Home Studios, They’re Easier Than You Think…and cheaper too!

What comes to mind when you think about professional studios? Indoor photo shoots? I’m guessing you are imagining some flashy car or a gorgeous model, set in front of a flawless white background, multiple bright spotlights shining directly onto the perfectness of the subject matter. Sounds pretty high fashion (a.k.a. high dollar) and intense huh? The reality is that it doesn’t have to be so intense and it doesn’t have to be so costly. These days, studio gear has come down in price and advances in technology have made this gear far more user friendly. Thus, more of our fellow photographers are able to set up shop in their own homes at a fraction of the cost. We’re talking only about $1,000.00 to get you up and running. Just don’t meet clients still in your pajamas…I know it’s a home studio, but that may detract from the professional image…just sayin’.

Below are the 5 must-haves for a successful home studio:

Home Studio Must-Have #1: Background – We can’t all have a world class cyclorama as a part of our studios, at least not yet.  A fantastic alternative is to use seamless background paper. It’s inexpensive and the two most popular sizes (53 inches and 107 inches) can be purchased for anywhere between $20-$40. The stands that support these paper rolls only go for about $60 themselves so for a mere $100, you have your versatile studio background.

Home Studio Must-Have #2: Strobes – Ok so first things first, we aren’t talking about disco status strobe lights. Strobes are just pro speak for studio flash, aka lighting. They are basically the same thing as your off camera flash however they are far more powerful and put out more light which is necessary for killer studio shots. And p.s. they can be acquired for as little as $300. Say what!?

Home Studio Must-Have #3: Softbox – In last week’s post we talked about window lighting and how this diffused light creates some of the best elements for photography. Same thing applies to studio shots. However, studios are usually very dark with the exception of the strobes so how do we create that same diffused lighting? You guessed it, a softbox. For only about $200, they fit right over your strobes and are the pro choice for making the harsh light of your strobe, bigger and softer.

Flickr j_kacey
Flickr j_kacey

Home Studio Must-Have #3a: Speed Ring – Some softboxes will come with a speed ring built right in. However many do not, so if this is the case for you, make sure you put it on your shopping list. Be super on top of your game though and make sure to purchase one that is made to fit your brand of strobe. Speed rings are small metal circles, with four holes on the sides designed to hold the four thin poles that give your softbox its shape. Depending on the quality, they can cost anywhere from$50 to $120.

Home Studio Must-Have #4: Light Meter – These little babies are so helpful when you are working with multiple lights and possibly multiple reflectors and need to choose the perfect exposure. They are super easy to use and will save you hours of stressful Photoshop adjustments. Besides, your time is far more valuable than the $250 it costs to purchase these tools of exposure perfection.

Home Studio Must-Have #5: Silver Reflector – Are you thinking you need to spend another $300, for a second strobe in order to handle those pesky shadows? Not necessarily.  Be nice to yourself (and your wallet) and just pick up a $40 silver reflector. It will throw a ton of gentle light back toward your subject matter and quickly illuminate any undesired shadows.

Flickr afshinheidary
Flickr afshinheidary

Ok, drum roll please as we do our Financial Re-Cap:

  • Background – $100.00
  • Strobe – $300.00
  • Softbox – $200.00
  • Speed ring – $120.00
  • Light Meter – $250.00
  • Silver Reflector – $40.00

 

Home Studio Grand Total:  $1010.00

You, Your Subject and Window Light – Top 3 FAQ’s

You really can’t get more perfect lighting then from natural window light. The reason being, that the window diffuses the bright light coming through it, especially at the edge of the window. This will leave you with soft, yet clear and illuminated images and none of those squinty-eyed smiles. For as gentle and beautiful as window light is, there are some subtle nuances to be aware of when shooting subject matter utilizing the natural glow. Below are the top 3 most frequently asked questions of window light shots.

Window Light FAQ #1: Where do I position my subject?

If you are shooting a portrait, start by having them sit just past the window, about 6 feet away from the wall. This will allow the light to gently and fully envelop them. Too close and too direct in the sunlight will have you seeing some real funky dark and light contrasting. Also, have your subject sit with the side of their shoulder facing the window. This allows the light to fall flatteringly across their face, leaving soft natural shadows on the far sides.

Window Light FAQ #2: Where do I position myself?

Although it may seem more natural to stand right in front of them while shooting, what actually is more natural is to shoot closer to the angle in which the window light is streaming. This means that you will position yourself with the side of your shoulder right up against the window. Be careful not to stand in the light, but right at the edge of the window. You will end up aiming backwards slightly, due to the way you positioned your subject, but it will create the most striking portraits.

Window Light FAQ #3: What if I’m not shooting a portrait?

As with the picture below, sometimes allowing the light to shine through the subject matter, can create lovely and dramatic photos. Obviously that doesn’t work with humans, and if it does, they may need more calcium… In any case, it all depends on what emotion you are trying to create. Start by placing your subject in the same position mentioned above. Again, that edge light is the softest and most complimentary. Once you have accomplished that, feel free to move around it and see what each angle will produce. As always, make sure you are zoom checking each shot for tack sharpness.

