Basic studio?

Discussion in 'The Professional Gallery' started by LittleMan, Aug 10, 2005.

  1. LittleMan

    LittleMan TPF Noob!

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    I am going to be putting together a basic 'portable' portrait studio...
    I need some help because I don't know much about lighting.

    I was looking at this for the background support.
    Adorama

    For the background material... what should it be made out of/what color(s) should it be?

    For the lighting... what is the basic equipment I need?

    Thanks,
    Chris
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    A common choice for background material is Muslin...Or maybe canvas. I'm guessing because it's durable and easy to fold up and pack. Paper is often used in a studio but that's not really a portable solution.

    What color? That's up to you. If you are only going to have one...maybe something neutral would be the best choice...but someone may have some better input.

    As for equipment...how portable do you want to be? You could use a couple of flash/strobe units like Canon 550EX & a 420EX (or two)...one as the master and others running as slaves.

    You could go with mono-light strobs...but you would need AC power. Check out Alienbee for some nice cheap kits.

    Don't forget umbrellas or soft boxes, stands, reflectors etc.

    I admit, I don't have any experience with this stuff so I can't tell you much...but I've looked into getting my own set up as well. I think if you are more specific as to what & where you are thinking...someone here will have some better advice.
     
  3. LittleMan

    LittleMan TPF Noob!

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    Thanks BigMike...
    I would like to change my questions a bit...
    Can a portrait photographer get by without having any of this and just do all the shooting outside? Or will the people expect to have some studio photographs? Is it acceptable to even call yourself a portrait photographer without this equipment? Or should I just stay out of it all together?
    Is it acceptable to say in my website (I'm building) that I don't have a studio and all portraits can be taken outside in whatever background you choose?

    I am at a loss right now as to what to do... I want to do this to make money month to month... but don't know where to start. :(
     
  4. Alison

    Alison Swiss Army Friend Supporting Member

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    Here's what I started with:

    -2 muslin backdrops, one beige and one dark blue/green & background stand
    -Strobe kit from Hensel lighting (bought used and it was two strobes with modeling lights). Check e-bay or a local store for used lighting kits. The first one I tried didn't work very well and I was able to return it. Interfit also makes some nice, simple set up. If you get it as a kit the umbrellas should be included. I have both shoot through and reflective ones.
    -Reflector and diffuser
    -Some props as well. A posing table is nice for seniors, etc and if you're going to work with children I suggest a few small chairs or a bench. I don't use a lot of props, but a few good ones are worth the money

    Like Mike said, paper backdrops are great, and a lot cheaper but the ones I have are 9' long and a pain to transport.

    All I've really added to this is some additional backgrounds. I've put more money into better lenses and backup equipment. It's pretty portable and once you do it a few times you'll find the best way to carry things efficiently.
     
  5. Alison

    Alison Swiss Army Friend Supporting Member

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    Oh sure, change your question now :lol:

    Can you do this without the equipment? Technically, yes. But, if you're going to do outdoors only weather can be an issue and depending on your climate you're also limiting the times that you can shoot.

    Most seniors will probably expect some sort of indoor/backdrop shot with their packages. Even if they don't, Mom, Dad and Grandparents will. But, you don't have to have a lot of fancy equipment to provide this. Like Mike said, you can set up a few flashes and try to use natural light as well.

    Everyone has to start somehwere. My first shoots were done at cost and were a good learning experience for me. Starting a business takes hard work and creativity. My studio has been in operation for about 2 1/2 years and I'm just now starting to get repeat customers and enough calls to keep me busy. I'd say it's worth a shot, if you aren't investing a ton of money you have nothing to lose and it could be a lot of fun!
     
  6. LittleMan

    LittleMan TPF Noob!

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    Thanks Alison! Sorry for changing my question while you were typing... :blushing:
     
  7. CrazyAva

    CrazyAva TPF Noob!

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    I started out doing everything on location at an outdoor setting. I live in southern california though so I could get away with that since 90% of the year is sun (with the exception of this year)

    After I got a few clients and had a little more business and $$$ I purchased my lighting set. I did a bit of research to figure out what I would need and then I practiced because studio lighting is so completely different from outdoor lighting. My studio is completely mobile. Folds up into a box that fits in the trunk of my car.

    I purchased it at http://www.owens-originals.com
     
  8. wxnut

    wxnut TPF Noob!

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    Here is what I do. Looks messy, but the results are great and cheap. I just for warn the client that I am just starting out and do not have a studio, and that I set up in a room in my house. (Or there house if they want me to go there.)

    I can set up in 20 mins.

    1. Light stands
    2. tota hot lights (could use strobes to. Its up to you)
    3. diffusing umbrella
    4. shop lights. (Buy at wal mart for 3.99 a peice) (use bulb of choice. 100 watts)

    5. Back drops. (Red and white are single bed sheets bought at walmart for $4.00 a peice. The black and tan are raw fabric sewn into a backdrop, and the grey is a muslin bought from backdrop outlet.)

    6. Window fan to blow hair.
    7. Chairs and stools for posing tools.
    8. Reflecting umbrella.

    Stands, tripod, umbrellas, and light cords fit into a soft shell carrying case. Lights and cameras go into 2 hard shell cases. All can fit in the back seat of my Neon. Takes 2 trips to get it from car to room.

    [​IMG]

    And these are the results I get... Just shot these today...

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Any other questions let me know.
    Doug
    http://www.wxnut.net
     
  9. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Sure. You can get by just fine shooting outdoor portraits. And, yes... different clients will have different expectations. Just remember you're not always gonna be the guy for every job. This is OK. You don't owe it to the community to do all types of portraits because you offer one kind.

    Perfectly acceptable. Some stores sell only car tires, mufflers and batteries. They don't have the equipment to work on radiators and starters. It's not what the do. Some doctors are ENTs, and can't help with chest pain. They're still doctors.

    I insist that I choose the background. I will consisder any sugestions, but if a location is not condusive to portraits, we have to look further.

    Some months seem it's only spending and no cash flow. But I know one thing for sure... if you're not shooting, you have nothing to sell.

    BTW... Seamless paper is usually not a good choice as a background for portraits. You can transport it OK if you have a van or wagon, but it's not a good all-around choice. If I had to take only one of my backgrounds, I'd choose a canvas. They come different widths and can be supported with a single pic stand.

    I hope this helps.

    -Pete
     
  10. PhotoB

    PhotoB TPF Noob!

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    I found a nice lighting set (Calumet) on e-bay for $600. I had to buy bulbs because either they were blown or got busted in shipping. :frown: I have studio lights, 2 white umbrellas, and 2 light stands in a hard-sided case. Will still need a boom light for when I ever DO get my studio going (still just a dream), but I'm ready. When I get $ from a job, I buy some new piece of equipment- so I have yet to make any money, but I also have a steady FT job so it's not a concern. *yet*
     
  11. LAB

    LAB TPF Noob!

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    I just put together my set-up.6-SB800 flash units.5-Manfrotto Boom Stands Plus Background stands 1-Black Background 1-N. Gray Backgound 1-5 in 1 52in reflectors,I'm using color Gels to change my background colors.It fixs in a golf travel bag its on wheels and this has work very good for me.
     
  12. Tally Ho

    Tally Ho TPF Noob!

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    Doug,

    In two of your three images, you used broad lighting which cast unattractive shadows across her body and face. Using short lighting will get you pleasing shadows and will slenderize her.

    Tally Ho
     

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