So recently I have received a few emails asking me where to shoot if one does not have a studio and how to better shoot in the homes of clients. So let’s talk about working with what you have. All of the photos below were taken in my studio, but you’d never know that unless you know my work and can recognize my space. Every single one of these photos could have been taken in someone’s home if you know how to spot a space and the right light.
So here are a few tips on how to work with whatever space you have in someone’s home. One caveat: this is assuming you have a decent source of natural light. Since I don’t work with artificial light this is really the only perspective I can speak from.
~Find the light. First and foremost no matter what environment you’re in always look for the light first. Light is the #1 most important thing in any photograph so it should be the deciding factor regarding location inside a home or space. For this reason you should know what direction the house sits in relationship to the sun. You can easily download a compass app to your phone and see where East & West sits. So depending on the time of your shoot, you know where you’re headed in the home.
~Move stuff. If an alarm clock is in your way or if the couch is blocking a fabulous space below a window, move it. Before I got a studio space I never had a client tell me I couldn’t move something in their home. They want beautiful photos and don’t care what you need to do to get them!
~Shoot tight. If the surroundings are not optimal simply shoot tight. Focus on that belly button, the strings on the corset, those long legs, that gorgeous face…etc.
~Shoot near a window. This will provide excellent light and you can use a window in all manners of posing. Have her stand next to it and use that light to glow on her face. Have her stand in front of it and silhouette her. Have her sit below it and allow the light to fall over her.
~Bring stuff. You can always buy large swaths of fabric and throw over that ugly bedspread, or better yet, take that bedspread off and just use the sheets. Toss that fabric over a big framed photo on the wall, shoot tight to get that glamour portrait and use it as a backdrop. If you’re shooting tight and want to glam things up a bit, buy a bouquet of flowers on your way there and put them in her hair or style them near her on the bed for added effect.
~Use your 50mm if you have one. Drop that sucker down to 1.4 or 1.8 and let her rip. Focus on her face or whatever and the rest will be so blurred out you won’t even know what it is.
~Use a reflector. And let me tell you, anything white is a reflector. The other day I had a Face Time chat set up with a client and my room was too dark, even with the lights on. So I had the Face Time screen on half of my computer screen so I could see her and I opened up a blank web page, which is white, on the other half of my computer screen and voila! My whole face lit up. So don’t think you have to invest in some fancy shmancy expensive “official” reflector. I actually don’t like the silver and the gold reflectors because they do their job too well. The effect is too harsh to me so I use polyboard, which you can pick up at any Michaels. I will use a silver or gold reflector if the light is really bad (rainy day) but only if necessary. If you forget yours that day, ask your client if you can borrow a white t-shirt or her white cutting board. No joke! It works!
~Be creative. This is what you’re getting paid for. Work with what you have. I worked in some less than gorgeous homes and I always pulled it off. There is ALWAYS something or somewhere to work.
~Don’t forget about the outdoors. There is usually some place outside of a home that is semi-private. So have her dress sexy, but a bit more covered and go for it.
~Ask a friend. Client doesn’t want to shoot in her home? Use your own or ask a friend or have your client ask a friend if she can borrow her home for an afternoon while they’re at work.
~Work with a local B&B. Tell them if they let you shoot in a room there you’ll photograph all the other spaces in their establishment for free. Win/win!
~Find an abandoned space in a remote area. Problem solved. Bring along a friend to act as a lookout!
These are just a few off the top of my head but you get the idea. The point is, you can make anything work. Don’t go invest in a studio or buy fancy equipment. Test yourself, allow yourself to think outside the box and above all, keep it simple. It’s the easiest thing to do!
Still want more? Then sign up for my upcoming Glamour & Boudoir Photography Workshop!