Whether you’re taking portraits of your friends or you’ve been commissioned to photography a family – or whether you’re taking your own family photos – working from your own home photo studio can be exceptionally rewarding.
Below we’ve compiled 10 expert tips on how to set up your home photo studio, with fundamental photo ideas for how to light, pose and set up your camera to shoot family photos.
Tip 1: Family portraits
Shooting any group of people is challenging, but photographing families can test even the most experienced professionals. You need to take control and be authoritative and clear about what you want everyone to do, giving you the best chance of getting everybody looking your way and smiling. Take multiple shots to give you the widest possible choice of images – somebody will always be blinking or half-smiling/ half-grimacing.
To inject some energy and fun into proceedings, encourage your subjects to move around and interact with each other. The flash lights will freeze them in action, so you’ll still get sharp shots. Alternatively, split families up into pairs, to capture more intimate portraits.
Tip 2: Home photo studio lighting kits
ontrary to popular belief, you don’t need to spend thousands of pounds to get a decent studio lighting set-up. Both Elinchrom and do good lighting kits for around £500, while Interfit and Lastolite have studio lighting kits starting at around £220 and £300 respectively. All come with two heads plus softboxes or umbrellas, so you can bounce and soften your light for more flattering and professional- looking portraits. The next step is to invest in backdrops; you’ll need a few rolls of different coloured paper, plus two stands and a roller holder.
Tip 3: Hiring a studio
Booking studio space is a good opportunity to take some great portraits in a controlled environment. But ask about ceiling height, or you may struggle to put light stands up high enough to position softboxes. Can you use the studio’s lights and cables? What backdrops are available? Will somebody be on hand to assist? And if you only need a few hours of studio time, ask if they do a half-day or hourly rate, or share the cost.
Tip 4: Photographing children
kids get bored easily, so turn your photo shoot into playtime – bring along favourite toys for them to hold and play with. This occupies them, keeping them still for a few seconds, plus you’ll get some interesting expressions on the little angels’ faces. it’s also essential that mum or dad is on hand so the kids feel comfortable – get them to stand behind you and attract their children’s attention (with silly faces, dancing – whatever it takes!) so they’re looking in your direction.
Tip 5: Basic lighting set-up cheats
If you don’t want a studio set-up, you can also achieve professional-looking portraits with a pair of modern flashguns and attachments. our example portraits were taken using a small portable background and two off-camera flashguns, fired through white brollies.
Tip 6: Shoot in Manual mode
When using manual mode in your home photo studio, a good starting exposure is 1/200 sec at f/9 and iSo200.
Tip 7: Bright lights
Your home photo studio lights dictate how bright or dark your subjects are. increase or decrease light power to brighten or darken them.
Tip 8: Get to know your aperture
Aperture controls depth of field, as well as how much the flash lights your subject. Wider apertures lighten subjects, while narrower apertures make them darker.
Tip 9: Speed freak
Your shutter speed controls ambient light. Set it higher to darken backgrounds, lower to brighten them. Maximum flash sync speeds are 1/200 or 1/250 sec, depending on your camera.
Tip 10: Be sensitive
ISo controls how far the flash light spreads – pump up iSo if subjects (such as groups of people) are far away, or if you want to brighten up backgrounds further.
Win Digital Camera’s Ultimate Guide to Portrait Photography
To celebrate the launch of ‘Portrait Photography‘, the latest instalment in our Digital Camera Special series of beginners guides to photography, we are running a picture-based competition via Facebook. Simply visit our Facebook page and upload your best portraits. We’ll pick 5 of the best portraits posted on our wall and offer these readers an advice clinic as well as a free copy of ‘Portrait Photography’.
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