Studio Quality Portraits Just About Anywhere

A few days back I wrote this post about a few ways photographers can save money. Today I kind of touch on the subject again, but I’m also adding flexibility to the mix. In today’s economy most photographers don’t have the luxury to sit back and wait for clients to walk into our studio for portrait sessions. The big box stores like Sears and Picture People can do this because they have a recognizable name and corporate funding that gives them really great retail space in a ‘walk-in’ market. So what do the REST of us do?

One of the reasons that I love location portraiture is because of the variety and flexibility it offers. I can shoot at someone’s house, the park, the beach, the mountains, the desert, and just about any other place I can think of. Not to mention that my background is almost never the same.

But what if a client wants a studio-type setting for their portraits and you don’t have a studio? Well, you can rent studio space as I mentioned last week or you can bring a studio to their location. For about a $150.00 (give or take) you can get a really nice background support setup with a roll of seamless paper. The one I use I picked up from Calumet for $120 and a 53″ roll of paper is $28. It breaks down completely and fits in a convenient bag that I can take with me wherever I go.

I took the shot above in my garage (of all places) using nothing more than my background support, some white seamless paper, and two flashes. My lighting setup was an SB800 fired into a Lastolite Ezybox softbox and then an SB80DX with a homemade straw grid fired at the background on a stand behind my subject. I placed a white reflector camera right to provide just a little fill on the shadow side of my subject’s face.

Here’s the setup shot:

Very simple, yet very effective. That’s what I’m all about. So if your client is looking for studio shots, this is another way that you can bring the studio to them. Before you head over, make sure they’ve got plenty of space for you to shoot in. Minimum would be around 10×15 feet, larger if you’re shooting more than 1 or 2 people at a time.

Hope you enjoyed the tip, tell all your friends, and don’t forget to back up your photos!


5 thoughts on “Studio Quality Portraits Just About Anywhere

  1. Very nice shot! Sometimes we forget that basic setups can be very impactful. By the way,I was wondering what size Ezybox you used.


  2. Hi Stephen, Thank you for showing us your setup, very nice shot indeed! I was wondering what wireless trigger you are using to make that shot possible? I know there are so many different kinds, but for small budget what do you recommend? and also your reflector support, I have problem making it stay at the angle I want it to be. How do you achieve yours when you are on location alone without assistant? Thank you so much! πŸ™‚

  3. Hi Valerie,

    You’re welcome! I am using the CyberSync transmitter and receiver, made by Paul C. Buff, Inc. The transmitter (model: CST) and receiver (model: CSRB) can be found on the following website: and you can pick up a transmitter and receiver for approx. $130.00. In my opinion, they are just as good as Pocket Wizards and they cost WAY less.

    In this case, I had my reflector propped up on a chair. If I’m somewhere that I don’t have an assistant, I typically use a light stand with a Justin Clamp mounted to an umbrella adapter.

    Hope that helps and have a great day! πŸ™‚


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