a basic setup from backdrops to portable reflectors, backdrops and green screens. Your base equipment, which is all portable is around $350.00 if you gather all the listings. The reflectors and green screens also add a great element when shooting speed photography such as capturing water droplets.

This setup is based on the idea you already have your photography gear. In a coming article I will discuss the use of Olympus, Canon and Sony products from mirrorless, full frame to crop sensor and how these cameras different in their capabilities and functions for different styles of photography.

I also like to set up my studio to be a recording studio as well. It is very important to capture a good quality audio and if you are familiar with Final Cut Pro, iMovie or Adobe Premiere, it is great to have a clean audio to insert in your videos of stories, educational lessons, interviews or narrations. The following equipment I use both in studio and in the field. I am a huge fan of the smartphone Lav mics for the field and a super fan of anything Rhode, just simply the quality is amazing. I often mix audio using Tascam recorders and full audio setups. However, your audio can be caught in camera or with a rhode mic attached to on camera. But caution on the use of on-camera audio mics. If you are in an outdoor environment, the elements such as wind will easily overpower your subject voice and this is very difficult to clean up easily for sound modulations.

As with any setup there are always the additional accessories to consider. In studio, I like to use a tablet as a teleprompter for some video production pieces and I have found attaching to a tripod or existing stand works great. Plus several nice accessories to have would be a dolly for your tripod(s). Listed are some various tablet holders and tripod dolly.

Last but definitely not least is quality tripods. I am a huge Manfrotto fan and the only tripod I use. A tripod to me is like a lens, this is not an area to skimp in cost on. Buy quality and functionality. I can’t tell you how many classes I have taught where students go and purchase the cheapest tripod they can find, the quick $20 version and then good camera gear goes crashing to the ground. What a lot of people do not realize is a tripod is designed to handle varying degrees of weight, the lower cost tripod is good for lightweight equipment such as your point and shoot cameras, pocket cameras, smartphones, etc. But when you add DLSR weights and larger lenses, you are increasing the weight of the gear on top of a tripod. Along comes the gust of wind or uneven ground or accidently bumping into your gear and the results are worth crying over. When that happens, the $20 tripod no longer seems like a good idea when you have just destroyed several hundred dollars of camera equipment. Your tripod selection must be able to handle the weight of your gear or you need to be adding sandbag weight to less robust tripods. Below I have provided a various selection and cost ranges of Manfrotto tripods. Consumer note, the lower end cost of Manfrotto products listed vary, so be sure to understand the weight capacity and ranges the tripod can support. The from experience suggestion, always buy extra mounting plates. There is nothing worse than arriving at your destination after flying 17 hours and lugging your tripod gear along to only find out, you can not find the tripod mounting plate, deeming the tripod useless. Avoid this scenario and panic, buy extra plates.

The great part about designing and building a home / portable studio is the ability to have items that give great results, is packable and portable and is budget friendly and when you take care of the equipment will last for some time. I have been very pleased with the products I have purchased over the years to create my home studios and for some products I have purchased multiples of, especially as I expand into designing educational content and resources.

I hope this article helps if you have questions about budget friendly studio equipment and portable gear. Stay tuned as more tutorials, reviews and guides will be coming. Be sure to sign up for the One Focus One World Adventure Blog to receive notifications of blog postings and certainly stay tuned as EDTrekker come to life with new content for Adventurers, Travelers, Photographers, Tourism and for the K12 Educational Community.

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