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BONUS Tip! Ok, so we’ve established that natural window light is fantastic, but did you know that you may still want or need a light reflector? Additionally, and contrary to popular belief, you don’t always want to place that reflector on the shadowy side of your subject. If you want to open up those shadows, try placing the reflector above the camera position. Bouncing the light down onto your subject matter from closer to the window will accomplish the same thing but in a less aggressive way. And that’s what we’ve been talking about all along right? Soft, natural lighting? Awesome, get to practicing and pretty soon you’ll be known as the Portrait Specialist in your ‘hood!

14 Charming Toddler Portrait Ideas

toddler portrait ideas ducklings-fabulousphotosbybrittany

Oh, the toddler years! It’s a time filled with endless discovery, curious exploration and growing independence. A toddler’s energy is a force to be reckoned with, matched only by their powerful self-will. Since capturing these pint-sized whirlwinds on camera can be (more than a bit) tricky, we’ve compiled 14 easy to re-create toddler portrait ideas that are sure to bring a smile to both the child’s and their parents’ faces!

Toddler Portrait Idea #1-3 – Close Up

Mommies, daddies and grandparents agree – there’s nothing better than a “close up” of their favorite little sweetheart! It doesn’t matter if the child is smiling or snoozing away, a close up is always a sure-fire hit.

toddler portrait ideas close up-jrishel
Flickr: jrishel
toddler portrait ideas close up bw-vivarin
Flickr: vivarin
toddler portrait ideas shh sleeping-oaspetele_de_piatra
Flickr: oaspetele_de_piatra

Toddler Portrait Idea #4-5 – Exploring the Great Outdoors

Little ones just love playing outside! Whether it’s a blooming meadow, a babbling brook or a park filled with playground equipment, each setting lends itself to the mood of adventure and discovery.

toddler portrait ideas country bridge-joelleim
Flickr: joelleim
toddler portrait ideas picking flowers-trebecca84
Flickr: trebecca84

 

Toddler Portrait Idea #6 – Peekaboo!

It’s the first game a child learns to play which also doubles as a great ice breaker for nervous children and their eager photographers. Playing peekaboo with your hands or with a prop is guaranteed to bring out the giggles in everyone – fast!

toddler portrait ideas playground-brandobean
Flickr: brandobean

 

Toddler Portrait Idea #7 – Off to the Side

There’s no rule that says a head shot must be taken…well…head-on. In fact, jazzing it up a bit by having part of the child’s face just out of view creates a winning artistic touch. Be sure to keep a framed sample copy nearby to showcase this idea to its fullest potential.

toddler portrait ideas peekaboo-beattys
Flickr: beattys

 

Toddler Portrait Idea #8-9 – Walking Hand in Hand

Those wobbly first steps are precious indeed! Experiment with this portrait idea by having the child walk holding their parents’ hands or fingers, or walking along with an older sibling to add perspective and a wisp of nostalgia.

toddler portrait ideas walking with parents-anvuela
Flickr: anvuela
toddler portrait ideas ducklings-fabulousphotosbybrittany
Flickr: fabulousphotosbybrittany

Toddler Portrait Idea #10-11 – Just Mommy (or Daddy) and Me

It’s time for your subjects to pucker up and snuggle in close with this classic parent & child pose. Frame the photo within a variety of settings such as a nearby park or a big cozy chair to kindle that familial bond. Include grandparents or a favorite aunt or uncle to create a beautiful family treasure in minutes!

toddler portrait ideas father and son-joelleim
Flickr: joelleim
toddler portrait ideas mommys kisses-lab2112
Flickr: lab2112

 

Toddler Portrait Idea #12 – One Small Step

When you’re less than 3 feet high, climbing the stairs is a monumental feat! Capture this proud-as-can-be moment with a photo of the wee one ascending that magical staircase of victory. Jazz up the scene a little bit with a sparkly crown, fairy wings or even a little super hero cape for added effect. (Be sure to have an adult or parent nearby for safety!)

toddler portrait ideas one big step-svenstorm
Flickr: svenstorm

 

Toddler Portrait Idea #13 – So Curious!

Toddlerhood is a time for asking all sorts of questions from morning ‘til night. A sweet portrait depicting a little one’s ponderous expression captures both the innocence and wonder of this all too fleeting time in their lives.

toddler portrait ideas curious-37115419@N02
Flickr: 37115419@N02

 

Toddler Portrait Idea #14 – Angelic Profile

A little one’s profile is truly a thing of beauty – just as their mama! The contours of their faces are soft and rounded, from their sloping foreheads to their tiny button noses. Be sure to allow for plenty of light across the eyes to create a slightly ethereal look.

toddler portrait ideas angel eyes-foxtongue
Flickr: foxtongue

 

Newborn Baby Photography Prop Ideas

Now that your baby’s first portrait session is planned and ready to go, it’s time to consider incorporating a few props to bump up the cute factor. For this article, we’ve compiled an assortment of some of the most adorable newborn prop ideas for your consideration.

These photography props for newborns range in style from your basic “sweet and innocent” look, to the more dramatic “future child model” pose. We hope that they will provide a springboard, if you will, to help further and hone your own artistic vision.

