How To Create A Home Photography Studio On A Budget

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As a blogger, photos are an important part of the job. I have slowly been upgrading my equipment and recently started getting a lot of questions about the changes. Today, I am going to walk you all through my at home photography studio that I put together over the last year on a budget. These are all the tools I use to bring the blog photos and Instagram photos to life!

The Camera:

I use a Nikon D5300 with built-in Wi-Fi. I can’t stress the built in wifi piece enough. It’s a total game-changer for a few reasons: it’s easy to share and edit the photos since you can download them from your camera to your phone anywhere in seconds. Also, you can take photos by yourself by using a tripod and your phone as the “remote”:

the confused millennial

The reason I am holding my phone in so many photos lately is because I am actually using it to take photos of myself or me and E.

Some posts I’ve done using my DSLR on the tripod and my phone as the remote can be seen in this post on New Years Resolutions and this post on conversations to have before getting engaged.

The other camera I was looking at was the Canon Rebel T6i (also with Wi-Fi). I think the Nikon was cheaper when I got it, but the two are pretty similar so go with whatever your preference is.

I also recently upgraded my lens to the 50 mm f1.8. The “kit lens” (aka the lens that comes with the base of the camera if you buy them together – you can buy just the base) was only an f3.5, which doesn’t allow as much light in or give you that “blown out” look as much in the background.

Tripod:

If your camera has wi-fi you 100% need a tripod so you can do photo shoots by yourself. Otherwise, it’s not as necessary, but definitely still good to have since they are so cheap and easy to store.

Lighting:

The hubs bought me this lighting set which I absolutely love. It’s pretty inexpensive too. I’ve also heard great reviews about this lighting set which is slightly more expensive. They are from the same makers and both sets are easy to use and fold up into a nice compact bag.

I also purchased these LED Daylight light bulbs for around my desk while doing sessions with clients. I always get compliments on how good the lighting is during those. I used to make the mistake of buying the “bright white” bulbs, which cast more of a yellow hue, rather than daylight which is the “white” I was really looking for. If I need a little extra light, I sometimes use these for photo shoots around the house too.

Backdrop:

I purchased this backdrop support system but ultimately returned it since it’s not something I wanted to leave up in my apartment 24/7. However, if I had a home office I would have totally kept it. The support system was easy to set up but it was huge for our apartment. I would recommend measuring out the area you plan to put it (or be prepared to take it down every time, which isn’t hard but I am lazy). When I purchased this frame, I also purchase a

When I purchased this frame, I also purchase a white muslin backdrop (similar to a sheet but really thick and good quality). If you do go this route, you will also need clamps to hold the muslin sheet to the support system. Also if you go this route, you can play around with really fun backdrops like this “wood” one.

E had bought me this collapsible blue/green backdrop because I needed a green screen for something. I loved how easy they were to fold up and pop out so I ended up buying the white/black version as well. I just lean them up against a wall in our apartment, but if you prefer to have a stand to hold it up you can purchase there here.

*Before I bought the white/black version, I actually just threw the white muslin sheet over the green screen and used that as a white background. This was SO easy and the muslin sheet is so thick you couldn’t even tell that it was on top of a fluorescent green.

Reflectors:

While I haven’t purchased these yet, next on my list is to get these reflectors to bounce the light around to where I want it. I want to do some more reading on how to use these before I jump in and overwhelm myself.

Flat lays & surfaces:

All of the counters in my apartment are actually black granite or wood, which doesn’t really scream #bloggergoals as the trend is really all about light and airy. I fake my countertops by using foam boards or construction paper. I either use a solid color or I apply marble adhesive film to the foam board or construction paper. You can purchase adhesive film in different types of marble or woods to create the look you want.

 

Do you have any photography tips or hacks? I would love to hear them in the comments!

Or let me know if you have any questions!

