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Apartment studio set up

Chad Marek , Nov 22, 2006; 04:39 p.m.

What would I need to get and how much would I need to budget for a portrait studio setup in my apartment. I have an open room with an open wall about 10 feet long.

I do not have deep pockets but would invest to make sure it is professional.



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Michael Madio , Nov 22, 2006; 07:00 p.m.

What are you trying to shoot and with what equipment?

Michael Madio , Nov 22, 2006; 07:54 p.m.

Also look at the Strobist site for some good info.

Chris Leck , Nov 23, 2006; 01:04 a.m.

What do you have? Where do you want to go? Maybe all you need is a backdrop and a couple of speedlights. I also recommend looking at Strobist ( http://strobist.blogspot.com/ ).

Ten feet is about half of optimal for portrait studio depth. You may need to work with wider lenses (wider than conventional portrait lenses) and put your subjects a bit close to the background.

Steve Levine , Nov 23, 2006; 08:23 a.m.

Ten feet will work for a single person head shot only. You need more like twenty feet to use a portrait length lens on a 3/4 or full length portrait.

W. Smith , Nov 23, 2006; 08:29 a.m.

Hi Chad, I have a "portable studio" that stows away in a medium-sized suitcase. Excellent for small appartments and perfect for locationwork.

My "portable studio" basically consists of 3x wireless 5600D flashguns on their own tripods, a 3' and a 4' silver/white Lastolite reflector. This provides plenty 'oomph', I can bounce and fake 'softboxes' and balance shadows, and endlessly vary combinations.

An apparent downside is that you have no modelling lights. But, hey!, this is the digital age, so you simply do a test shot, you chimp - on a laptop for a good view! - and adjust if neccessary!

I shoot live subjects with unsupported camera, because flash freezes movement anyway, and it enables me to move around freely, direct the scene, try different angles and viewpoints, or adjust the lighting.

The combination of versatility, portability and power means that I use this setup often.

Craig Shearman , Nov 24, 2006; 10:54 p.m.

For backdrops, check out seamless background paper or the "People Popper" and "Background in a Bag" systmes, both at www.bhphotovideo.com. I use Novatron monlights but there are many brands. Make sure you get something with good modeling lights -- my Novatron has 150 watt modeling lights and that's just barely enough to focus by. Don't buy the $100 toy strobes with 60-watt modeling lights. You have to keep your subject away from the background as much as possible so 10 feet is pretty tight. Might use an 85 instead of a 105 lens.

Steve Hovland , Nov 25, 2006; 10:17 a.m.

Maybe you should go to them rather than them coming to you- I hear it pays more.

Learn to use windows, hallways, porches etc as primary sources, with flash fill.

Charles Webster , Nov 28, 2006; 07:13 p.m.

Ten feet isn't hardly enough room even for head shot portraits. I'm doing head & shoulders portraits in my home studio and am struggling with getting the subject far enough away from the light (24 X 36 softbox) to get even tones. I shoot with a 50mm on a 1.6X crop camera and it's adequate for perspective control with head & shoulders.


Endo Johnson , Nov 30, 2006; 12:16 a.m.

Don't listen to these meatheads who tell you 10 feet isn't enough. It is way less than optimal, but you're not going to move anytime soon, are you? If that's all you've got to work with, then that's it.

I do fine from 10 feet with a black background (so a nice, blurry background isn't a problem) two umbrellas on stands with off-camera Vivtar 285HV's, a tripod (Manfrotto) and that's it. Granted, more would be better, but work with what you have.

Get outside, if possible. Learn to use reflectors.

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