Adapting your in-house photo studio
scaling it up...
Our article on the Swiss Watch and a number of other references to our in-house photography studio has promped a wave of inquiries from readers. Since Dennis Curtin is presenting an elegant presentation on digital photography for us, it seemed only fitting that we share some of our experiences down here in the trenches.
A reader from Cornwall UK, wrote in to ask about larger areas...
Working for a surf company we spend a small fortune
> on product photography, shooting anything from
> wallets to wetsuits, after some reseach I came
> across your article 'Building an in-house photo studio'
> as this is our intension.
> However, going against your advice we are planning to
> go beond a desktop studio and need some advice as
> to the size of the room required to do a shoot
> with standing models and any tips you could offer.
> Thanks for your time.
Scale it up...
If you look at the diagram, use your imagination to scale the scene up. Your backdrop now has to hang from the ceiling, and sweep smoothly out to the floor allowing at least 8 more feet of running space for your models to stand on.
This is where it gets expensive. The sweep backdrop material needs to be sturdy. You can purchase commercially manufactured background sweeps from big photo supply houses, but they get very expensive. You can also purchase background paper in rolls up to ten-feet wide. (Also expensive!) Hubert's studio has a whole rack of different color rolls so they can be unrolled and used as needed.
You can also go to the local floor coverings store and shop for lanolium or vinyl "sheet" flooring. This works superbly and can be painted to suit the color for the shoot. This flooring will be tough and will last a long time. Look for a smooth finish with as little pattern as possible. Don't forget to ask for ends of rolls or close-outs. Many times they'll have the end of a roll which can't be used in construction and they'll sell it very cheaply.
As for the room, it's best if the room can become the "photo studio." If not, then you'll need to roll the backdrop up when not in use.
Here's a test: Put the camera you plan to use on a tripod. Now get the largest object you'll be photographing. Set it up so you can shot the object with lots of space around it. Now, measure the space from camera to subject, and add about 8-feet and that's the floor space you'll be needing.
You could also consider a "portable" studio -- rent a storage space, or some space in a warehouse for a day and carry your backdrop, lighting and equipment to the location for shooting. Have everything you plan to shoot along so once you've got the set up right, you shoot - move in the next subject, then shoot again -- and on and on until closing time. Plan the sessions well, so you'll get all your shooting done that one day.
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