Essential Home Studio Gear

(Photo courtesy of B&H Photo)

For serious amateurs and semi-pros, a home studio is almost a must-have. Think of the possibilities. If you need to shoot product, you can. If you need to shoot portraits, you can. The bottom line is having a small studio in your home gives you some flexibility and the great part is, you don’t have to travel far to get there.

In today’s post I’m going to outline a few things that are essential to making your home (or small office) studio a great place to shoot. Most of what I’m going to talk about are items that aren’t very expensive and are pretty easy to come by. I’m somewhat of a minimalist and I’m all for saving some cash when I can. That said, please understand that I’m not going to talk about lighting and grip gear a whole lot here.

Poster Board
This stuff is really great to use for product photography. It’s cheap, can be bought almost anywhere, and it’s easily used to make a seamless background in whatever color you would like. For small products, this stuff is the ticket. Price: A couple of bucks… maybe.

Foam Core
These presentation boards come in a several different sizes and colors and they’re really great to have on hand. They serve a number of purposes. They can be a background, they can be used as a reflector or gobo, or tape a couple of pieces of white foam core together and you have a nice V-Card. I have several 24″x48″ white and black pieces on hand. Price: $5.00 (varies with size)

Seamless Paper
Seamless paper comes in tons of colors and several widths, but if you were only able to get one you should definitely go with white. Why? Because it can be white, gray, or black depending on how you light it. You can also make it into any color that you want by adding gels to your lights. Therefore it makes one of the most versatile pieces of studio gear you can own. You can tape a piece to a wall with gaffers tape, make a custom (DIY) mounting bracket, or you can buy a background support system for about $100.00. A 9’x12yd roll of paper will run you about $45.00. If you take care of it, it’s reusable and therefore you won’t go through it very fast. (Important Tip: If you’re going to use the paper to make a long sweep and you plan on having a model stand on it, make sure you use it on a hard surface. Use it on a soft surface like carpet, stand by for a lot of frustration.)

A Clamps
These little beauties can be picked up from any Home Depot, Lowes, Wal-Mart, or hardware store. They are a simple little clamp that can be used to hold light modifiers in place, hold rolls of paper, hold cloth backgrounds in place, or just about anything else you might need to clamp. Price: $3.00

Justin Clamp
Another piece of gear that I could live without. These things do many duties, but I mainly use them for holding flashes and reflectors. They come with a cold shoe mount and a mini ballhead for your flash, they can be mounted on a lightstand, and they’re strong. With the Justin Clamp I can put a flash just about anywhere I need to, and fell safe that my SBs aren’t going to come crashing down to earth. Price: $55.00

Black Granite Tile
Have you ever seen a product shot of something that had a really nice reflection? Have you wondered how you could do that without Photoshop? This is how. You can get a piece of tile at Home Depot or Lowes. Price: $5.00

So there you have it, some inexpensive gear that will make shooting in a home studio a lot more enjoyable. And just think, if you bought just one of each of the things I talked about, you would have only spend $113.00. How’s that for saving you some cash?


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3 thoughts on “Essential Home Studio Gear

  1. Couple of questions and suggestions…

    How big of a granite tile do you get for $5.00 at Home Depot for your home Studio?

    Can you post a picture of each item for your home studio in another posting? Plus, one of the studio all put together?

  2. Pingback: Essential Home Studio Gear: Part II « Stephen Zeller | Photography

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