December 2020 // The How-to Edition

How to Create Impactful Portraits in a Small Studio Space | Shannon K Dougherty


Wall Color - One of the main issues I’ve run into with wall color is that it causes an odd color bounce onto my subject. This can be fixed in your post-production workflow or eliminated beforehand as much as possible. V-flats that are black on one side and white on the other are a huge help depending if I need to eliminate the color bounce from the wall with the black side or fill it more with the white side. Floors - Ugly or damaged floors can put a damper on a shot. I use either a second backdrop that I’ve laid on the ground or snap-together flooring that can be bought at a hardware store. Both options are portable for use in a different space if needed as well.

Low Ceiling - Having a low ceiling when trying to do overhead light can definitely cause issues if your subject is tall. If this is the case I will either move my lighting to more of an angle and have a v-flat on the opposite side to fill in shadows or I will simply just have my subject sit. In addition to having a chair, I will also have stools, a ladder or apple boxes for my subject to sit or lean on. Storage Space - This one was always the trickiest for me since I am naturally someone who likes things to be organized and out of the way. The items I use in my studio are labeled and tucked away in a corner. I also pick items that are multipurpose, such as furniture, and the client wardrobe I have is versatile for different shapes and sizes. I try to pull what I know I am going to use ahead of time before the client arrives so I’m not rearranging my neatly organized gear during their session. I’ve also invested in a chaise lounge for photoshoots that opens up for additional storage.

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