By Nicole Klingler and Chantri Keele of True Atelier, Teaching Tuesday Contributors
Ok photog friends… lets talk about having a studio! It isn’t a necessary thing for everyone, but chances are, there will come a time in your business where you long for the ability to shoot in a space where the lighting and climate can be controlled, and where your consultation and sales experience with clients can be perfected. For us it was a NEED for three reasons. 1.) We live in Eastern Idaho, which means we pretty much live in frozen tundra conditions (or close to it) for five months out of the year. 2.) We both have a busy brood of children, so in-home consultations are harder and harder to manage. 3.) Sometimes, we HAVE to take our work out of our homes so we can concentrate and be productive
In the case where YOU find yourself needing a studio space for your business, whether it be inside your home or outside of it, there are two things to determine before you get started.
1.) Do you (or will you) be shooting using natural light, strobes, or both? This will determine how much depth you need and if you need to orient things according to the availability of a window.
2.) What type of subject will you be shooting in the studio? Children? Seniors? Families? This will determine how much space you might need, how you might decorate, and what props and backdrops you may need to acquire.
In the event that you shoot with natural light, finding a commercial space with ample window light, or a space in your home with a large window, preferably north facing… is key. If the available window isn’t north facing however, don’t despair, that can be managed with the time of day you shoot and the distance you keep your subject from the window. Next, if you choose to shoot with studio lighting (strobe or continuous) then you may need to determine what equipment you should purchase. This is usually the biggest question plaguing photographers as they start out. With so many options, how do you even choose?
We both went through this quandary when researching equipment. Our choice isn’t necessarily the right one for everyone, but it was for us. And we are confident that if you are just starting out with studio lighting, the Alien Bees strobes by Paul C. Buff are not only user friendly but quality strobes for studio work. We use four Alien Bees B800 studio strobes with soft boxes varying in size and shape, but both began with only one… and continue to shoot with one on a pretty consistent basis depending on the situation. (check out our most used soft box for studio work here.)
Another pertinent equipment choice would be to consider what lens will work with your space and your situation. We have found that for us, a 50mm focal length is best for most studio shoots (especially kids and families where you need to fit more in), while 85mm works excellently for head shot sessions. We particularly love prime lenses, but a nice zoom lens like a 24-70mm is great for studio work as well. Keep in mind, that IF you are shooting with studio strobes and using a zoom lens, it needs to have a fixed aperture, like the 24-70mm f/2.8. If it does NOT have a fixed aperture, like most kit lenses (says something like f/ 3.5-5) then your lighting will change as you zoom your lens in and out. You DON’T want that!
Once you have your space established, along with lighting and equipment, you can then determine what you will need in the form of props and backdrops. At True Atelier, our studio style is more minimal and classic. We furnish and decorate our space with pieces that can be used in our shoots. Our walls are painted white, grey and a creamy vanilla shake. We have light wood floors, a temporary white floor, and also a grey laminate floor that can be laid down according to our needs. We keep a variety of neutral chairs and stools at the ready, and have about 20 differently backdrops that can be brought out if necessary (we use fabric, seamless paper, poly paper, vinyl, and canvas).
We feel so blessed to be in a beautiful space that works well for our brand and business, as well as our budget and families. But, it definitely took baby steps to get here. We both began with one light in small, unfinished basement spaces in our homes, and before that used available window light in our kitchens and other living areas. From there, we both built dedicated spaces in our basements for our business that worked well for a time. But, the time came for us take our studio out of our homes and merge our business to build the True Atelier brand. The baby steps have been timely but have happened at the RIGHT time, for each of us personally and for our business. That is usually the key! Is it the right time for you?
To be continued…
Nicole Klingler and Chantri Keele are Idaho based, national wedding and portrait photographers with an affinity for all things styled and editorial. Their work has been featured on popular photography resources like SENIOROLOGIE and LEMONADE & LENSES, as well as in print in CHIC MAGAZINE, the IDAHO WEDDING GUIDE, and IDAHO WEDDINGS magazine. Nicole and Chantri love sharing what they have learned with other photographers in the industry through blogging and classes. Check them out at www.blog.trueatelier.com , through their other social media platforms like instagram or facebook, or visit them at their studio in the historic downtown of Idaho Falls.