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  • Seriously amazing post! 2017 is the year I really want to learn more photography!! I feel like I don’t know ANYTHING

    • Thanks girl! You have awesome photographers you work with though! If I had that, I wouldnt know anything either haha

  • These are all great ideas. Over the time that I have been blogging I found that you can take really great photos with things you have around the house. A piece of whiteboard and a window does wonders.

    • Agreed! Unfortunately where I moved, we don’t get direct sunlight into our windows! So I had to get the lighting system! otherwise, I was all about the natural light!

  • These are so awesome, Rachel! My makeshift studio is all over the place haha. I can’t wait to move and actually dedicate time to creating a set space for it!

  • mQs

    These are fantastic ideas! My makeshift studio is constantly changing, but usually consists of a piece of white poster board.

  • Courtney Patterson

    One of my goals this year is to work on my photography so these ideas are fantastic. Thanks for the advice and inspiration!

    • You’re welcome! Let me know if you have any follow up questions!

  • Do you know if Wifi is a purchaseable add-on??? I don’t remember if mine has that built in already (I doubt it does, or else I’d know LOL), but man oh man, it sounds like a LIFESAVER.

    Coming Up Roses

    • I believe you can buy a WiFi SD card!

      • Yup you can! I almost went that route, but I’ve read a lot of reviews about it being hit or miss and not very consistent… plus I would lose it probably haha

  • I want the Canon Rebel T6i! Right now I’ve got the T5. I’m in need of an upgrade! And as far as backdrops and stuff, Pinterest has a backdrop stand DIY using PVC that I want to tackle soon!

    • I saw that! I almost linked it in the post too! Let me know if you make it!

  • LovJas

    This is the perfect post for me b/c I want to expand on my photography! I’ll have to check if my camera has Wi-Fi, I hope it does b/c that’ll make editing much easier and more efficient! Definitely will be purchasing some of these items.

    Great post!
    LovJas

    • Honestly it’s a GAME CHANGER with editing! Since I can just use Iphone editing apps rather than photoshop and it only takes a few seconds.

  • This sounds great!! It’s so detailed and perfect! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  • Love this post! Honestly photography is probably the area of blogging where I struggle most. I don’t feel like I’ve made a lot of progress, either.

    • Thanks Erin! I love the photos you do choose though! I think if you don’t have the time to invest in photography right now, then doing it how you do is the way to go! Nothing drives me crazier than a half assed photography attempt that ends up cheapening the look of a blog!

  • Such a great post. As a photographer, I use most if not all of these pieces of equipment. I’ll have to look into your backdrop system as my current one sucks. lol!

    • Awe thank you! That is a total honor coming from a photographer! What is your current system? Also, any tips on getting started with reflectors?

      • I’m pretty big on vflats. Basically they are giant black or white boards and a lot of the time, they are cheaper than a traditional reflector. I use vflats as backdrops and reflectors-it’s like a 2 for 1. 🙂

  • This is an amazing blog post! I always think it’s so helpful to hear exactly what other bloggers use. I’m hoping to upgrade my camera soon, and I’m so thankful you mentioned the Canon option too – because I have a Canon currently all my extra lenses and stuff are for Canon so I’m gonna stick with that. My husband got me an amazing tripod for Christmas last year too. I’m going to look into all of the other things you mentioned as well!

    • So happy it was helpful! Most bloggers I know use the canon i mentioned, I havent heard a single complaint about it!

  • Awesome tips! I think you made a good point that you don’t always have to use a DSLR for everything, and you can still take great photos. Love the marble background you recommended!

    • Thank you! It’s so true, as long as you have good lighting that’s what so much of it comes down to!

  • Caitlin

    Great tips. I need to get a real camera – I only use my iPhone right now!

    Caitlin, Beauty & Colour

    • If you have good lighting, you iphone can be all you need!

  • I wish I’ve read this a few month ago, before buying a pair of professional lighting umbrellas. Haha. I don’t regret buying them anyway.

