Even a very small studio can be the setting for some great images. Especially if you dare to push some boundaries and do the fun, the weird, and the unusually interesting.
photography-business-requires-hustle-it-also-requires-exploring-outside-your-comfort-zone-in-order-to-deal-with-the-common-constraints-like-small-studio-spaces">Building a photography business requires hustle. It also requires exploring outside your comfort zone in order to deal with the common constraints. Like small studio spaces.
Having your own studio is every photographer’s dream. And, if you’re like any photographer, you may be guilty of spending excessive amounts of time visualizing the kind of studio you’ll own. But, as easy as it is conceptualizing your dream studio, it takes a lot of hard work to realize it. You may have to start working in a smaller corner right in your tiny apartment as you begin to hustle and build your photography business. And, that’s totally fine. We all have to start somewhere.
Image via Stock-Asso.
Given that it’s World Creativity and Innovation Day, perhaps now is a good time to ask, How do you keep it fresh when you have a tiny home studio? How do you keep creating images that sell, images that connect with the audience, when you’re working with limited space? Well, we got you.
Think of How You’d Normally Shoot, and Do the Exact Opposite
When shooting in restricted spaces, you’ll need to think outside the box. Image via Roman Samborskyi.
This is probably one of the most challenging, confusing, yet most inexpensive and space-efficient tips we’ve got. Let’s say you’re doing a lifestyle shoot. If you’d normally shoot in public spaces (like parks), but have to shift to a home studio setup, think of how you’d shoot when you’re at the park. You’re most likely maximizing the space, you’re capitalizing on nature given it’s your set, and you’re encouraging your models to be free and open with their poses.
Now, with your tiny home studio, try and do the exact opposite. Instruct your models to be closer to one another and be a bit prim with their poses. Find a spot in your apartment where it’s best to do lifestyle shoots. Minimize the fixtures in that area and style it without losing life in the set. The idea is to let your current space—in this case, your apartment—encourage you to think outside the box.
Consider Existing Fabric for Backdrops
Consider using household items as a backdrop. Image via ellinnur bakarudin.
Tiny home studio means tiny storage space. And, when you don’t have a lot of storage, you have to be smart with the props and other items you purchase, like backdrops. So, before you even purchase one, rummage around your entire apartment and look for clothing items and similar materials large enough to be a creative backdrop. Perhaps you have a massive rug in your living room. Or, you can get creative and sew your pastel-colored towels together—big stitches so you can easily remove it once you’re done with the shoot. If you want to start simple, find a good, thick blanket and tack it on the wall. This way you won’t have to deal with backdrop rolls that require storage space.
Choose Furniture That Converts
Let’s say you’re shopping for furniture after you finally decided to dedicate a space in your apartment for your tiny home studio. One wise move is to shop for convertible furniture. Think sofa beds and expanding tables. Shopping for fixtures and furniture can be expensive. Aside from the fact that you need to be smart with what you put inside a small space, you also need to be smart with how you spend money building a photography business. With convertible furniture, you’ll have more ways of playing with it during your shoot.
Borrow Items from Friends
You may also want to consider borrowing items from your friends instead of purchasing them for yourself. If you want a flower wall backdrop, yes, you can buy one. But, there might not be a storage space for it in your small space. If you know friends who have flower wall backdrops, perhaps someone who just used one during their wedding, consider borrowing it. Bottom line with this tip is, don’t ever let the lack of space stop you from having the kind of shoot you want. Just because you don’t have enough storage space for your props doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have props. Keep making fun and creative photos by borrowing items from your friends.
Be Acquainted with the Natural Light in Your Space
Become friends with the natural light in your space. Image via pym.2p.
If you want to keep things fresh and fun, even when you have limited space, you have to be acquainted with the natural light in your space. This will help you create amazing photos without having to use bulky umbrellas and softboxes. While those are helpful, when you have limited space, they might just get in the way of a good photo shoot. So, become friends with your natural light. Know which room in your apartment has the best natural light or has the kind of natural light you need—for example, which room has that afternoon sunlight for the best shadow effects. The more you pay attention to your lighting, the more ideas you’ll come up with for photo shoots without worrying about lighting kits.
