How to create a natural light portrait studio in your garage in under 5 minutes

Tips & Techniques

While I’m a big proponent of using flash in my photography, particularly portraits, there are times when the natural light gives you everything you need without the addition of flash. And sometimes, it’s almost there, but might need a little help from a reflector or two to help wrangle the natural light to fit the look you’re after.

That last bit is the principle used here as Pye Jirsa walks us through building up a home portrait studio in a garage in under 5 minutes. It’s a setup that lets you create some great looking portraits that look like they could have been done in a large studio with a ton of fancy expensive lighting, except, it wasn’t. It was a garage.

With as many people as there are working from home right now, setting up a studio in a garage isn’t a bad idea. Of course, you’ll have to obey all your local guidelines with what parts of your property visitors can enter in different parts of the world, but shooting in a garage with a big open door could be a good compromise that allows you to keep working. Even if you’re not working, using this setup with family is a great way to practice your portraits.

It’s a simple but effective setup that runs on two basic principles. Have a clean background behind your subject (so, either a blank wall or set up a background on a stand) and something to reflect the light flooding into your garage back into your subject’s face to act as a key light. Pye has a wall in his garage that’s being hit directly by sunlight and acting as a light source on his subject from the front, but you can also use a standard 5-in-1 reflector clamped to a light stand, too.

Depending on the angle of your garage door opening relative to the sun, you can also have the sun itself acting as a nice hard hair & rim light on your subject to separate them from the background. But if your door doesn’t see direct sunlight or it’s an overcast day, there’s nothing to stop you having your subject facing the open door and adding a reflector behind them to create that separation, either.

A great use of a small space.

[via ISO1200]

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