Some of us out there in the world of photography just don’t have the means to afford our own private studio space downtown, as incredible as that would be. But we live in a reality of trying to make ends meet by working one, two or even three jobs to make money to support our families, children, extended family, pets and so on. Unfortunately the days of being irresponsible, living in apartments, paying bills late are long gone…as fun as those days may have been. Now the reality of living in an area so our kids can go to good schools, being able to afford vehicles so that we don’t have to worry about breaking down with those kids in the car, and just simply affording the basics of life as an adult has set in. This is where reality sets in and things get tough.
So if that doesn’t sound like enough, add in the impossible task of trying to afford all of the equipment necessary to actually be able to say you are a professional photographer in the business. I get it, most people use their cell phones to take pictures of everything in their life, so when you buy your first SLR camera and spend $500, it feels like you now own the most expensive camera in the world and your pictures are incredible. And they are, in comparison. But to be a professional, unfortunately you’re not even in the game
until you spend $3000 on your first camera body, and yes that is just the body, it doesn’t come with a lens for that amount. Lenses cost as much as the camera, and there is no magic lens that does it all. If you want to take portraits, that’s one lens. If you want to photograph that beautiful bird you keep seeing in the forrest, that’s another lens. And don’t forget lighting, although digital cameras have come a long way with low light ability, a flash is still necessary. Don’t forget, you have to carry this equipment around somehow, throw in a camera bag big enough to fit these items, that’s another $400. Do you have a computer powerful enough to process and the necessary software? So now that you’ve got a professional grade camera, a few lenses, a flash, a computer to process shots, and something to carry it all in, you should be set. All for about $13,000 up front. How many family photos will you have to take of friends to get that amount of money saved up?…
Although it is very rewarding to take portraits outdoors, that is my preference regardless of having a full-size studio available or not, sometimes you just need a studio space to achieve a look you are going for. You need to be able to control your lighting, you need to be away from wind and cold, or heat. You need zero distractions from your surroundings. So what do you do when you’re a real-life small business and you can’t afford the rent on a studio that probably costs the same as the mortgage on your house? You improvise. You get creative. That’s how you got to be an artist anyways right? You thought outside the box, you tried new things, you used your resources and materials to achieve a stunning result. When you think you need studio space, use those same principles and you’ll be amazed at the results. I got a little deep into discussing the financial side of being a professional photographer, but that’s so you can understand the reality or unrealistic reality of making it as a professional in this business. Studios just aren’t an option for most of us, at least not until we pay off our houses, get our kids out of the house and have no major expenses in life. For me, I’ve got at the very least, 17 years and 6 months until that’s a possibility for even one of those things to change.
Don’t overthink it, if you need a studio space for a particular shoot, think about why you need that space. What factors do you need to control and which are the most important? When you figure that out, start thinking outside the box. Think of what you have at your disposal to achieve these results. Do you need a backdrop for shooting close-ups of an expensive guitar? You would be amazed at what a nice blanket or bed sheet can turn into, and with a few adjustments in Photoshop or Lightroom, you can make your bed sheet unrecognizable as such. The image you saw at the top of this article was taken inside our home. It may not win awards for the best baby portrait ever taken, but we love it, and it was done from start to finish in 30 minutes time, all between bursts of crying and fussy baby moments. More importantly, could you tell that this was taken in my house, in our media room (which was a mess that day), on a big LoveSac bean bag? Probably not. And that is all that really matters.
Although I can use Photoshop to manipulate pictures like anybody else out there, I pride myself on the majority of my work being left in it’s natural state. That probably comes from my beginnings, learning on film. Post production manipulation was limited in comparison, and very time consuming, we’ll get into that another time. I can’t claim that my photos are completely untouched, I don’t think anyone can, especially if they shoot in RAW format like most of us do. But there is no touching up or switching backgrounds happening. The initial set-up of equipment at the time of shooting can go a long ways. As well as choice of props and backdrop. If I tilted the camera one degree up from that angle, you may have seen a pile of blankets on the floor from my daughter playing in this room earlier. But you wouldn’t know that if I didn’t tell you. Anything can be done if you think a little outside the box, do a little extra prep work, and use the creativity that you already have within you. You might be amazed at what you come up with if you put a little of this thought into your artwork. You don’t have to have a full-blown studio to be a professional, and neither does the photographer you choose to use. Be Creative. Think outside of the box. And don’t avoid a professional photographer just because they don’t have a storefront studio. They might just be a little more creative in their work, by nature and by necessity.
–Ronnie Sunker – #ProfessionalPhotographer #HomeStudio #MakingItHappen
Here’s a few other examples of shots done inside our home, spur of the moment, utilizing some creative thinking and set-up with items laying around the house.