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Creating a Home Photography Studio on a Budget

A Guest post by Kimberly Gauthier from Through the Lens of Kimberly Gauthier

Sidney 043011-7.jpgI live in the Pacific Northwest and every now and then we have days when the weather isn’t ideal. Overcast days are fantastic for photography, but the rainy days drive me inside. I have a sleeve for my camera that I use on those days when a shot is too good to pass up; otherwise, I use my home studio.

The idea of creating a home photography studio was inspired by a long, wet spell in Washington. We had an empty room and after some research on photography studios, I came up with a plan and set about creating my studio. My goal was to build a place to take pictures out of the rain and I was convinced that I could accomplish this without breaking the bank and I was right. This is how I turned a 250 square foot room into a photography studio for less than $500. Keep in mind that I already owned the camera, lenses, and tripod.

2 gallons of paint (bonus: it was buy one, get one free) $20

My initial plan was to choose brown and pink (my logo colors) and maybe green, but after some research I went with two shades of grey; they’d do the least amount of damage to skin tones when I had portrait parties with friends. One gallon was matched to the white balance grey card and the second was a shade lighter. Someone suggestion that I go with a black room (or a black wall), but this would be a pain to repaint if we put the house on the market.

Continuous lighting kit set, 2 7’ stands, 1 mini stand, 4 umbrellas (2 white, 1 black/silver, 1 black/gold), carrying case $110

When I was researching lighting equipment, I was intimidated by the strobe sets. I wanted to start small, because lighting is an area where I need improvement and this kit was perfect for me; it’s light weight, it’s portable, and it doesn’t take up a lot of space. I was able to take free local workshops to get the basics and I followed that up with tutorials on YouTube.

10’x20’ backdrops: grey, black, white, and brown $130

I was tempted to buy sheets, but the fabric was too sheer and sewing (not my forte) would be involved to get them ready to hang. The backdrops I purchased aren’t top of the line (as you may guess by the price, which is for all four), but they work. The size makes them a pain to fold for storage and great for group shots.

Backdrop System: purchased supplies from the hardware store $35

I searched for a portable backdrop system, but the ones I found that fit within my budget took up too much floor space. My boyfriend built my backdrop system in an afternoon and it is effective, doesn’t take up floor space, but it isn’t portable. I have no idea how he put it together, although I “helped,” but he shared the ingredients with me: 10’ dowel, PVC pipe, closet rod “receiver,” trimmed 2x4s, 1 bolt.

Furniture & Props $150

I commandeered furniture from around the house, purchased two stools off of Craigslist, and purchased an armoire from an auction. Furniture/Props: sofa, 2 stools, bench, two armoires (for storage), card table, folding chair, and 2 mirrors. It helped that we had extra furniture when we combined households.

Total Price $445

Don’t let being an amateur photographer discourage you from creating a space at home for your photography. My studio came together in 3 months and is much more affordable than renting space and a better idea than taking over our dining room. If you’re interested in creating a home studio, avoid going overboard on spending by creating a budget and sticking to it; if you can’t find the right price or item today, check tomorrow or next week. Develop a space plan, shop online, buy used, and ask for suggestions from other photographers.

Considering everything that’s in my studio, $445 isn’t bad.

Read more from Kim at Through the Lens of Kimberly Gauthier.

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