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Budget Home Studio

You don’t need to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on studio lighting to capture professional portrait photographs at home! In fact, I would go so far as to say that professionals who do spend exorbitant amounts of money on such equipment spend most of their professional careers overcharging clients to pay off said equipment; while any amateurs considering the purchase of such equipment would be better off spending their hard-earned cash on furthering their education of portrait techniques such as composition!

Here are some samples of portrait photography that I captured over the weekend using lighting and other equipment that I already had available to me at home. Click any image for a larger view, or read on below for more details about the lighting…

Kristen's Creative Headshot

Kristen's Creative Headshot

Kristen's Portrait

Kristen's Portrait

Knock Knock

Knock Knock

Who's There?

Who's There?

Using my knowledge of studio lighting techniques, I was able to setup a makeshift studio using the equipment that I already had available to me at home to achieve the results above. Instead of using an expensive backdrop, I had Kristen pose several feet in front of a plain, white wall…

Just as one would use a bright light to minimise shadows on the backdrop in a studio, I used a desk lamp with a bright, fluorescent tube installed to illuminate the backdrop… and this was where I metered the light for the shots.

To give life and definition to a model’s hair, professionals will generally add a diffuesed light off to the side of the model at head height. To emulate this setup using home equipment, I added two bedside lamps with traditional lightbulbs and frosted glass casing in the same position that I would in a professional studio. Coincidentally, adding these lights to the mix didn’t alter my light readings from the background wall at all.

Finally, I did incorporate one item of professional lighting equipment that I already had in my camera bag to flood light Kristen’s features… a mounted flash unit. Rather than pointing the flash directly at Kristen, I turned the flash head towards a nearby wall and extended the flash unit’s built-in reflector/diffuser panel to soften the light and reduce the contrast between highlights and shadows on her face. This is equivalent to the professional photographer’s use of a reflector kit to bounce softened light onto a subject rather than capturing harsh, direct light from a flash or other light source. I have also used sheets of bright, white cardboard to achieve the same effect in the past, when composition hasn’t allowed me to have a plain wall nearby.

As you can see, the lighting displayed in the final images is comparable to that produced by professional studio equipment… but it didn’t cost me a cent!

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