A home studio setup doesn't have to be overly complicated. In this cheat sheet we'll show you six essential items every photographer should have in their home studio setup.
There's a lot of complicated sounding equipment that comes with studio photography, but don't get too bogged down with this. Our basic home studio set-up below shows you the essential items that you'll actually need.
When you're working with two lights a reflector is still surprisingly useful as it'll effectively act as a third light. It can be used to bounce one of the existing lights back at the subject. If you're working outside with natural light a reflector is extremely handy.
Reflectors come in many shapes and sizes, and different colours and surfaces will have different effects on a subject. Just like the studio lights the height, angle and distance at which a reflector is positioned will all have an impact on the end result.
The ideal home studio setup
Most backdrops come in the form of a roll of paper. They're available in a variety of sizes and colours. You'll need support stands and a pole to keep the backdrop in place. If you don't have one, try a large sheet or piece of fabric. Black velvet is a great choice, it has light-absorbing qualities and gives a nice rich black.
02 Main light
Use this with a diffuser, like a softbox. A softbox softens the light so the shadows are less harsh, and gives window-shaped catchlights in the eyes. The angle, height and distance of the main light are vital to getting the look you want. The power of the flash is controlled using buttons on the flash head.
You'll need to connect your camera to the studio lights. This can be done through a sync cable (if your SLR has a PC socket) or with wireless triggers. In a controlled environment like a studio you're best off switching to Manual mode.
04 Hair light
The second light is positioned behind the model with a snoot attached. The snoot concentrates the light, and here we've got it pointing at the hair. Not only does this light the hair, it creates a separation from the background.
A reflector is used to bounce light back from the main light into the shaded side of the subject's face. This ensures the shadow is still there to define the shape of the face but isn't too dark. See the opposite page for more on reflectors.
New models are keen to build their portfolios and increase their experience and so you can usually come to mutually agreeable arrangements - for a small fee or trading their time in exchange for use of your photos.
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