Thanks to some amazing mentors over the years, I feel confident that I can get good photographs in almost any situation. The simple studio I maintain in my home is no exception. A 15′ x 18′ space with 8′ ceilings and no windows can be a considerable challenge at times. It can also be a great creative inspiration as well.
In my simple studio, I have done everything from high key to low key, simple grey to colorful patterns, very real walls to faking windows. Simple is great for fashion catalog shots, head shots, and more, but a lot of times, my clients want something more. We have hung molecular models from the ceiling and worked some photoshop magic to levitate my subject off the floor. We have blown smoke, lit candles, and flipped tables over to get angry images. Some of my favorite images feature the floor which can add some interesting reflections to the final photograph.
The primary issue with a small space like this is controlling the light needed to create a solid image. Light bounces a lot against these light gray walls and low ceiling. Barn doors, grids, and flags are a mainstay for reining in the light. On the flipside, clients often want to shoot something more risque in natural light. They may not want to shoot in their own home. Finding a location that they are comfortable with doesn’t always pan out. Knowing how to create “natural light” in a windowless room helps out in these situations. I end up creating some amazing images for some wonderful people.
The simple studio forces a situation where I must control the light with an iron fist. It also makes shooting in natural light a fun, relaxing experience. It has empowered me to mix natural and studio lighting for outdoor shoots with more confidence. As small as my simple studio is, it has ultimately been very liberating.