(Home) Studio

Sometimes I use big lights, not speedlights. Here’s my studio for a shoot Friday:

Mono Studio (Photo Michael Willems)

That is a tad complex:

  • Three and a bit lights. I use Bowens lights – love them.
  • A way to fire them (cable or pocket wizards – I use the latter).
  • Modifiers (softbox for the main light, and umbrella, perhaps also a snoot)
  • A backdrop stand.
  • Paper roll. White, grey or black, depending.
  • Tape to hold the roll down.
  • Clamps to stop the roll from rolling down.
  • A light meter.
  • A tripod.
  • A camera with a lens of the right range (50-150mm)

It takes up to an hour to set that up, and a good half hour to take it down (ask why photography costs money).

And all this results in pictures like this:

Traditional Dress

For a studio like this you need, above all, lots of space. Especially when using powerful studio lights and long lenses like my favourite 70-200. Vertical space (ceiling height) as well as lots and lots of horizontal space. In this case, also space to move the subject away from the backdrop, in order to make it darker. Otherwise, if the subject is close to a white backdrop, the backdrop turns very white:

Michael Willems, self portrait

Michael Willems, self portrait

I like that look a lot, but the dress in the shot above had white, so we needed to create separation between it and the backdrop. Meaning we needed a darker backdrop.

So an important question: can you do anything with less?

Sure you can. Tomorrow I’ll show you some examples from the same shoot.

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