Setting Up A Home Studio Photo Session

Setting Up A Home Studio Photo Session By BreAna L. Cannon – Academy of Photography member   There are a lot of videos and tutorials out there on setting up […]

Setting Up A Home Studio Photo Session


BreAna L. Cannon – Academy of Photography member


There are a lot of videos and tutorials out there on setting up a home studio. Many of these are great and provide a whole lot of good information. Many will give you options on getting the right lighting and other equipment to get you started. I would like to take this one step further. Assuming you now have your studio set up, now what? Here I will give you some ideas on how to prepare, for when you start doing photo sessions.


One of the most important things you can do right away, is get to know your studio. Learn how your lights perform in your space. Find the best placement and angles for them to give you the best results. Figure out the limitations of your equipment. A great way to do this is by doing as many practice sessions as you can. You can use willing family for your models. This is a great way for them to have their portraits done and help you along the way. I would also recommend, you treat every practice session as if you were photographing a paying client. This will not only help raise your level of professionalism, but also help you get used to interacting with clients. What is a better way than by practicing on a family member or friend, who you already feel comfortable with?

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After you book a session, try to learn a little about your client and what type of shoot they are looking for. I prefer to speak with the client prior to the session, either in person or secondly, a phone meeting. If you are unable to do either, request to send a short questionnaire to the client, asking things such as, What is their vision for the session? What type of wardrobe they will be wearing? Are there any ideas for looks (poses) that they have in mind? Will the photos be for display, a gift (and for who), etc? Aside from helping you prepare your session, this will also give you something to talk about at the beginning of the session to help build a rapport.


Remember, in a photo session, you are working for the client and you should be open to their ideas. You can always suggest alternatives if necessary and most of the time, they will agree with your suggestions. Assure them that even though you may make other suggestions, their ideas have merit. Never talk down to a client and always try to keep them happy. A happy client is more likely not only to return, but also tell others about their experience.

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The day of the session, have all of your equipment checked and ready before client arrives. Make sure you have fresh batteries in your camera, triggers and speedlights, if you are using them. Make sure your camera settings are already set for proper exposure by using someone to sit in for the client before the session (again, you can use a family member to do this if you don’t have an assistant). Clean your glass whether you think it needs it or not. Make sure your lights are all set up and firing. If you are using continuous lighting, make sure they are working properly. Have your on-unit modifiers (soft-boxes,  umbrellas, etc.) all set up and ready to be exchanged as needed. If you are going to be tethered, have your cable already attached to your screen and test it before your session. If you will be using props, reflectors, etc. have them readily accessible. If you will be using any release forms, contracts or other paperwork make sure you know right where they are and you have a pen so they are ready to be signed.


Be sure to provide a neat and clean atmosphere. First impressions are very important. When someone walks into your studio, they will see it as a reflection of you and your work. Have everything organized and uncluttered. Be sure you don’t have any wires or cables running through your shooting area. Try to have samples of your best work available, either in a portfolio book or on the wall. If you have space for a small sitting area, two small, but comfortable chairs and an end table set between them work great. The table will also be a great place for you to display your portfolio book. You should also provide a place for your client to change and use the restroom. I also suggest, providing at least a pitcher of cold water and cups. I know many of the more established studios offer wine to help loosen up clients. I personally wouldn’t recommend this, especially if your client or their companion is driving.

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During the session, remember to keep the conversation going. Compliments and encouragement are always nice. You can use some of the things you learned in your initial interview. If you are photographing a parent, you can ask about their kids. Try to find common ground. You can make conversation out of pretty much anything that won’t interfere with you directing your clients posing and movements. If you get your client to laugh spontaneously, it can make a great photo. You always want your client to feel relaxed and comfortable. When a subject is feeling uncomfortable or tense, it WILL show in the photos.


Lastly, after the session, be prepared to accept payment and make change if necessary. You might want to consider a smart phone credit card reader such as Square. You can find them in the Google play for android or the app store for apple. These readers give you the option of sending a receipt to the client via email or text and keeps a record of your transactions. They also broaden your options for payments. If you will be using any of the images from the session on a website, Facebook page etc, for promotion or any other reason, always get permission and it is also advisable to have the client sign a model release. This will give some protection to both you and your client. If you do not have or do not know how to write up a model release, Christian has provided one on the AOP website, you can modify to your own needs.

I am also including a link to a YouTube video for a DIY project I enjoyed. It is actually for a scrim, but it can also be made into a large standing reflector. In the video, there is no stand, but I plan on making a stand so it can be used without help from a second person.


I hope you have enjoyed this article and found it enjoyable as well as informative. Hopefully you have found some tips to help get you on your way on this wonderful road of Home Studio Photography. Until next time…..


BreAna L Cannon


LunaStar Photographic Memories



DIY 4’x6′ interchangeable surface reflector.


One of the items I wanted to get for my studio was a large free standing reflector. After looking around for awhile, the least expensive one I could find was $200. Since I didn’t have the funds for one, I just added it to my wish list. One day by chance, I came across a YouTube video by Kevin Kubota, for a DIY scrim. With a couple of 50% off coupons from JoAnn Fabrics, I made the scrim for under $20 total. I then had the idea, since the diffuser comes off of the frame, why not use the frame for a reflector as well. I looked on the JoAnn Fabrics website and found a fabric called silver foil pleather for $14.99/yd. To make the reflector, you will need 2 yds. of the fabric. FIY, JoAnn’s often sends out 50% coupons, so just join their mailing list if you want one when they send them out (I nor any family member is  in no way, shape or form, associated with JoAnn Fabrics. It is just where I purchased my fabric). To see the full instructions on how to make the scrim, follow the link below to see Kevin’s video. To make the reflector, just substitute the silver pleather for the ripstop nylon. The pleather also comes in other colors, such as gold. I would also like to thank Kevin Kubota for his video which is inspiring me to make this reflector face.


Disclaimer: I have not actually made the reflector face yet, it is just an idea at this time. I do plan on doing it within the next couple of weeks of this writing. If anyone tries it, please let me know how it works. Thanks)




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