    Cristina | *janded

    • As long as you can use them, that’s all that matters! haha

  • Alissa Carpenter

    Thanks for breaking this down! I always love your light and airy photos and taking photos is something I struggle with for sure! So many options so little idea of what they all mean 🙂
    http://www.notokthatsokcoach.com

  • Samantha

    I’m totally blown away by the wifi camera! We have an older Nikon, and I’m finally making friends with it, but oh my! Wifi?!?!?! And I can use it with my iPhone?! Sold! Or really, put on the wishlist for now. 🙂 Thanks for the amazing info!

  • This is awesome! Thanks for the great tips and product links. I always get home from my day job so late that I miss the natural lighting for photos. I am definitely going to purchase that lighting kit. Thanks!

  • This is so awesome, I actually have lights that I use for my food pictures they are super helpful since it gets dark so early here.

    • I can imagine! And your lighting/photos are always perfect!

  • So many great ideas! I so need to get my hands on a better camera.

  • Gahhhhh I want to do ALL of this but espeically ordering those light bulbs for my house!

  • Shelly

    I definitely need those lightbulbs in my home – I’m always complaining that our lights are too yellow!

    • Lol it was driving my crazy too! I finally understand the differences after researching a bunch

  • nicole simonetti

    I’ve got a stack of fake ‘countertops’ collecting. my only issue w/ the marble adhesive is that I catch lighting reflections a lot. so, looks like the next step to my at home photo studio is improved lighting. loved that you shared this w/ all your readers! x, nicole // http://www.nicoleeigh.com

    • Same! (about the reflection on the adhesive) I think the reflectors will help with that! which is why I want them, but I still haven’t done enough research!

  • So much awesome gear! I need to invest in some more!

  • I tend to sit in front of my bay windows and use a foam board for a backdrop and a white “deconstructed” box for a reflector!

    Alix | http://www.apintsizedlifeblog.com

  • Love all of these tips for a better photography studio! I’m in desperate need of a tripod!

    • It’s so cheap and easy to store! It was one of my first purchases! definitely recommend!

  • I’m really glad you wrote this post and also shared the links for the products you use. I really like your idea about the natural light light-bulbs. I need to go get some of those ASAP!!!!!!!

  • Shani Ogden

    This is such a perfect post for me right now! I just bought a tripod which I’m super excited to use, but I still want to upgrade my DSLR to one with wi-fi and video capabilities.

    • It’s definitely a game changer! in the mean time i think you can buy a wi-fi adapter attachment or something for your dslr!

  • Anna Hubbard

    This is a really helpful post Rachel! I really want to upgrade my photography equipment since my DSLR was probably first owned by a t-rex (okay it’s not that old, but we’re talking at least 13 years old here), haha! Thanks for all the info!
    -Anna | http://www.fivefootandfabulous.com

  • Greta Hollar

    We’ve turned a corner of our office into a ‘photography studio’ we have a white backdrop up, all the props and camera equipment. I want more backdrops and a reflector!

    Greta | http://www.gretahollar.com

    • That’s awesome! The corner of our living room is our studio haha

  • Abbey Phipps

    Great ideas! We have a huge garage space, so that’s become a studio for our small business, and it’s working really well!

  • Product shots can be so tricky when you don’t have proper lighting or have a cluttered backdrop. Thank you for the extremely helpful guide!

  • Brittany Daoud

    Thank you for sharing, I’ve been trying to upgrade my equipment and build my “home office” for a bit now and it’s slowly but surely coming together 🙂

    • Slow and steady for my home office has been my mantra haha

  • I’m currently working on a post for interior and home decor photography, and one of the biggest tips I always share is that the tripod is far more important than one might think. 🙂

    • Totally agree if you are shooting interiors! But not as necessary for portraits IMO (unless you are photographing yourself haha)

  • I have always wanted to create a home photography studio! Thanks for sharing such an informative post!
    – Sabrina | StudentsToolbox.com

  • I loved this post! I am creating a natural light studio in our garage thanks to a husband who understands my need for a consistent lighting area and workspace. I think I’m going to order that backdrop support system!

