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Home Photography Studio Kit

1. Professional Photography Background Kit… I toyed for some time as to which background kit to get. Prices varied from under £30 (US$43 approx.) to £200 (US$288 approx.). In the end, I opted for best quality – something that will be reliable and not start falling to pieces after a few uses. I felt that this is one of those purchases you only want to make ONCE. I ended up buying a kit from Creativity Papers (based in the UK), who also sell on Amazon (UK). The kit came with two tripod uprights; a multi-piece crossbar (allowing you to have different widths, depending on the size of your room – I only use two of the four bars, so it fits nicely in my 3 meter wide room); and one roll of arctic white paper. I also purchased a roll of ultra black paper and a cherry red color (this last one I’ve NEVER ONCE USED; I thought I was going to be all creative with using different backgrounds, but when it comes to taking the photos, I find I just want to get it done with the minimum of fuss, either using a white background for darker colored objects, or a black background for lighter colored stuff).

2. “A Clamps”… The backdrop kit that I purchased actually came with a couple of metal A Clamps, which are used to secure the backdrop paper to tables, as the rolls of backdrop paper have a natural tendency to try and roll themselves back up. If your backdrop kit doesn’t come with them, you may need about four of them (at minimum). If I’m just hanging the backdrop straight down and not flowing it over a table, I will use a couple of metal A Clamps to weight-down the paper, so it can’t unravel. However, the weight of the metal A Clamps has a tendency to continue unrolling more paper; so, to fix this, I clamp two additional A Clamps into the roll of backdrop paper, where it hangs on the crossbar. I actually purchased a pack of about 8-10 of these A Clamps, “just in case” I need to use more. But, for the most part, I tend to only need a maximum of four clamps.

3. External Flash / Speed Light… When using a DSLR camera for product photography (especially if you have access to a tripod), there is a temptation to try and get away without using an external flash, by just using a longer exposure time – just enough until the image isn’t either too dark, nor too bright, but somewhere in between. However, the problem you’ll soon find is that some detail, in most non-flat objects, will be lost in the shadows. If you’re taking photos of products for eBay or Amazon, for instance, you want to show off as much detail as possible, for your prospective buyers. Using flash DOES make a positive difference. There may be a temptation to try using the pop-up flash (if your camera has one), but things do look better if you can take the flash away from the central position and over to about a 45 degrees angle to your subject. Being able to move the flash about your subject helps to maximize the results.

4. One OR Two Tripods… If you’re going to be using an external flash to illuminate your subject(s), you may need two tripods – one for the flash unit and the other for your camera (some of the time I find myself happy to take photos just handholding the camera; other times, I like to give my shoulders, arms and back a rest, and set the camera on its tripod). You don’t necessarily need a lightweight carbon fiber tripod for indoor photography work, as you’re not hiking about with the thing. Carbon fiber tripods cost more than the comparably heavier aluminium tripods. I have an aluminium tripod (MeFoto Roadtrip) for my external flash and, because I do take my camera outdoors, I have a carbon fiber 3LT “Brian”, which is very versatile.

5. Portable Photography Reflector Kit & Tripod Stand… While having multiple external flash units is probably ideal, it IS an expensive route to go (if you can afford it, or believe you’ll be able to justify the cost, then it’s a great option). However, a more economical option would be to set up your single external flash unit (pointing at your subject from the front, albeit off at a 45 degree angle) and then, directly opposite the flash, have a reflector angled so that it will throw otherwise lost flash light, directly back into your subject, illuminating some of the detail on the side that the flash light can’t directly reach. For this task, I purchased a portable photography reflector kit that came with its own tripod stand (so I didn’t need someone else to hold the reflector – meaning I could get on with my photography projects, without having to nag a relative to do the job… I certainly didn’t have the funds or inclination to pay someone to do the job. This kit solved the matter).