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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> affordable starter studio lighting?
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03/15/2008 11:06:33 AM · #1
I need some pointers. We're moving to Maine. With gas prices going up dh would like me to work out of the home. Working out of the home isn't an option since we have a new baby on the way and we refuse to pay someone else to raise our child.

Anywho, he mentioned starting a studio. First of all it's taken me 2 years to gain some clientel here. I don't have a lot, but what I do have is consistent depending on the season. We've been here for almost 4 years and between homeschoolers and church members I've been able to do things here and there.

We'll have a full unfinished walkout basement in the new house. We don't plan on finishing it for another year or so but it will be wired and have ducting for heat. I don't think there's going to be a lot of room upstairs for a studio so was thinking of setting something up in the basement.

I have no idea what to buy to get started. I've only done on-location shooting and all mostly outdoors. This is a totally new field for me. It's either try to get a studio going, or do medical billing online- which I don't know ANYTHING about LOL.

I've discovered I'll be the only portrait photographer in town- small town of 5k people, everything is 30 to 40 minutes away. It's not a poor town- property taxes are anywhere from 180- 300 a month - we'll be paying 248 a month. Average house appraisales are around 300k and up. The next county they are much lower.

I don't even know where to begin, but dh thinks I should go for it. Thing is, I'm not a studio type person. I love candids and outdoors, I'm not good at "staging" people- well I've had some success OUTSIDE lol.

Any tips, pointers, what to get to get started would be greatly appreciated. The bare minimum is what I'm looking for because money is very tight right now and will be till after closing- which won't be till middle of May.
03/15/2008 11:25:37 AM · #2
Check out two sites:


Both have a great deal of info regarding equipment. Strobist can get you up and running with ONE sb-800 and a few reflectors.

Nikonians has the most in-depth group of how-to people on the net.

Buy or make a few ( three or four) backdrops. They can be hung on just about anything. And for an indoor studio study that one light set up and also think about window lighting ( for day time shots)

Good luck.
03/15/2008 11:28:17 AM · #3
If you wanted to do it real cheap, you could always go the Strobist route with hotshoe flashes mounted off-camera. Three flashes, lightstands, umbrellas, and misc. gear would probably be under $400, especially if you got the flashes off eBay. They won't have the raw power of big studio lights, but they'll work just fine for single person or smaller group portraits. And they have the perk of being highly portable, so you could use them outside or at other locations without much hassle. (Being a broke university student, this is how I did it.)

I've also heard a lot of new-to-studio photogs talk about Alien Bees strobes, which are full-size studio lights, but are of course more expensive. Either way you go, part of the cost you need to consider is how you're going to trigger the strobes - either have cords or a radio system, which will naturally add more expense depending on if you want the pricy PocketWizards or a cheap eBay system.

What you said about not being a studio person and prefering candids, I think there's a lot of potential in that. I tend to think that even in a studio, the best shots aren't "staged" but just happen between the model and the photog. If you get the person comfortable enough and both get wrapped up in what you're doing, you may find that you can still get a natural look, instead of something that's obviously posed. And best of all, you'll get it with good studio lighting.
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