Shooting in the Studio

Typical Studio Scene



For best results shooting in the studio requires as much preparation and pre-planning as location shooting.

Health and Safety

There is a lot of equipment, some of it relatively fragile some of it positively dangerous if mishandled and all of it expensive. Accordingly care must be exercised at all times when in the studio, typical hazards include tripping from trailing cables and the sheer amount of equipment e.g. tripods and supports for lights, sets and, if not a permanent set up, backgrounds. Electrical hazard’s abound and any equipment with frayed or damaged leads should not be used until it can be safely and permanently repaired by a competent individual.

Some of this can be minimised / eliminated but of course at additional expense. If  backgrounds are in a permanent location they can be wall mounted, eliminating stands, using radio triggers instead of cables eliminates more cabling. Taking care to route electrical cables using cable protectors helps avoid damage and trips, ultimately there are support systems which will enable lights to be track mounted on flexible arms from the walls or ceiling thus ensuring floor area is entirely free of hazards.

Lastly brief anyone new to the studio e.g. models on the potential hazards.

Shoot Planning

Firstly what sort of shoot is it ? e.g. portraiture or still life ? This will help determine what sort of lights are best for this purpose. e.g. Tungsten lights whilst providing strong and very directional light also produce immense heat and may not be suitable for some subjects such as food so in this instance low heat continuos florescent lighting might be a better choice.

Having a check ist of the shots required, either poses or list of product shots will help ensure nothing is forgotten and that everything that needs to be covered is done so.

If considering a portrait shoot then briefing the subjects on suitable clothing will pay dividends and will also help to decide if any additional props or accessories would be beneficial. If a particular set is to be used then time needs to be set aside in advance to both prepare the set – which may involve some painting and or assembly at the studio. If its a particularly large or complex construction then you would also need to cosnder access to the studio – be very frustrating to build a set which you could not then get to the studio.

An extreme example of planning access is the April 2014  50th Anniversary of the Ford Mustang which involved putting a car on the 86th floor observation deck of the Empire State building in new York for 48 hours. It had to be cut into pieces to fit the available lifts and then reassembled in situ. Click here for the full story.

 Shoot Itself

Work methodically through proposed shoot list, engage with the models and provide clear direction to give make models feel at ease but also give confidence that you know what you are doing.

If possible backup images immediately from the camera to a computer, don’t format camera cards until you are certain you have duplicate copies.

Lastly empty the studio of any additional items you have brought in, put backgrounds and lights away neatly and safely. e.g. don’t leave electrical equipment plugged in and if necessary clean studio area.

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This entry was posted in Studio Portrait, Technique Journal.

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