How To Create A Home Photography Studio On A Budget

at home photography studio diy, photography studio set up, photography studio ideas, at home photography studio ideas, at 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.


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.


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.


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.


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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  • Chelsea
    January 23, 2017 at 10:01 am

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

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 23, 2017 at 1:28 pm

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

  • Ivanna
    January 23, 2017 at 10:02 am

    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.

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 23, 2017 at 1:27 pm

      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!

  • Summer @ Coffee With Summer
    January 23, 2017 at 10:29 am

    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!

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 23, 2017 at 1:27 pm

      Thanks Summer! you have a bunch of awesome equipment from the hubs right?

  • mQs
    January 23, 2017 at 10:49 am

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

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 23, 2017 at 1:26 pm

      Lol same! What other goodies do you have?

  • Courtney Patterson
    January 23, 2017 at 11:04 am

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

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 23, 2017 at 1:26 pm

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

  • Erica
    January 23, 2017 at 11:18 am

    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

    • Erin of Very Erin
      January 23, 2017 at 1:20 pm

      I believe you can buy a WiFi SD card!

      • Rachel Ritlop
        January 23, 2017 at 1:23 pm

        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

  • The Haunted Housewife
    January 23, 2017 at 11:28 am

    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!

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 23, 2017 at 1:24 pm

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

  • LovJas
    January 23, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    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!

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 23, 2017 at 1:25 pm

      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.

  • Aishwarya
    January 23, 2017 at 12:35 pm

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

  • Erin of Very Erin
    January 23, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    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.

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 23, 2017 at 1:26 pm

      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!

  • Megan Campbell
    January 23, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    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!

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 23, 2017 at 1:47 pm

      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?

      • Megan Campbell
        January 23, 2017 at 2:48 pm

        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. 🙂

  • Becky @ Disney in your Day
    January 23, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    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!

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 30, 2017 at 10:54 am

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

  • Cara Owens-Kindly Unspoken
    January 23, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    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!

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 30, 2017 at 10:53 am

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

  • Caitlin
    January 23, 2017 at 2:57 pm

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

    Caitlin, Beauty & Colour

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 30, 2017 at 10:53 am

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

  • Cristina
    January 23, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    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

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 30, 2017 at 10:53 am

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

  • Alissa Carpenter
    January 23, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    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 🙂

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 30, 2017 at 10:52 am

      You’re welcome and thank you!

  • Samantha
    January 23, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    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!

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 30, 2017 at 10:52 am

      Haha it’s a game changer!

  • Helen @ Hel On Heels
    January 23, 2017 at 3:49 pm

    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!

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 30, 2017 at 10:52 am

      Glad it was helpful Helen!

  • Bella B @ xoxoBella
    January 23, 2017 at 5:14 pm

    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.

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 30, 2017 at 10:52 am

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

  • Jenny
    January 23, 2017 at 5:51 pm

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

  • Tilley
    January 23, 2017 at 6:40 pm

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

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 30, 2017 at 10:51 am

      lol those were a game changer!

  • Shelly
    January 23, 2017 at 8:20 pm

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

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 30, 2017 at 10:51 am

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

  • nicole simonetti
    January 23, 2017 at 8:23 pm

    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 //

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 24, 2017 at 8:27 am

      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!

  • Rachel @ STCL
    January 23, 2017 at 9:05 pm

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

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 30, 2017 at 10:51 am

      Glad it was helpful!

  • Alix Maza | A Pint-Sized Life
    January 23, 2017 at 9:06 pm

    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 |

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 30, 2017 at 10:50 am

      That’s perfect! I miss having bay windows ?

  • Silvia Marquez
    January 23, 2017 at 9:49 pm

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

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 30, 2017 at 10:50 am

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

  • Kristin C
    January 23, 2017 at 11:02 pm

    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!!!!!!!

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 30, 2017 at 10:50 am

      They are game changers!

  • Shani Ogden
    January 23, 2017 at 11:28 pm

    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.

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 30, 2017 at 10:50 am

      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
    January 24, 2017 at 12:09 am

    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 |

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 30, 2017 at 10:49 am

      haha as long as it works!

  • Greta Hollar
    January 24, 2017 at 1:04 am

    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 |

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 30, 2017 at 10:49 am

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

  • Abbey Phipps
    January 24, 2017 at 10:36 am

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

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 30, 2017 at 10:49 am

      That’s great Abbey!

  • Shane Prather
    January 24, 2017 at 11:41 am

    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
    January 24, 2017 at 11:50 am

    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 🙂

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 30, 2017 at 10:48 am

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

  • Oksana |
    January 24, 2017 at 12:01 pm

    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. 🙂

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 30, 2017 at 10:48 am

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

  • Sabrina | Students Toolbox
    January 24, 2017 at 12:05 pm

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

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 30, 2017 at 10:47 am

      Thanks for reading Sabrina!

  • KaitHanson
    January 24, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    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!

  • steff @
    January 24, 2017 at 12:31 pm

    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 🙂

  • Grace Hincapie
    January 24, 2017 at 2:26 pm

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

  • Ashley Mason
    January 24, 2017 at 4:48 pm

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

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 30, 2017 at 10:46 am

      Glad they were helpful!

  • Rachel C
    January 24, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    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!

  • Krysta Lynn
    January 24, 2017 at 6:34 pm

    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.

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 30, 2017 at 10:46 am

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

  • Sydney Power
    January 24, 2017 at 11:08 pm

    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!

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 30, 2017 at 10:45 am

      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

  • Ciara - Caffeine and Daydreams
    January 25, 2017 at 11:02 am

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

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 30, 2017 at 10:45 am

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

  • Audrey White
    January 25, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    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!

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 30, 2017 at 10:45 am

      You’re welcome Audrey!

  • Kelsie Kleinmeyer
    January 25, 2017 at 11:15 pm

    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!

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 30, 2017 at 10:45 am

      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!

  • Laura
    January 26, 2017 at 8:07 am

    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

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 30, 2017 at 10:44 am

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

  • Victoria Stacey
    January 27, 2017 at 3:41 pm

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

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 30, 2017 at 10:43 am

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

  • Lindsey at Blog Me Lovely
    January 27, 2017 at 6:08 pm

    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.

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 30, 2017 at 10:43 am

      Thanks Lindsey! I hope the lighting sets help!!

  • Autumn @ Stay gold Autumn
    January 28, 2017 at 9:33 pm

    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!

    • Rachel Ritlop
      January 30, 2017 at 10:43 am

      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
    January 30, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    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!

  • Kayla Rivoli
    January 31, 2017 at 2:41 pm

    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 |

    • Rachel Ritlop
      February 7, 2017 at 4:54 pm

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

  • Taryn
    March 27, 2017 at 9:48 am

    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?

    • Rachel Ritlop
      June 5, 2017 at 5:50 pm

      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
    March 27, 2017 at 3:05 pm

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

    • Rachel Ritlop
      June 5, 2017 at 5:50 pm

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

  • Gawoon
    December 9, 2017 at 10:13 pm

    Ooh this is some great stuff!! Thank you for sharing 🙂 The LimoStudio lighting set has been on my wishlist and I’m hoping to buy one as a birthday gift to myself lol

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