Changing room into small studio... what else do I need?


No longer a newbie, moving up!
May 20, 2007
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Bolivar, MO
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I have a little room that would work good for a starter studio. I'm a sucker for BW portraits taken in front of a black or white backdrop, so I'd like to get into taking them. Here's my thoughts, and please add to them, or subtract from them! I'll split it up into 3 categories: Already have, to get, and to do.

The room is a 10x15 I believe. One 10' wall has a sliding glass door. The other 10' wall will have the backdrop. The 15' walls will be lined with some large prints of photos I've taken, as a simple gallery. Above the photos, on the ceiling will be track lighting to really light up the photos. I plan on painting the walls black, if that is an OK color, as long as I have enough lighting.

10' is fairly narrow, so my 2 43" umbrellas take up quite a bit of that 10 feet. What should I do about this? I suppose I could stagger them.

Already Have
2 strobes
2 umbrellas
track lighting (for general room lighting)

To Get
backdrops - 1 10x20 black, 1 10x20 white
mounting system for backdrops
mirror or some sort? To use for reflections in portraits
general re-usable props - chair/stool, ?

To Do
Paint walls - flat or semi-gloss black?
Install track lighting above "gallery" on side walls

Well, let me know your ideas. Am I ridiculous for wanting to pull this off, with being such a beginner at portrait work, or am I being smart about it? It won't cost much, and I think it would really help with portraits...

I'd say leave the prints off the walls, and paint them 18% gray... then they won't affect your white balance, and will reflect some light. Also, you wouldn't use mirrors to'd use reflectors (large silver, white, or gold photo reflectors...or you can use white foam board) do have good plans though.

One thing about your two umbrellas. You could always use one light...if it's right for the situation. Also, barebulb/reflector could work. Sometimes hard light is cool with black and white.
Thanks for the tip.

I need to explain the mirror thing... the mirrors wouldn't be for reflecting light necessarily, but as a prop... I've seen a couple really cool photos where somebody was leaning up against a mirror, or reflective glass of some sort...and the photo looked real classy. Peanuts has made good use of this type of thing here.
I think that's a piece of plexiglass, not a mirror. Might be real glass also. I second leaving the prints off the walls and painting gray. Lots more room to play with then.

Ohh I know what you mean.
Then yes...A nice clean/classy full length mirror is always neat for portraits. Or you could order a piece of plexiglass for what they did in that shot.

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