Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Picture This: A Home Photo Studio

Guest post by Eileen
Set up a Photo Studio in your Kitchen!

A common misconception that I have heard time and time again is that people who feature beautiful product photos on their blogs must either be professional studio photographers, or at least have fancy equipment and lots of spare time.  I am here to dispel that myth – and demonstrate how with just a few basic items, a little planning and even less time, you can create a studio in your kitchen, (or any natural light-filled space) where you’ll be able to take great still-life photos!

In addition to choosing a spot in your house with good natural lighting, for this set-up you will need:
-- Table or flat surface
-- Selection of fabric, decorative papers, textural backgrounds
-- White foam core board (to use as a reflector)
-- Elmer’s Sturdyboard Stand 
(to prop up your board)
White tissue paper or sheer fabric (to diffuse bright light)
-- Camera + items to photograph
-- Tripod (optional)

My kitchen setup:

Depending on where you live, the time of day, and which direction the light is coming from – you may or may not have very bright light streaming through the window.  I’m in Seattle, so harsh sunlight on a winter day isn’t usually an issue.  That said I still like to cover the glass with some white tissue paper, which acts as a diffuser and creates a softer light.

My table covered with some white fabric + a teacup from Goodwill:

Cover your table or floor with the background material of your choice, and arrange your photo the way you want.  Have your foam-core light-reflector handy, and set it up near your items but outside the frame of your photo.  Take a few shots with and without the reflector to see the difference it makes.

Here you can clearly see a change to the shadow in the upper right corner of the shot.  And while it’s not gone completely in the second photo?  It is significantly better, and even the background feels softer with fewer shadows in the crinkled fabric.

It’s always a good idea to take lots of photos. (Read: “way more than you think you should”...)  In this age of digital photography there is really no reason not to, and the way I look at it?  The more you take, the chances are significantly better that you’ll end up with several that you like!
Once you feel like you’ve captured your scene adequately, move your items, change your background, switch things up a bit and keep on going!  Here I placed the teacup on my concrete floor, removed the fabric and added a white dish.

For a more interesting photo, try cropping part of your subject out and shooting from an angle:

. . . and zooming in!

I love doing product photography and color stories this way because the possibilities to what you can create are endless! 
So there you have it. With just a few basic supplies, some natural light and a little creativity - you can achieve those professional photography results you’ve always dreamed of.

--Eileen Nishi

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thea said...

Wow, what a great tutorial!

Liz Brown said...

These are VERY helpful tips. Thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

Very useful! Thanks for sharing. :D

lily said...


lily said...


Unknown said...

Thanks for this! It's really interesting to see how people get the photos they do


Phredd said...

You make it look so easy. Thanks for sharing.