DIY Photo Studio

I have debated a lot about writing this post, it honestly feels a little like the blind leading the blind.  I don't know much about photography, but I do know what looks good/bad when I go to post pictures.  I also know that when searching "DIY photo studio in your basement" you don't come up with a whole lot (I wonder why?).  So perhaps this post will be helpful to someone...even just one.

It has come to my attention that my God given natural backdrop I've been using all summer/fall is quickly coming to an end is over :(

I've taken pictures in my dining room, they looked like this:

Then, I got a little tired of moving furniture from the basement upstairs (and having random pieces of furniture in my dining room!), so I created this burlap backdrop.  The coloring (and lighting) was always a little off with this.

Then, last summer my basement got too full, so I started dragging furniture outside, and loved the background there.

But, here we are.  I've learned a bit more about photography, and styling, and moving furniture over the past year. Here are my basic needs:

1. Light up the basement like the sun is shining!

2. Make it CHEAP (let's say under $200)!

3. Obviously a spot to get good photographs

4. Neutral and cohesive looking background for all furniture types

5. Something only semi-permanent in case it needs to move, or for next summer when I probably will head back outside.

Now, get ready for this...this is keeping it real.

Here is my basement on any given day:

 Creative explosion.  (and this is only a small section of the basement!)

This post contains affiliate links to help you find what you need.  If you click a link, proceeds will go to supporting this blog :)

Step 1:

Perhaps this is obvious, CLEAR IT OUT! (free)

This doesn't appear very large, but it is about an 8ft section of wall. 

Step 2:

Paint that wall! (also free, I already had white paint)

Step 3:

Address the floor.  So, I was going to do the cool plywood plank floor thing, but when I got to HD, I found this laminate stuff that was only 68 cents a sq.ft. so, I thought it was good.  ($40)

This was 2 boxes worth, and worked just fine. 

Step 4:

Lighting! Professional photography equipment is expensive.  I am not a professional photographer, or anywhere near close, so I opted for two of these: 1000W halogen work-lights with a tripod ($35 each).

And two of these smaller 250W lights ($10 each). These were helpful to place where I had any remaining shadows. UPDATE: These are slightly different than what I bought, but would probably be even more useful with the hanger and clip!

**These lights get hot, so be careful!  Use the guards provided (and common sense) to keep everything safe.

Step 5:

Soften the light a bit. I found these all white umbrellas $16 for 6 at Oriental Trading Co.

I just duct-taped them to the lights so they would stay in place.  This really made a difference in the quality of the lighting.  I just made sure the umbrellas are not touching any of the hot metal.  They are far enough in front of the light that the fabric of the umbrella doesn't get too hot.

Here is the end result!  I came in well under $200 for this set up (even with a couple extra extension cords), and am really happy with the results! The best part is that it was freezing rain outside when I took this last picture, and it didn't make a bit of difference!

Also, set your white balance settings to "tungsten" when using these lights, it will really help you get the right coloring in your pictures.

UPDATE: I've been using this photo studio for the past couple of years and it's worked out great!  I did recently change the flooring to something a little more modern, but otherwise this was a great investment!

Any DIY photo tips to share!?!



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