How to Set Up a Home Photography Studio for Still Life

I have the pleasure of knowing and working with a lot of creative people. Those who have their own businesses creating, making and teaching a whole host of beautiful crafts, everything from floristry to jewellery making. For many creatives (especially those who sell their pieces), having a home photography studio is invaluable. Being able to beautifully showcase their work, both on their website and across social media is invaluable.

So, here I will share with you how to set up a simple Home Photography Studio for Still Life, no matter how much/little space you have! I will show you how to create a space to achieve beautiful photographs, with very minimal equipment!

When I talk about still life, for the sake of this post, I am not including high end product photography (perfume etc) as that is a different kettle of fish. I am talking about natural products, flowers, food and artisan crafts (pottery and the like).

This post will get you started with knowing where to set up your mini photography studio. It will also recommend the best lighting with a few ideas and examples thrown in to get your inspiration flowing.

This post is just about how to set up your studio, another post with tips on how to style a still life/product photograph will be coming soon.

What You Need

Here is my list of essentials to get going, you can get yourself going with great photography at home with very little…

  • A camera or camera phone (obviously it helps to have a good quality of camera but you can work with most cameras these days and get a suitable photograph).
  • Space next to a bright window (not direct sunlight)
  • Some card, material or anything to use as a suitable background (that will compliment your still life/product)
  • Masking tape (easiest as it won’t ruin walls or anything else you stick it to).
  • White card or board to use as a reflector.

and thats it, honestly, a lot of time (well, all of the time) photography is more about the light available and how you use it, not what camera you are using.

Getting Started

Assuming the objects you are photographing aren’t huge, all you need is a little space by a relatively bright window. Ideally you will be able to be level with the windowsill and be right up next to it. You can use anything you have as a base… a table, chair or even the floor (if your window goes down that far). Ideally you will have a good wall or solid object to use as the background… a wall, door or unit will be perfect.

Lighting Your Home Studio Space

Natural light is the best for your still life (product photography can be a bit different but if you have a natural product then natural light is perfect), this is because colours will appear correctly, showing off your flowers/food/artwork in the best light (literally speaking). The best thing about this news is that natural light is free (it may seem short supply in the UK at times but we can still work with dark days and a good camera) so no need to buy expensive lighting equipment, you can create everything you need with a table (or chair, box or anything else you have available) placed next to a good sized window.

Reflecting light with a white piece of card will help lift any dark shadows. Doing this will allow you to soften and balance the darker side of your still life set up .

NOTE: Make sure you turn off any other lighting in the room that may clash with your natural light.

Below are some examples of what I shot on the two very simple studio set ups in my house. I used only natural light (grey and sunny days) and a few different background colours.

The Natural Look…

The Bright Colours…

Setting Up Your Background

Your background can be anything you want, just make sure it compliments the look and feel you are going for. When using a single piece of paper for the background then use a little masking tape to stick it to the wall and base. Make sure you create a gentle, even and smooth curve to keep the light as balanced as possible. You also want to avoid shadows or creases on the paper.

If you Don’t Have the Space…

If you don’t have a space by a window to set up something substantial, then using any object placed by a window can provide a suitable base for a small object to be photographed on. Both of the photos below were taken without the use of a reflector. When you don’t bounce the light back it creates a more moody and atmospheric feel to the photograph.

Thank you for reading, I hope this helps you take some fantastic photos at home!

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