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Living Room Photo Studio: What I’m Makin Monday

I’m the only person I know with an indoor photo studio solely for the purpose of photographing my child. Maybe I’m a little nuts, but I call it a hobby. And it keeps me out of trouble. …Sorta.

Since the beginning of this year I’ve been trying all sorts of experimenting with photography, mostly because of my 365 project. A couple nights a week I get home when it’s real late so if I’ve forgotten to take a photo earlier then I’m forced to take one at home. There wasn’t a lot of space in my house, or many photogenic places to take pictures. I debated getting a speedlight to use outdoors, but decided that’s not what I really need, and my money could be better spent on a studio. I had seen a post on Paint the Moon’s blog about her indoor photo studio and it got me thinking… Maybe I could do that, but cheaper.

First I rearranged my living room. I moved my wrap-around couch that was in the middle of the room so that it backed up against the far wall. This opened up about 13 or so feet back for me to shoot. So now I had the room, I just needed the equipment. I was determined to do this as affordable as possible. Initially I wanted to make my own background stand with PVC pipe, but the work involved in getting it, and cutting it, I could make it for $20 or so, but all of the work involved wasn’t worth the $30 savings to me. So I looked into buying a stand. I could get one for about $40 with no backdrops, or I could get one with backdrops and lights and the stand for $140 plus free shipping on Amazon. I decided I’d need a backdrop and each one would cost me $20 separately so it would be $80 for the stand, and two backdrops. Why not just splurge and get the whole thing for $60 more?

It seemed logical to me so I bought it.

While I finished rearranging my living room while i waited for it to arrive. My husband was just thrilled I was cleaning and getting rid of stuff, he didn’t care that I was turning the living room into a studio.

Before it arrived I searched for a fake-wood floor. Everything I found online was super expensive for something that was like 5×6 feet. Things that look like giant mouse pads sell for about $75+ and I wanted something less. I searched on craigslist for laminate flooring, but couldn’t find what I was looking for. I went to Home Depot and a flooring guy helped me, but sensed my disappointment when I couldn’t find anything under $40. He asked me what I needed the flooring for and gave me a strange look when I told him it was for taking pictures of my daughter. I showed him a photo example of what I was doing.

“Couldn’t you just take her outside, put her in a patch of flowers and take pictures there?”

Yes, but that won’t work at 10 o’ clock at night or on rainy days. Men. They just don’t get it. I thought.

I went to the trim section of Home Depot and got an 8 foot long, thick, pretty floor trim and some clamps to hold everything together. The clamps were $1 each, and I got 5 of them.

The next day I went to another Home Depot and found a 6×8 roll up vinyl floor for $21! I was stoked! This was perfect and the best deal I had found ANYWHERE. The best part is it rolls up, so it’s easy to stow away when I’m not using it… My husband’s only requirement with all of this stuff.

Some friends of ours came over after the rest of the studio arrived so I got to practice with her and her baby, and of course Lil’ J.

It took me a little while to get used to the lights, and I’m still learning but I’m getting better every day.

I have a bunch of old fabric around that I decided to keep to use as backdrops, but the annoying thing is keeping them ironed, and ironing that much fabric is a pain. I can edit out wrinkles in photoshop, but that’s a pain too. Then a twitter friend gave me a tip about fleece fabric… No wrinkles! And if there is a crease, its’ easy to pull it straight with the clamps.

I printed some 40% off coupons and headed to Hancock Fabrics and Hobby Lobby to get some fleece. So far I just got purple, pink and grey but I’m keeping my eye out for more sales so I can get some more fabric. I get 2 yards of each, which are about 60in wide, and it’s more than enough for a backdrop for Lil’ J, and others if they’re shorter or sitting. But who are we kidding–Lil’ J is my only subject right now. I got each piece of fabric for under $10…Also a great deal. I may eventually invest in some seamless backdrop paper, which is essentially what you’re suppose to use for things like this, but for now, I was looking for something affordable that works.

Overall I’m happy with what I’ve managed to pull together. It makes for better nighttime or rainy day photos, and it makes for less mess-house photos (I hope). It also makes it look like I have painted walls, which I don’t so that’s kind of cool. Anyway, this was all under $200, which I think is a rockin deal. The great thing is everything rolls/folds up into its own little corner and now Lil’ J has a bigger area to play during the day. So it’s a double bonus.

I have no desire to start a photography business at this point in time. I think there’s enough of those out there right now, and a lot of not so good ones. I’d like to know I’m REALLY GOOD before I start charging. Plus, it’s fun knowing I’m doing this for my family and myself. I worry if I tried to do it more professionally the work would take the fun out of it, and I’m having a blast. More on these thoughts later.

So what do you think of my set up? Not bad, eh?

Anyway, I just threw this post together for my Makin’ Monday, sorry it’s late. Please excuse my typos as I comb my way back through this. Did you make anything this week? Food? Craft? Anything? Leave a link to your post in the comments!


Mandi says:

Oh I LOVE it! I just bought a Nikon D3000 and love experimenting with it. I’m not sure I want an actual studio area like this, but I do love the idea! If I ever get better I’d love to actually do this as a part-time job, but for now that’s just a dream

{katrina} says:

Can you share the link to the set you bought on Amazon? I’m totally digging this idea and would love to have the tools to re-create it in our home!

Thanks for sharing!

