How to Build a DIY Home Photography Studio on a Budget
You’ve seen the self-portraits on Instagram. Everyone is taking quality candid photographs of themselves at home and they look amazing. You want to get in on the Insta action but your selfies aren’t cutting it, and who has the money to buy professional studio equipment? Well, you don’t need to go out and buy fancy lighting equipment or camera rigs to have a photography studio at home. With the right spot and some planning, you can build a DIY home photography studio and you don’t have to break the bank to do it. Here’s our how-to guide for building a DIY home photography studio with minimal to no effort or cost.
Pick a Location
Find an area that gives you enough space to set up your camera, feel comfortable and pose the way you want. A white wall as a backdrop is preferable as it will reflect light and give you a blank canvas for your photoshoot and give your photos room to breath. Being a DIY home photography studio, you’re limited to what rooms you’ve got. If there are no white walls in your house or they aren’t easily accessible, you can drape a white bed sheet from the ceiling to the floor. If a white backdrop isn’t your thing, try and pick a location that has complimentary colours and isn’t too cluttered.
Check the Lighting
Natural light is always better for taking photos, but watch out for direct sunlight. Setting up your DIY home photography studio in front of a window can help get light into your photoshoot but will likely result in harsh, unflattering angles if the light is too strong. Avoid doing your photoshoot mid-day, instead, try it a mid-morning or early evening when your room is still light but not dazzling. If you have no sources of natural light don’t be tempted to use overhead lighting as it will cast unflattering shadows under your eyes and nose. If overhead light is unavoidable use the flash on your camera to balance out the effect.
Get the Lamps Out
If the light in your chosen location isn’t ideal, use desk lamps that have domed shades to point in areas you want to focus light. If you don’t already have one you can buy them cheap from home discount stores and they don’t need to be fancy. If you can afford it, buy more than one so you can control the lighting better from multiple angles. Choose bulbs based on the lighting affect you want. LED bulbs give a whiter light, but yellow light can give a warmer glow.
Set Up Your Tripod
You don’t need a tripod to take pictures, but they can be bought cheap online and make taking photos easier. If you don’t have a tripod and don’t want to buy one you can prop up your camera or phone using whatever you have available. A stack of books on a table, an upside-down shoe with the heel as a dock, lots of blue-tac – just check that it won’t fall over when you try to balance it. Your photos will look better if your camera is eye-level or above, so get creative with your makeshift tripod.
Check Your Settings
Whether you’re using a camera or your phone, make sure you check your settings so they’re optimised. You shouldn’t use the low-resolution front-facing camera on the iPhone, instead, use the higher quality camera on the back. Always shoot horizontally. Make sure the Grid feature is turned on to help with composition. Don’t zoom in because it lowers the quality of the shot and you can always crop the photo later. Don’t use the flash if you don’t need to as this will overexpose your photos. Learn how to use the Exposure and HRD features on your phone.
Set a Timer
Most phones and cameras will have a self-timer setting and this is your best friend. Set the timer for as long as you need to press the shutter button and get yourself into position. The further you are from the camera the more time you’ll need but don’t give yourself so much time that you’re waiting awkwardly and you’re not looking natural. Once you’ve set up your shot exactly how you want it to look, hit the timer and run into a place. This is the most challenging part of having a DIY home photography studio, as you only have yourself to do the running back and forth. If this puts you off you can buy wireless handheld remotes that do it all for you and can be disguised in the photo.
Practice Your Poses
Posing can be difficult, especially if you’re not used to it. Practising poses will get you more comfortable in front of the camera. Try out different angles and pick the one that flatters you best. Some people get nervous and force smiles that end up looking fake, or don’t smile enough and look grumpy. Practice smiling naturally for the best selfies. Hold your shoulders back and check your posture, but make sure you stay relaxed so you’re not too rigid. Doing something with your hands can make you feel less awkward than having them by your side. Having props like flowers, a cup of coffee, a handbag, or just putting your hands in your pockets can be an effective way of getting a more natural shot. Most importantly, have fun! Nobody will ever see the bad photos, so don’t be afraid to try different poses.
Take lots of photos. Keep going until you’ve hit every facial expression, every angle, every pose. Use burst mode to continuously capture photos while you transition from one to the other. The more selfies you take, the more you have to choose from and you might find the poses you thought would work didn’t and poses you tried at the moment make you look amazing. Check the photos you’ve taken regularly so you can tweak certain poses that aren’t quite right. Once you’re finished, go through and delete all the photos you don’t like and keep the best ones. Be ruthless and only pick the best.
Edit Your Photos
Having a DIY home photography studio will give you the photos, but there’s still work to be done to get that perfect Instagram selfie. Most Instagram photos will be edited, no matter how pretty or in shape the model is. You don’t want to over-edit or make the photos seem fake, but small tweaks in lighting, colour and contrast can enhance your photos. Make sure to zoom and crop any distracting background out, and tweak the composition. If you’re using a phone, shooting in square mode can reduce the editing time as it’ll be Insta-ready right away. Using apps are the best way to edit your photos and most will have a variety of functions that give you an all-around photo improvement. Try Tadaa for some decent free editing features or VSCO and A Color Story for some premium Insta-inspired filters.
At Inspire Photo we believe in developing your own individual skills and knowledge, with creativity and passion at the heart of who we are and what we offer. For more photography tips, get in touch with us today! Give us a call on 0800 061 4015 to find out more information. Or, you can fill out our online contact form and a member of the team will get in touch.