Recently I've been thinking a lot about how I can increase the production value of my photos and films. I've come to the conclusion that I need to learn how to set up a small studio and how to use light more efficiently. I need to learn the key aspects/principles of these two things.

So, starting at a very basic level, how do I go about setting up a studio? What kinds of different materials do I need? What kind of lights do I need? Which of these are easy and/or cheaper to make myself, with easily accessible materials, than to buy/use professional equipment?

I'd like to be able to set up the most important/essential stuff myself, preferrably without having to buy a lot of expensive new equipment. So what are the most important things to know? What are some resources you can recommend for further reading? Basically: where do I begin?


1 Answer 1



You will probably want to think about 3 things (assuming you have a camera already!)

I'm concentrating on low-cost options.

  • Background
    • A white-painted wall is a great start
  • Lights
    • A single strobe with a stand and a shoot-through umbrella is a good start here. You will need a way to trigger it - a cable is functional and cheap.
  • Props
    • Something for your subject(s) to sit on really helps. A simple bar stool gives good posture and makes people more comfortable than standing

All of these can be improved / upgraded / build on as time and money allow. Also, once you have a bit of practice under your belt you will start to work out how you would like to improve things: another light, different backgrounds, etc.

I suggest you also check out this question: What equipment is required for a home studio?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Very good answer, but it doesn't quite fit my needs as I do a lot of (mostly even) video work. So static lights are a must. Would reflectors be a better start for this? \$\endgroup\$
    – gburning
    Jan 26, 2012 at 21:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Scott Kelby also had some nice low cost tips in his Digital photography books - for example using common shower curtain to get diffused light etc. \$\endgroup\$
    – Juhele
    Jan 27, 2012 at 9:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @burnso, yes. reflectors give you great flexibility for the money (they're also light and don't break!). I'm not a big on video, though, so I hope someone more experienced can help. \$\endgroup\$
    – AJ Finch
    Jan 27, 2012 at 11:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @burnso - for video you need continuous light, and as far as I know, those are not cheap, so a reflector could probably be a very good idea. \$\endgroup\$
    – Pete
    Jan 29, 2012 at 22:40

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