Seana says:

How awesome!!! I may have to steal this idea for myself….I would have never guessed that purple backdrop was fleece!

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Sorry ladies, I whipped this up super fast and forgot that link, I just added it though, it’s up towards the top where I say the price of it!

This is so awesome! I just started doing photography myself and I really enjoy looking at your images. They are wonderful. Thanks for posting that link too!

De Su Mama says:

Great job, Momma!

I have been looking forward to this post! I am also renting, with white walls and not much space, and this idea would greatly improve my ability to shoot in our home. Thank you so much for the idea and helping us {me} realize that a studio can be done, on a budget!

By the way, we bought our dslr. No more coveting 😉 Ya right, who am I kidding!

Vanessa

You did an amazing job!!!

Ashley says:

Love this idea! Thanks for the suggestions!

Maria says:

This is awesome! I wish you lived near me, I’d hire you! LOL

Anonymous says:

this looks awesome! but one question: can you hide the white bar that holds up the backdrop at the bottom? was wondering how it would look.

Wow! Finally I got a website from where I be capable of genuinely get useful facts
concerning my study and knowledge.

Anonymous the “white bar” isn’t a bar to hold up the backdrop, it’s put there intentionally to look like floor trim 🙂 look at the bottom of your walls and you can see what I mean. You can take it away but I think it looks better with it. I may get a smaller one in the future but I like the thick one right now 🙂

Domestica says:

Awesome studio, I love it! I have set up a home studio for my kids and it is tons of fun, if they will actually hold still!

I look forward to more pictures from your studio, and hearing more about your journey.
Amber

Such a great idea! You’re pictures are already amazing, so I can’t wait to see what you’re able to do with a studio 😀

Jenna says:

That is really cool, Jenn! I wondered where you got the snazzy floors and baseboards. Don’t be jealous, but my whole downstairs looks like that! Could be easy for me to set up a photo studio.

Ooooh too late Jenna, I’m jealous!! Just open some windows or get some lights and you’re good to go!

Love your studio, it looks great! I’m in the same process … we have lights and all sorts of goodies, and some infant props. Our son should be here within 3 weeks and I can’t wait to start taking pictures and start my 365 project the day he’s born. I haven’t gotten floor yet I’ll have to stop by home depot! Great post!

karajean says:

Wow! Talk about commitment! That fake wood floor is genius!

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Anonymous says:

GA-REAT idea!!! What did you use a the “white bar?”

Thanks! I bought a baseboard at Home Depot for $8 🙂 it’s 8 feet long.

Mrs. K says:

Nice studio. So when can we come by for family photos 🙂

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De Su Mama says:

i linked your post to my itty bitty blog’s round up today…i hope you don’t mind.

thanks again for the inspiration!

http://www.desumama.com/2011/05/blog-rounds-and-upcoming-series.html

Jennifer says:

Okay…now I totally want to copy you. I’m definitely no photographer, but I’m a wannabe. LOL I love the studio look, but hate paying $$ to get pictures done at Sears. I mentioned your studio to my DH and he didn’t seem to mind the price tag, so i might just copy it. If I do my son’s one year pics (he turned 1 a week ago) then it would cost more to get them done at sears. I’d come out ahead.

I already have whit base boards so I wonder if I could get away with not buying the base board. Do you think the backdrop would look okay with an existing whiteboard or would I need to get one to clamp it down?

I love the purple background! Beautiful and of course…beautiful girl!!

Jennifer says:

Oh and how easy is it to store away? I think if I get it we’ll put it in our office, but there is already a fight for space in there. LOL

I love the ideas. I am a professional photographer with a home studio in my basement. I use foam insulating sheets that are used to insulate walls as backdrops. I spray them with Super 77 spray adhesive and then smooth fabric onto them. I stand them in front of my backdrop stand and attach the top to the stand with clamps. I place a piece of baseboard trim along the bottom. The sheets can be cut to 4×4 size or left 4×8. They are about 3/4 inch thick so they can be stored easily. I put different fabric on both sides so I get two backdrops out of each piece.

Melisa says:

Hey I just opened my studio and have had lots of requests for this type of photo (when I just did tradition backgrounds) So I got online determined to make it myself at half the price as what I looked at on amazon. I had the basic idea that I wanted, the fleece was great to know (thanks for the tip) So I have one to return! I have a very similar set up for my studio like the one you ordered from amazon except mine has a bit more product for the same price! It comes with a green chromekey muslin (which is great for digital backgrounds) 3 bars instead of just the one and an extra mini light! I hope this is helpful for others! Thanks! This is a 148 dollars with free shipping!
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003G9DRPC/ref=ox_sc_act_title_5?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER

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What kind of camera do you own? I am in the process of convincing my husband to just buy a nice camera and some backdrop and lights like this, your pics look great!

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Estelle says:

Wow, your daughter is beautiful! My daughter is ten months old and I feel the same, love to take photos of her and our family, but not ready to take it professional and all the stress associated with it. Love the fleece backdrop, will have to try it out! Thanks for posting

Amy says:

This lays flat easy? Do you have to attach it to anything?

Jennifer says:

I did not attach it to anything. And yes, it lays flat. Not as flat on carpet as it would on say a tile floor. But it still works ok!

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Hi! I’m Jennifer Borget

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I'm a former journalist, and lifelong creator striving to make the world a better place. This is the space where I share my journey in making the most of every day by cherishing our individuality and celebrating our differences.



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