Use Unusual Props and Décor
For props, use disposable (or edible) items. Image via Natalia Lisovskaya.
Let’s go back to the prop storage space. Aside from backdrops, you’ll be using a lot of props and they need to be stored properly. Unless, of course, you want them scattered around your apartment. To solve this problem without limiting what you can do with your shoots—be it lifestyle photography, portraits, or pretty much any kind—consider using unusual props.
Don’t worry, it’s 2021. People are more open to unusual and fun ideas. Think real fruits or dried plants, things you can dispose of (or with fruits, consume) right after. With this tip, you’d want to pay more attention to color. If you’re shooting portrait and using fruits as props, be sure the colors captured in your frame match.
Find Small Items That Can Add Drama
If you feel like it’s time to add new props, consider items that don’t just help decorate your tiny studio. Go for items that bring more drama and life. Go for items that you can use in different themes for different shoots. If repainting walls is an option, maybe you can get someone to do a nice, abstract mural backdrop. If you need baby steps, maybe you can buy a neon light décor that can add flair to your shoots. Keep in mind, creativity isn’t all about big things. In fact, it’s about letting a constraint bring the fun and unique ideas out of you.
Shoot from a Unique Angle
Find a unique angle to shoot from. Image via Vasyliuk.
Speaking of unique, consider shooting from a unique angle. This one you can definitely do no matter how small the space. Similar to doing the opposite of the way you’d normally do a shoot, think of how you’d normally take a photo when shooting, say, portraits. And then, think of a different, maybe even odd angle to shoot from. Not only will this help you create interesting images, this will also encourage you to keep thinking outside the box.
Plan Your Shoots and Plan Them Well
This may sound plain and simple, but when you have limited space, planning your shoots becomes even more important. With small spaces, you cannot just have one photo shoot after another. You’ll need time to clear the space, organize your things, store items away—basically, there’s a lot that needs to be done. That said, planning ahead helps you achieve a more smooth-sailing shoot, in a clean and organized environment, that is your small apartment. Not to mention, planning also helps you think of the kind of fun you’d want to bring to the set.
Utilize Items You Already Have for Props
Sometimes, we overthink props. Mainly because they’re these playful items we add in the set to complete the whole look. If you’re feeling sick and tired of the props you’re using, if it feels like those are the only items you’ve used in the past few months, it may be time to clear the room and start fresh.
But, instead of shopping for new items, use non-special items lying around your house. Things you never thought of using as props. Got tons of old books and magazines? Stack them together, but instead of showing the spine, show the opposite side. Got a bunch of vases? Think of them as Legos and see how they can incorporate each other. When trying to keep things fresh, sometimes, it’s all about keeping the old and making them look new.
Do the Kind of Shoots That Match the Space You Have
With small spaces, consider a minimalist approach. Image via Kate Aedon.
Next tip is to do shoots that match the space you have. Given that you have limited space, perhaps consider minimalism. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t do lifestyle shoots or family shoots ever again until you can afford your own studio. But, this helps you grow as a photographer. When you hear the phrase “minimalist family photoshoot,” what comes to mind? By allowing yourself to adapt to what’s available to you, no matter how small the space is, you’re letting yourself grow. And yes, this also means you’re letting yourself develop a fresh and new approach to usual shoots.
Shoot Vertically and Do the Necessary Cropping on Your Computer
This is probably one of the oldest tricks in the book for small photography studios, but it still works like a charm. While it’s nice to shoot horizontally or in landscape orientation, when you have limited space, you might want to reconsider vertical or portrait orientation. This way, you won’t need much floor area and also won’t compromise the images you create. Always know that you can do the necessary cropping on your computer. Landscape may be the usual way to go, but it’s important to know that constraints like this exist to encourage photographers to “explore the other side,” if that makes sense. So, feel free to be innovative with vertical shots and fun cropping.
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Cover image via Vinicius C.
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