Creating a Home Photography Studio for Fashion Blogging

KellyReillyKellyReilly Posts: 3Member
edited January 2015 in D6x0/D7x0/D8x0
Hi everyone! This is my first time posting to Nikon Rumors. Thanks in advance for any help you can provide! :)

I run a fashion/lifestyle blog, and am looking for ways to shoot outfits and portraits indoors. (Last year, I did it all outside. But I recently moved to Chicago, and simply can't bear the thought of shooting outdoors during the winter! So cold.) The idea is to set up an indoor photography studio, but I'm pretty confused about how to best do that.

I currently have a D610, a 50mm f/1.4 lens, and an old SB-600 speed light. I have a relatively well-lit living room, but that's it. (Three giant windows on one wall.)

I'm clueless. Can anyone get me started? Also, I love my 50mm, but I'm assuming I'll need a different lens considering my living room isn't giant. Thoughts?

Thanks SO much!

Kelly
Post edited by KellyReilly on

Comments

  • jjb930jjb930 Posts: 80Member
    Hi Kelly,

    Welcome to NRF. I can't help you will all of your questions and there are certainly more experienced users that will provide helpful advice. That being said, I think I can provide some basic help.

    The D610 is a wonderful camera and will be great for your goals. Regarding your comment on lenses, the 85mm Nikkor f/1.4 or f/1.8 or 105mm Nikor Macro f/2.8 are two favorable portrait lenses. Some photographers also prefer using the Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 around ~135 to 180mm for really close headshots.

    Regarding the lighting setup, there are MANY options. It will be very helpful for other users to know your budget, as this will significantly influence the conversation and the recommended products. (e.g., are we talking about simply adding a speedlight diffuser or are we going full studio lights?)
    Nikon D800 | Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 | Nikon 50mm f/1.8G | Nikon 85mm f/1.8G | Nikon 105mm f/2.8 VR Macro | Tamron 150-600mm f/ 5-6.3 | Nikon SB700 | Kenko Auto Extension Tube Set | Cactus V6 Transceiver Set | SDMV Speedbox 60 Diffuser | FotoPro T83-C CF Tripod | FotoPro NGC-75 CF Monopod
  • safyresafyre Posts: 113Member
    Hey Kelly,

    I've shot for several fashion bloggers before and the 50mm is still my go to lens. If it's not wide enough due to space contstraints, I'd look into getting a 35mm f/2 (or 1.8 FX if your budget allows) for getting those full body, three quarter, or even half body shots. I'd not recommend anything wider than that since the distortion starts to get a bit more noticeable.

    As for lighting, you mentioned that you have three large windows. How much light comes through them? Ideally, you could just set up a natural light studio by setting a backdrop against the wall and using only light from the window. This would definitely simplify things on your end and will also create much more pleasing blog-type photos than using a regular flash/strobe. If you can get away with using just natural light at ISO 1600 or under, I would say just go with it and save yourself the stress from having to deal with all the extra technicalities of using lights. Fyi, I've used this technique with bloggers I've photographed before and the results were amazing, much more natural and organic feeling than using strobes+modifiers.
  • KellyReillyKellyReilly Posts: 3Member
    Hi Kelly,

    Welcome to NRF. I can't help you will all of your questions and there are certainly more experienced users that will provide helpful advice. That being said, I think I can provide some basic help.

    The D610 is a wonderful camera and will be great for your goals. Regarding your comment on lenses, the 85mm Nikkor f/1.4 or f/1.8 or 105mm Nikor Macro f/2.8 are two favorable portrait lenses. Some photographers also prefer using the Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 around ~135 to 180mm for really close headshots.

    Regarding the lighting setup, there are MANY options. It will be very helpful for other users to know your budget, as this will significantly influence the conversation and the recommended products. (e.g., are we talking about simply adding a speedlight diffuser or are we going full studio lights?)
    Thank you so much for weighing in! SO helpful! :)

    I'm more interested in doing full-body shots, as I typically have to show full outfits.

    I've heard a lot of wonderful things about the 85mm... and recently worked with a photographer who uses one, and couldn't get over how amazing her shots were! It's definitely on my wish list... But since my living room isn't that big, wouldn't it be even more zoomed in than my 50mm?

    In terms of budget, I prefer not to drop thousands, but I'm fine with investing. I run my blog and freelance full-time, so it's important that I have great photography. :) Maybe somewhere around $1,000 (or less)?

