If you read my last post about how I organize my prop library, you'll know that I don't live in a fancy mansion with lots of space in my home. To have an enclosed room to house all my props is luxury enough. Sadly, this same room is not ideal for doing all my photography.
I do sometimes shoot photography in my studio, but mostly I create content, brainstorm styled shoots and fiddle with paperwork my adoring fans are uninterested in. (The "adoring fans" bit would be one of those times I'm being sarcastic.)
Anyway, that's a lot of words just to tell you that you don't need to have a perfect white box with natural light flowing in from all angles for a house. You can create a makeshift photography studio anywhere. If you don't have space for a photography studio, read on for behind-the-scenes reveal of how I've managed to create beautiful photos in my small home.
With space at a premium in my home, I have to create photography studios that can be set up quickly and taken down even quicker. I can't keep my photography equipment and photo props laying around too long because I share my home with my husband and mobile-friendly baby. They need to live in their home too.
Depending on lighting conditions and how much area I need to capture the perfect shot, I shoot photos in 3-4 different locations of my home:
1 | THE STUDIO
If I could shoot in my studio all the time, I absolutely would. This is my personal space where no one comes in. My props are organized here and I can grab anything I need within arm's reach. I could also keep my styling set up here if I need to continue another day.
The main problem is that the lighting in here is pretty crap. There are afternoons when the sun is bright and the sky is clear and blue. On those days, the sun filters through the wood blinds creating dappled light across my painted white desk surface and it's amazing. I'll sweep all my equipment off the desk and pull props off the shelves just so I can capture that romantic light.
But most days, it's so dark in here that my photos come out too grainy from bumping up the ISO so high. It's just not worth the struggle.
The other downside to shooting in my studio is that there's not a lot of floor space. More on why I need to shoot on the floor next!
2 | THE PLAYROOM
As a brand photographer, shooting flat lays comes with the territory. To get the best flat lay shot, I need to shoot from high up.
Considering my ceilings are only 8 feet high, tabletops are 30" off the floor and I stand at 5'2", there's just not enough height in my house to get a good flat lay shot without me climbing ladders all the time. (I'd love to get a Manfrotto tripod with a horizontal column, but it's not in the budget just yet.)
So, the easiest and most economical solution is to set up studio on the floor.
My son's playroom is where I shoot most of my flat lays. When his toys are put away, there is nothing but floor space. I just lay out my backgrounds and props directly on the floor and shoot away.
The playroom is located next to the sunroom which makes lighting conditions less harsh for those cloudless days. I just can't keep my equipment set up more than an hour at a time. Because baby gotta play!
3 | THE SUNROOM
Speaking of the sunroom!
Of course this is the room in the house that gets THE BEST LIGHT. I could shoot in here a full 8 hours and the light would be beautiful.
Except when it's nothing but blue skies outside and the sun is at high noon. Oh man, does the light in here get super harsh! I have to basically add diffusers to all the windows and skylights in order to get softer shadows. But who has time to do all that when you just need some Instagram photos done?
This is why I don't shoot in here all the time. There are also a lot of furniture that needs to be moved around when I want to shoot on the floor.
Sometimes I fantasize about clearing out this entire room just to make it my photography studio. But it's poorly insulated: frigid cold in the winter and stifling hot in the summer. I'd rather make do with the other rooms on this list until I can afford the studio of my dreams.
4 | THE DINING TABLE
Back when I was 7 months pregnant, I refinished the dining table top. And when I was 8 months pregnant, I built a coffee table with map drawers. I'm pretty badass.
As I designed those pieces, I knew I'd want to use those surfaces as photography backdrops. So they were both stained in colors I could use in my photo styling.
The natural light in the dining and living rooms are the best when it's full sun outside because there are no harsh shadows no matter what. That's the beauty of north facing windows! Unfortunately, when it's cloudy or rainy outside, the light is just too dim in these rooms.
And how often does Vancouver see full sun? Exactly.