When you make the decision to build an indoor studio, you are creating your very own space to do with what you want for portrait photography. Digital photography has certainly helped to minimize the equipment that you will need for portraits. However, this does not change the fact that you will need certain tools to create the most perfect portraits each and every time someone steps into your studio.
grey mottled photographer’s background cloth via Shutterstock
The Portrait Backdrops
One of the most important tools of the indoor studio will be the backdrop. As you will find, any professional photographer will have numerous different backdrops in order to create the perfect setting for the portrait session. Backdrops can create an extremely formal image for a business portrait or even an extremely casual image for children’s Easter portraits. Of course, backdrops are not cheap, so you will want to choose them carefully or even consider creating your own.
The solid background can easily be created with seamless paper. The paper is available on rolls of 9 feet or 12 feet in width making them easy to transport. They are also available in numerous different colors providing plenty of opportunities. Of course, there is a downside to paper backgrounds. It takes very little for them to be damaged. One misstep and the paper could end up with a big tear. In addition, the paper is only available in solid colors so you will not be able to create much visual interest. Solid papers are great for modern or basic images.
Linen is a choice that many people make for solid backdrops. These fabric backdrops can be much more cost friendly than the painted backgrounds mentioned below and they are available in various colors. The downside would be that the backdrops can get wrinkled very easily so they will need to be stored properly.
Painted backdrops are often favored in the digital photography world because they offer extreme visual interest and a formal elegance to any indoor portrait. If you choose to purchase one of these backdrops, then you will need to be prepared to shell out some big money for them. Painted backdrops on muslin or canvas can cost upwards of $300 each. Of course, they are extremely durable so you can continue using them for years to come as long as the style does not become obsolete.
If you feel that painted backdrops are out of your digital photography budget, then you can create your own background. You will only need a few simple tools: a large piece of canvas, paint in several colors, and sponges. You can use sponges or other materials to apply the paint in an abstract or swirly cloud look.
The backdrop is not the only digital photography tool that you will need for your indoor portrait. You will also need a way to hold that backdrop up. Backdrop stands can range greatly in price and style. Permanent stands will allow you to set up interchangeable backdrops in your studio on a long term basis. Portable stands fold up for easy travel and they include a bar for the backdrop as well as two tripod like devices as legs for the stand.
Large photostudio with lighting equipment via Shutterstock
For indoor studio portrait photography, you will also need to choose the right lighting. Portrait lighting can vary immensely in price and style so you will need to consider how much you are willing to spend on your studio. One of the most versatile options would be incandescent lighting. This type of lighting will give you a nice overall look. You can count on incandescent lighting to always look the same so you can easily set up your camera exposure and leave it the same throughout the studio session.
However, incandescent lighting is not always the optimal option since it can be harsh and glaring. Because incandescent is often more red in color than flash lighting, you will need to consider changing the white balance on your camera to compensate.
Photostudio equipment via Shutterstock
Other Helpful Studio Tools
Thankfully, there are so many advancements in digital photography that you will find a wide variety of tools available to use in your studio. You can fine tune each image that you take to look exactly perfect to capture the image and the personality of the subject. Here are a few of the tools, or gadgets so to speak, that you could make use of in your studio.
Reflectors are actually a helpful tool indoors or outdoors. These reflectors can be used to bounce light from one source to another area. This is a good way to get even illumination without harsh shadows. Reflectors are usually made of Mylar or foam board with an aluminum cover.
When it comes to portrait photography, especially of women and children, you will definitely want to consider diffusers. These diffusers, which fit over flash lighting, will create a softer effect that can provide even skin tones and an avoidance of harsh light.
Umbrellas are often used in studio digital photography. These umbrellas, which are usually made of either a sheer or a reflective material, are design to help trap and diffuse light. Normal umbrellas work to keep the rain out while the studio umbrellas are made to keep light in.
Barn doors are a specialty tool that is used to direct lighting specifically. If you are trying to create dramatic shadows in an image, these small devices can help to do just that by directing the light in the path that you want it to go.
When you make the decision to build your indoor studio, you will want to take special care to choose the right tools for perfect digital photography of people. Of course, the camera will be an important tool, but you will also need backdrops, lighting essentials and other helpful tools and gadgets. With the right tools, you can create portraits that will truly capture the image of each person you choose to photograph and you can do so in the most pleasing manner.