Newborn Baby Photography Prop Idea #1

Angel Wings – Everyone knows that little bundle of joy was sent straight from heaven. (Just ask Grandma!) Accentuate your little cherub’s innocence with a pair of feathery angel wings. Experiment with different wing sizes and colors, and try photographing the child sleeping, sitting up or supported by a few soft pillows to create a “sitting amongst the clouds” look.

Flickr: bigpinkcookie

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8 Adorable Newborn Picture Ideas

newborn-picture-ideas-family-connection-inserttitlehere

From their sweet smelling heads to their ten tiny toes, nothing brings a family closer together than the birth of a new baby.  From the moment they’re born, we’re mesmerized by their ever wiggle, giggle and sigh. We know that babyhood passes all too quickly, so we do everything we can to capture each moment as it comes.

Whether you’re a first-time parent or a burgeoning photographer, don’t panic. You can shoot extraordinary newborn portraits worthy of Anne Geddes herself. All you need is a spark of ingenuity and a charming little subject…

Here are 8 adorable newborn picture ideas to get your creativity flowing:

Newborn Picture Idea #1

Baby’s First Close-Up – Getting directly in your newborn’s face with the camera may prove to be an exercise in fear (theirs) and frustration (yours). Instead, use your zoom to take baby’s first close-up. This will help you do away with unnecessary distractions and focus directly on those big beautiful eyes.

newborn-picture-ideas-closeup-edgarbarany
Flickr: edgarbarany

 

Continue reading “8 Adorable Newborn Picture Ideas”

Children’s Portrait Photography: 10 Tried ‘n True Ideas

Looking to expand your artistic portfolio? Consider these tried ‘n true techniques for creating one-of-a-kind children’s portraits. Just remember – photographing children can be tricky and requires flexibility, a splash of silliness and a pound of patience! If one technique isn’t working for either you or the child, bag it and try another.

Children’s Portrait Photography Idea #1:

Use Their “Natural” Habitat – Photographing  children while they’re happily engaged in their favorite activity – whether that be reading, drawing, building a Lego tower or cooking with every pot in the kitchen – allows the child’s personality to shine forth in all its glory.  For more prop ideas, check out these children’s photography prop ideas.

Flickr: trazomfreak

Continue reading “Children’s Portrait Photography: 10 Tried ‘n True Ideas”

10 Children’s Photography Props

Photographing your child is one of parenthood’s most treasured “perks”, and finding just the right children’s photography prop to showcase your son’s or daughter’s unique brand of cuteness will greatly enhance these moments. Here is a list of fun and slightly whimsical children’s photography props to help get your creative juices flowing…

Children’s Photography Prop #1:

Bubbles – The “blow-your-own” and plastic unpoppable varieties provide a stamp of playfulness to any photo session. For a bath time portrait, consider adding a rubber ducky or a hooded towel to complete the scrub-a-dub-dub look.  For tweens, consider using a bubble machine to create a funky atmosphere.

flickr: cali2okie

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9 Photography Prop Ideas to Create Unique Portraits

Whether your photographing children, your pet or your best friend’s engagement, the creative use of props can take your photos from “nice” to “incredible” in a matter of minutes. Just remember – the idea behind using photography props is to enhance your photos, not detract or overpower them.  Many household items, as well as those already cherished by your subject can be used in a variety of ways.

Here is a list of photography prop ideas to consider using during your next portrait session…

Photography Prop Idea #1

A Bench – A bench can be dressed up or down to fit a variety of portrait themes. Look for one with a bit of character as it will help spark more artistic possibilities. Experiment with your subject’s placement too – whether sitting on, standing behind or lying underneath the bench itself.

flickr: seanmolin

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Photography Release Form: Do I need one?

Model Release: Minor

Save yourself time, money, and your good name by knowing if you need a model release or not. A model release is a document that the person, or people, you photograph sign releasing their pictures, giving you permission to legally use their likeness.

Model Release
If he or she is in a public place, then you can take his or her picture.

I’ll boil it down first: no one ever got hurt by having a model release (okay, here I’m just assuming…). Better safe than sorry.

But in actuality, in most cases you probably don’t need one.

Follow Privacy Laws

If you sneak up and take a photograph of someone through her kitchen window, you invaded her privacy. If she is in a public place, then you can take her picture.

How Will You Use the Image?

#1 Reason You Need a Model Release: Advertising Continue reading “Photography Release Form: Do I need one?”

Ten Tips for Photographing Family Portraits

A typical family picture session scenario looks something like this:  Mother is frazzled from all the pushing, prodding, and preparing she had to do prior to arriving. Dad just wants to get it over with, but acts mildly supportive to avoid the wrath of Mom.  Kids have been threatened with the loss of TV, Wii, or social life. Teenagers act as if they’ve been led to the slaughter.

Children have your attention for about 3 minutes — even with the bribes the parents gave them.

There are always exceptions, but I really find this to be typical. So is Mom’s dream of a priceless family portrait doomed? Is it even worth your time? Continue reading “Ten Tips for Photographing Family Portraits”