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Making an entire home portrait studio from scratch. Answered

Ok I have decided today.... I am going to buld an entire home portrait studio From start to finish to take pictures of my little girls. Im going to build everything except the camera and tripod, and make it as cheap as possible while still keeping to the motto "simple stupid".
Here is the list i have so far.
soft box, reflector umbrella, back drop, backdrop stand,sitting box,power supply with switch (or switches havent decided yet), adjustable lights, light stands, and back drop holders.
I will be posting the instructables as I go along. If anyone can think of anything else I may need please let me know.


Are you going for flash or continuous lighting? I think that the lighting and lighting stands can be bought cheaply enough that it is not really worth making them yourself. Put the effort into making the backdrops, reflector and shading panels.

I would add a faux wall with baseboard trim and different types of floor that you could swap out. Pergo style, etc.

what you can do that doesnt cost a whole lot of money is use light sources that are of equal intensity on poles and tie pieces of string that have knots at 1 foot intervals so that you can measure the distance from light source to subject and adjust your lighting ratios accordingly... you can experiment with your principal light at 4 feet and your shadow fill at 8 feet... thats a 2:1 distance but because of the inverse square law you would have a 4:1 light ratio and the key light for the hair can be brighter (closer than the main light (but out of the picture, ) equidistant or further away.. you can also record these things in a notebook so that when you hit on an arrangement you like, you can repeat it. works with hot lights and flash and is cheap.


It all depends on what type of portraits you want to do.

What type of lights are you planning on using?

What camera and lens are you going to use?

A nice, simple light stand can be made with a 1x2" x however high you need piece of wood. Put one end in an empty paint bucket and pour in cement. A photo studio for a billion dollar company I've worked for uses a bunch of these.

Depending on how big a space you're going to have, and whether you plan of photographing full figure or groups, you might consider making a v-flat. Get two 4x8 ft sheets of Gatorboard, each with a black side and a white side. Lay them down with the long edges abutting. Take gaffer's tape and run down the seam on both sides all the way around. You now have V-flat, which can be used to bounce light with the white side or subtract light with the black side. A nice thing is that it's self supporting.

Depending on the style of portraiture, you might also consider making scrims, flags, gobos....

Petersern Photographic put out a couple of books about DIY photo gear. Your library might have a copy.

If you have questions I'll try to help. I'm a professional assistant photographer.