    Again, thank you so much!

  • KellyReillyKellyReilly Posts: 3Member
    Hey Kelly,

    I've shot for several fashion bloggers before and the 50mm is still my go to lens. If it's not wide enough due to space contstraints, I'd look into getting a 35mm f/2 (or 1.8 FX if your budget allows) for getting those full body, three quarter, or even half body shots. I'd not recommend anything wider than that since the distortion starts to get a bit more noticeable.

    As for lighting, you mentioned that you have three large windows. How much light comes through them? Ideally, you could just set up a natural light studio by setting a backdrop against the wall and using only light from the window. This would definitely simplify things on your end and will also create much more pleasing blog-type photos than using a regular flash/strobe. If you can get away with using just natural light at ISO 1600 or under, I would say just go with it and save yourself the stress from having to deal with all the extra technicalities of using lights. Fyi, I've used this technique with bloggers I've photographed before and the results were amazing, much more natural and organic feeling than using strobes+modifiers.
    Ah! So helpful. Thank you!!

    Sounds GREAT about the 35mm. I adore my 50mm, and use it so frequently that I don't own any other lenses anymore. When I back up against the windows, I can just about get a full body in there, but the 35mm will probably give me a lot more wiggle room. Thanks!

    I'm an okay amateur photographer using what I currently have, but I know *very* little about lenses, mostly because I've never felt the need to own anything other than my beloved 50mm. (So nice to hear that it's your favorite for fashion blogging photography as well!)

    The 50mm I have is f/1.4... but I rarely shoot at anything below f/3.2 for full-body shots so everything is in focus. Would you say I'd see a significant difference between the $350 35mm f/2 vs the $1,600 35mm f/1.4?

    http://www.amazon.com/Nikon-Wide-Angle-Nikkor-Digital-Cameras/dp/B00005LE72/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1420420073&sr=8-3&keywords=nikkor+35mm+FX

    http://www.amazon.com/Nikon-35mm-Nikkor-Digital-Cameras/dp/B0042X9LB0/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1420420073&sr=8-2&keywords=nikkor+35mm+FX

    In terms of the windows, they're big, but don't provide a TON of light. I definitely think I'll need some extra help from flashes and/or strobes. And yes--very interested in a backdrop. Would you recommend a certain type? I've heard that some people simply use butcher paper.

    Thank you so much for your help! Incredibly helpful. Hope I'm replying correctly!

  • HammieHammie Posts: 258Member
    I would look at the $600 35mm f/1.8.

    Also you should look at a backdrop, as mentioned before. Depending on the size, you should be able to get a stand and backdrop "material" for no more than $200.

    Those two things will get you to where you want for under your $1000 budget.

    Eventually, you may want to invest in lighting since the winter months have shorter daylight timeframes.

    Good luck!
  • KnockKnockKnockKnock Posts: 396Member
    x2 on the 35mm f/1.8 AF-S referenced above. But only if you absolutely need it. If you can get things to fit with your 50, it is more than good enough.

    A couple A-stands and a roll of seamless backdrop paper would be easy and cheap. I tried these, the stands are decent, sturdy. The bag is cheap but good enough if you're not a traveling photographer. Not luxury, but you're not throwing any significant money away: http://amzn.com/B000UE50O2 .

    Backdrop: http://amzn.com/B0002ER2YQ . Last time I got my paper from Adorama, and B&H always had good choices on these if you prefer to support them.

    I'm not positive about this, but you might be able to use your D610's built-in flash to trigger the SB-600. Put the latter closer to your subject and off-camera to the side a bit as fill light, or bounce it off a wall or ceiling. Use your window as primary light. More than you need to know is on strobist.com.

    That's ~$100 and you'll learn what you can do. Get the lens if you need it. You can drop $1K on professional grade stands and a strobe or two, with soft boxes and umbrellas, but that takes space and it might be smarter to get your feet wet and figure out what you need first. Nothing beats the experience of playing with light.