  • My good friend just started getting into family photography on the side and this post is exactly what she needs to step it up! Perfect post 🙂

  • definitely will be taking note on these tips!! great post! xoxo

  • Ashley Mason

    I’m definitely going to be using these tips – I’m trying to improve my photography skills!

  • Lighting is my number one most important photography tool! I can manage to get a great shot even with my smartphone if the lighting is good!

  • I currently know zero about photography, but I’m really excited to learn more. I’m hoping to save up to buy a DSLR and then experiment. I think the lighting kit will be the most important thing for me – the lighting in my house is awful.

    • Lighting is really key! even if you just start with your phone! you can’t out filter bad lighting!

  • Sydney Power

    I have all my soft box light set up for filming and they are great! I also love love love my reflector! So helpful! I am hoping to use my white vinyl backdrop more this year!

    • How do you use the reflector? Like what do you set it up against and how do you know where to bounce the light around

  • Thank you so much for this post! Taking good quality photos in my tiny apartment can be a serious struggle !

    • Girl I am so with you! We have a one bedroom apartment, with one main room so I get it!

  • I’ve been starting to get into photography more so thank you for this post! It’s so helpful to see what I might need to invest in!

  • Kelsie Kleinmeyer

    This is awesome! We’ve had a lot of fun with our DSLR and I’m still learning so much. I need to work on a flat lay, and I also think that it would be great to get some things down before baby comes so that I can take awesome photos!

    • Haha i always think about that when i am taking photos (that being photos for future kids) – I always stalk Jillian Harris’ instagram and her baby photos are SO cute!

  • I’ve just purchased a remote and it’s making me SO happy! My next set of needs are good lighting (my apartment is really yellow) and a backdrop.

    For food photography I purchased some white poster board for reflectors and a white canvas (all from the dollar store!) to lay items on. The canvas doesn’t reflect light that much so the focus is on the subject and I can get better angles/light

    • Do it!! I need to play around with reflectors more!

  • Victoria Stacey

    I would LOVE to do this! I want to make a video studio too. Amazing tips!

    • Do it!! All of these stuff can be used for video too

  • Love this. I have been slowly adding things. I have a Canon Rebel T3i but I haven’t used it in forever. And I have a tripod and a wireless remote which is nice. I have been looking at a few different lighting sets as well.

  • I’m actually surprised and impressed at how cheap all of this stuff is! I’m going to have to put it on my a wishlist for myself and set up a studio. I’ve found that I usually don’t do recipe posts in the winter because it can be so hard to find a good day that isn’t moody outside. This would be perfect!

    • The lighting set up is honestly the most important IMO! When we moved and stopped getting natural light into our apartment I pretty much stopped taking pictures until the hubs got me it!

  • Adriana

    I LOVE your tips! It’s so awesome to see how many options are out there to make the best of any lighting situation! I could not agree more that you *need* a good tripod/self timer! It makes such a huge difference!

  • I’ve been using white foam boards for flat lays for years! Such a great tool. I really need to get a tripod. I’m taking a photography class this semester and I can already tell I’d put it to good use!

    Kayla | kaylablogs.com

    • Oh that’s so awesome! I always wanted to take one in college, but never got around to it unfortunately!

  • Taryn

    Are the lighting kits pretty self explanatory on how and where to set the lights up when using them? I am just trying to learn more about photography and I have an 8 month old so I have been using my DSLR to take more photos of him but I would love better lighting to eliminate weird shadows and poor lighting. Would I always use the lights once I have them? How do they hook up to everything? Are they always one or do they flash when you take a picture?

    • Uhm I think they are! You can adjust the heads and umbrellas to get the right angles/shadows you want! To uplevel you would use reflectors! – and i always use my lights! they just plug into a wall and stay on like a lamp!

  • Jamie Fray

    These suggestions are great! I never thought about faking a marble counter with adhesives…that’s brilliant!!!!

    • Thank you! I learned a new trick to soften the look also, top it with wax paper!

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