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When you think of a photography studio you’re likely to picture an indoor studio with lights, backdrops and a busy team of assistants managing the daily schedule; however, an outdoor studio can be a valuable asset for any photographer!
Outdoor photography studios can easily be set up at a much lower cost than an indoor one and although you’ll have less control over the lighting you can learn how to manipulate and control the available sunlight with practise.
Creating your own outdoor studio is a fun DIY project that will open up plenty of new opportunities for you as a photographer. An outdoor studio is ideal for a wide range of genres in photography and provided you live in a part of the world where the climate is fairly consistent and sunny, it’s the perfect addition to your overall setup.
What Do You Need An Outdoor Photography Studio For?
There’s many reasons why setting your own outdoor studio is advantageous, including:
- You can save a lot of money compared to renting or buying an indoor studio.
- The equipment required for an outdoor studio is relatively cheap and easy to get hold of.
- An outdoor studio is perfect for taking natural looking portrait photos.
- Outdoor studios can be used to shoot some unique fashion shoots.
- The natural ambience of the outdoors gives photos a lovely atmosphere.
- When you’re working in your outdoor studio you don’t have the same time limitations as you would if you were renting an indoor studio.
- Working in an outdoor setting keeps the mood relaxed; meaning that models and clients will feel at ease during the photoshoot.
- It’s quick and easy to set up your own outdoor photography studio.
What Are The Disadvantages Of An Outdoor Photography Studio?
Although there are many advantages of setting up an outdoor studio there are a few drawbacks that you should keep in mind. However, you can overcome these problems with good forward planning.
- Security can be a concern if you are planning to leave your equipment out while you’re not using it. Depending on the location where your outdoor studio is based, it may be necessary to dismantle it after you’ve finished your photoshoot.
- The weather can be a problem if it begins to rain or worse. However, if you keep your eye on the forecasts you should be able to work around spells of bad weather.
- Not all outdoor studios have toilets or changing facilities. However, you can rent a portable toilet if you’re working away from home.
Where Should You Set Up Your Outdoor Studio?
You can set up an outdoor studio in almost any location, although if you want to access it regularly you can build it in your own backyard or on the concrete in front of your garage. If you don’t have a backyard or permanent access to an outdoor space, you can create a mobile outdoor studio which you can take with you to any location! For instance, you could set up your studio on a beach or any public space.
Ideally, for regular use, you will want to set up your studio at home, in your garden, so you can use it anytime the weather is fine. Remember, that it doesn’t have to be bright sunshine for you to get great natural lighting because if anything, an overcast day is easier to work with.
Top Tip – Pay Attention To Your Surroundings When Setting Up Your Outdoor Studio.
When you’re planning where to set up your outdoor studio you need to be conscious of any tall buildings, structures or trees that may cast a shadow over your location. These shadows may only be cast over your location at certain times of the day but if possible it’s better to avoid setting up in these places because it will limit the amount of time that you can work in your studio.
You also need to check that there are no windows or other reflective features in the surrounding area which can reflect strong sunlight in your direction during your photoshoots.
When selecting a location for your outdoor photography studio you want to find somewhere that is not too windy and will be in the sun for most of the day; while staying out of the shadows from tall buildings and nearby structures.
Setting Up An Outdoor Photography Studio – What You Will Need.
Setting up your own outdoor photography studio is very simple to do and although it will take a little while to get used to only working with natural lighting the results can be fantastic.
Creating a basic outdoor studio doesn’t require a huge amount of equipment and once you have your essential items you can add to the equipment slowly over time. This will spread your costs and give you the chance to see what’s working for you so you can further build on that.
The Minimum Required Equipment For An Outdoor Photography Studio.
Following are some of the minimum requirements:
- Backdrops. One of the most important pieces of equipment that you’ll need for your outdoor studio is several backdrops. This will allow you to pose your models in front of different colored backgrounds and give you the versatility to work in multiple genres. You will definitely want a plain white backdrop but you can also have a whole range of shades for using in different shoots. You can buy backdrops in all colors and patterns although you can also improvise your own using fabrics, paper or any other materials that you think would be appropriate.
- Backdrop Stands. You’ll need to purchase some backdrop stands so you can mount the backdrops when you’re outside.
- A Scrim. This is a crucial addition to your outdoor studio because this device allows you to control and modify the softness or harshness of the natural light. When you’re working in an outdoor studio you have far less control over the lighting, since you are relying entirely on the sun, so having a scrim is essential for you to manipulate the available light. By using the scrim you can achieve softer or stronger tones of light in your work while maintaining a natural look in your subjects.
- Opaque Material With An Adjustable Stand. There will be times when you may want to block the natural light to create a strong shadow in the image. You can use any opaque, or black, material and an adjustable stand to create the shadows that you need.
- Reflectors. When you’re shooting outdoors you can use reflectors to focus and direct the available light to create more dramatic contrasts in the tone of your subjects. Reflectors are simply reflective pieces of material which you can use to effectively bounce or direct the light with more precision to achieve the results you want.
- Clips. You always need to have some clips in your outdoor studio. These are used to hold your equipment in place; for instance, you can use your clips to properly position your backdrops.
Other Useful Items.
- Gazebo. Although it’s not necessary, having a gazebo available means that if the weather suddenly turns bad and begins to rain you can quickly cover your equipment without cancelling the photoshoot. However, if you’re working in your backyard you may decide to just call it a day and take your equipment back inside.
- Lightweight beach chairs. It’s always a good idea to have a few chairs for your outdoor studio so models and clients can sit down and relax between photos. It will also help to foster a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere for you and your subjects.
What If The Weather Doesn’t Cooperate?
One of the risks that comes with working in an outdoor studio is that the weather can change – clouds gathering overhead as the rain starts to pour! This means that the first thing you should do before you plan an outdoor photoshoot is to check the weather forecast. This will help you to plan a good day for your shoot.
Another thing you should do when you’re arranging a photoshoot with a model or a client is to let them know in advance that if the weather isn’t cooperating that you will have to reschedule the shoot. Making this clear at the outset will help to mitigate any problems with models or paying clients if you have to reschedule at the last minute.
Alternatively, you can create a weather proof outdoor studio. For example, you can set up the shoot underneath a large gazebo tent. This will restrict the available light but with clever use of reflectors you can make it work for you, even if it’s raining outside. You can also set up your outdoor studio in a covered area, such as a veranda or porch, provided there’s enough space for you to get all the equipment in place.
On the other end of the weather spectrum, harsh, bright sunlight can also be a challenge when you’re shooting outdoors. You can use your scrim to soften the light but you can also use the settings on your camera in Manual mode to combat the problem. For instance, you can use your aperture to reduce the harshness of the light by setting it around f1.4 or f2.8.
An Outdoor Photography Studio Is Easy To Create And Great To Work With.
Working in an outdoor studio is a fun, relaxing way to shoot some incredible portraits, product photography, food photography and fashion shoots as well as much more besides. The natural lighting that you’ll be using in your outdoor studio gives your subjects a genuinely authentic feel that’s almost impossible to recreate indoors.
Setting up your own outdoor studio is highly advisable and can be an extremely useful asset for any working photographer. It may take a little while to get used to working with and manipulating the natural which is available but as you master it your photography skills will quickly improve.
Having the equipment for an outdoor studio also means that you can take it with you to shoot on other locations which is a great tool to have at your disposal for a wide range of jobs, including pre-wedding beach photos, urban fashion shoots and general portrait work.