    Enjoy - sounds like a fun occupation you've got there!
    D7100, D60, 35mm f/1.8 DX, 50mm f/1.4, 18-105mm DX, 18-55mm VR II, Sony RX-100 ii
  • The_Other_SteveThe_Other_Steve Posts: 14Member
    Would you say I'd see a significant difference between the $350 35mm f/2 vs the $1,600 35mm f/1.4?
    It depends how you shoot it, but probably not. The fashion bloggers I know typically don't post large files. Same for the agencies that have picked up my stuff. They're doing smaller files, like 800px JPEGs, to Google+, blogger, Instagram, twitter. For all those platforms, you're probably fine using the AF-D. Shoot it at f/4, f/5.6, f/8 and it's probably going to be fine. But it's a question you have to answer for yourself. If you're critical about quality of the photos, then maybe it's worth it. You could always rent both lenses and compare. Lensrentals offers both lenses.
    I definitely think I'll need some extra help from flashes and/or strobes. And yes--very interested in a backdrop.
    If you have a specific look you want to achieve, it's easier to suggest something.

    KnockKnock already recommended the excellent flash & lighting resource Strobist.
    I'm not positive about this, but you might be able to use your D610's built-in flash to trigger the SB-600
    That's correct, you can.
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    edited January 2015


    In terms of the windows, they're big, but don't provide a TON of light. I definitely think I'll need some extra help from flashes and/or strobes. And yes--very interested in a backdrop. Would you recommend a certain type? I've heard that some people simply use butcher paper.

    I would try very hard to avoid flash . The big advantage of nature light is it is well "natural"
    and you can see what you are doing
    with flash you cannot see the effect until afterwards
    I would look simple white reflectors such as Polystyrene Insulation Board
    re backgrounds i would forget curtains, you will always see the creases
    i would invest in proper background paper may a roll of white and one of grey
    Post edited by sevencrossing on
  • Rx4PhotoRx4Photo Posts: 1,200Member
    Hi @KellyReilly and welcome to NR. A couple of ideas come to my mind here with your plans. One, you could try to optimize your naturally lit area by clearing an area so that lighting comes in from the side of the models then having a large reflector on the other side of the model. This reflector can be mounted on a stand or held by an assistant. The limitation with that setup is that you're depending on good quality light on the days you wish to shoot - and of course this requires that you shoot in the daytime.

    Secondly, another option is to buy a backdrop stand system and a simple backdrop. One that I recently bought is the ePhoto Photography Video Backdrop Background Heavy Duty Support Stand with Case for Chromakey or Muslin by ePhotoInc H30 from Amazon.
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005H48SRQ/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
    The original list price was $199, but I bought it for $59.00 on sale.

    Outfit that with a white vinyl backdrophttps://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005SSMSMM/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o04_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    If you want clean, consistent light on your subjects you will probably have to eventually invest in at least one if not two umbrellas and another flash and use the Nikon CLS flash triggering system.

    Thirdly, on a creative note, if you wish to mix things up a bit for your settings you could try visiting 2nd hand and consignment stores to buy props such as chairs, stools, etc.

    Hope this helps. And by the way, pay a visit to Fstoppers dot com and scroll thru for an occasional very good article that could help you.
    D800 | D7000 | Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 | 24-70mm f/2.8 | 70-200mm f/2.8 | 35mm f/1.8G | 85mm f/1.4G | Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art | Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art | Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM | Zeiss 100mm Makro-Planar ZF.2 | Flash controllers: Phottix Odin TTL

  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    The real question in my head is, budget? And, what exactly do you want to accomplish?

    No matter what your end goal is, my suggestion is make absolutely certain you only deliver the very best to your clients. The D610, 50mm f/1.4 will for almost all commercial purposes be quite adequate to begin with.

    But, who are the intended clients? And how are you marketing your wares? For a "Studio" to shoot fashion, about ten to twelve feet of ceiling height is nice and a white "hi key" area makes life easier. Is this what you want? On the other hand, if everything is 3/4 or waist length images, smaller spaces can be utilized.

    Give us some more info, and we can really spend you money....welcome to NRF. Some of us can never be taken too seriously, a fact you know if you have been hanging around here very long.
    Msmoto, mod
  • Rx4PhotoRx4Photo Posts: 1,200Member
    Also remember the distortive differences of these lenses; the 50mm vs the 35mm. The 35mm is an excellent lens to consider adding to your kit and can render slight slimming qualities to your subjects (if desired) when shot from certain angles. Just be aware of close-up headshots as the nose can be rendered a bit more pronounced than desired.
    D800 | D7000 | Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 | 24-70mm f/2.8 | 70-200mm f/2.8 | 35mm f/1.8G | 85mm f/1.4G | Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art | Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art | Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM | Zeiss 100mm Makro-Planar ZF.2 | Flash controllers: Phottix Odin TTL

