Tuesday, May 17, 2011

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 5x6 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 6x8 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!

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