  • autofocusautofocus Posts: 625Member
    My Livingroom studio. It's gone through significant changes but you get an idea of how much room you may have to work with. This room is 16x20 feet with an 8' ceiling. I use either end depending on what I want to shoot. The backdrop stand you see is a cheapo but works fine. I think it was $60 on eBay a few years ago. The cloth backdrop is a pain. You can't keep the wrinkles out of it. I'm sure you noticed the yellow walls and they can be a pain as well. Would prefer white but my wife says "Tough Luck." I can shoot with an 85mm and get full body but it's tight. Not much room for environment. A 50mm would be no problem. Don't know if this helps but at least you can see the mess you'll encounter. Oh, my wife makes me break it down as soon as I finish a shoot.

    2014Aug24_7679

    DSC_3655
  • FlowtographyBerlinFlowtographyBerlin Posts: 477Member
    But, who are the intended clients? And how are you marketing your wares?
    @msmoto: From what I understand from her first post, she wants to run a fashion blog and hence is her own client.

    +1 for everyone: Maybe it's better to do this the other way around: You tell us what specific look(s) you want to achieve, and then people can tell you what you need to do to get there.

    Asking "I want to take pictures in my living room, what do I need" is like asking "I want to buy clothes, what should I get?".

    So, tell us the look you want, maybe post some example pictures. It's easy to recommend a setup from there.

  • studio460studio460 Posts: 205Member
    I currently have a D610, a 50mm f/1.4 lens, and an old SB-600 speed light. I have a relatively well-lit living room, but that's it.
    Kelly:

    The Nikon D610 and a 50mm lens is great combination for full-length shots, and should cover most of your immediate needs. A wider lens may have you shooting off of your backdrop, whereas a longer lens won't allow you to frame full-length shots in your limited shooting space (though, would be preferred for head-and-shoulders portraits). To start, I think you would be best served by a 9' seamless backdrop. I didn't buy a pre-made backdrop kit, so I can't speak to which ones are good, but I can tell you what I did and steer you in the right direction for your backdrop options. The most popular colors for fashion are:

    • Savage Fashion Gray
    • Savage Smoke Gray
    • Savage Charcoal Gray

    You could also go with a white seamless, but that requires a bit more equipment to photograph "white" (e.g., V-flats, additional lighting, etc.). In your application, I would lean toward Savage Fashion Gray, since it's the lightest of the above and won't require supplemental lighting to photograph "gray."

    I also use my living room as a home studio, and a 9' seamless, combined with a 50mm lens on a full-frame camera works well for full-length shots. For my own use, I've fashioned a backdrop stand using two 8' Manfrotto light stands, a 10' length of electrical conduit from Home Depot, plus two Matthews grip heads:

    image

    But with grip heads being a bit pricey at about $30 each, plus 8'-9' stands about $70 each, you may do better with a backdrop "kit." Here are two kits which seem of reasonable quality ranging from $200-$265:

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/220985-REG/Westcott_9014_Background_Support_System.html

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/556182-REG/Photoflex_DP_SHDBGSPKT_Pro_Duty_Backdrop_Support_Kit.html

    There are also cheaper import brands (e.g., B+H's "Impact" house-brand), which only cost about $100:

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/437786-REG/Impact_3046_Background_Support_System.html

    Whichever one you choose, just make sure that the crossbar is long enough to support 9' seamless rolls.
  • studio460studio460 Posts: 205Member
    edited January 2015
    I actually just read the specs of the backdrop kits I linked, and I wouldn't recommend the Photoflex or the Impact kits since they extend 12'-wide, and don't appear to break down to just 10' (which is what you need). The 12'-wide kits are designed to hold 12'-wide muslin backdrops, and are wider than you need for a 9' roll of seamless paper. Plus, at 12'-wide, they may not even fit in your living room. The Westcott is 10.5' wide which is about right (my homemade Home Depot set-up is only 10' wide, and fits a 9' seamless roll perfectly, and just barely fits in my living room!).
    Post edited by studio460 on
  • studio460studio460 Posts: 205Member
    Here's a shot of my living room home studio including the backdrop:

    image

    On the left, you see my 9' seamless backdrop, hung from a 10' length of 1/2" electrical conduit. I actually used two of my oldest, cheapest stands (Photoflex, un-cushioned stands, about $40 each), with a single 15-lb. sandbag on each base for added stability.
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