The Home Studio

There are some models who say a photographer who has a home studio is creepy, unprofessional, and is one to be wary of. There are even some who say that a photographer who has an actual studio (as in one separate from his place of residence) is far more legit, safer, and more professional. The reasoning is often, “I don’t want to be alone with a stranger in his house”. What’s even more mindblowing is when people say things like, “a home studio is fine as long as there’s backdrops, lights and other expensive-looking stuff, it can even be in the basement… but just shooting out of the living room with none of that is creepy!”.

And to all that I say: BULLSHIT! Why?
Studio rental can be expensive. Not everyone can afford to rent space to shoot in (especially right now). And why should someone who has the space available in their home/apartment be forced to fork out more dough to rent more space? They shouldn’t. Renting space doesn’t automatically make someone a pro… it makes them someone who can rent space.

Space is space. If there’s room for a backdrop and lights to be set up, there’s room to shoot. Heck, a lot of the time, you don’t need the backdrop and lights to get a beautiful shot–a space lit well with natural light can create amazing images. And sometimes, the lack of space and the uniqueness of it might force the model and photographer to get creative, which can result in some great stuff as well.

When did expensive equipment and a “legit-looking” place start meaning that the person who owns it all is safe and professional? Spending a lot of money on something doesn’t automatically buy that person talent as well, so why would it eliminate their creep factor or make them conduct themselves in a professional manor? It wouldn’t.

And really, how is a basement better than a living room? Seriously. That just makes no fucking sense to me.

Now, some examples.
Before you read on, can you tell me which shots were taken in homes, and which were taken in non-home studios? They’re all studio shots, and they were all taken by photographers whom I would consider some of the most professional I’ve worked with–I’ve worked with all of them at least twice.


Think you figured it out? Here are the answers:
The accordion shot was taken in the photographer’s apartment, in what should have been his dining area. Backdrop and lights were set up, and workspace was roughly 6′ x 6′.

The white background shot was taken in the photographer’s basement studio. Backdrop and lights were set up, and workspace was roughly 12′ x 10′.

The next shot was taken in the photographer’s studio, which is located in an industrial park (not in his home). Lights and backdrop were set up, and workspace was quite large. This particular photographer is a commercial photographer who also teaches photography at one of the local design schools.

The shot with the gloves was taken in the photographer’s home (which doubles as his studio). If his house had been setup normally, it would have been his dining room. A full light and backdrop setup was used.

The final shot was taken in a photographer’s studio, located in a building in a not-so-great area of town. Working space was roughly 12’x8′, and backdrop and lights were set up.

So, home studio versus rented space…
What’s the big deal where someone shoots? Models (especially those building their portfolios) should be more concerned with portfolio quality, professional conduct, and communication skills than where the photographer shoots his/her pictures.

If a model is insecure with being alone with the photographer, even after she’s checked references, she has a couple options. She could make sure it’s ok to bring a MUA (or ask the photographer if he has one he works with often), and book one. She could ask the photographer to meet ahead of time, at a place like Starbucks. Or she could just not shoot with that photographer.

7 Responses to “The Home Studio”

  1. Great points! I agree 100%! I don’t have a studio and prefer to shoot outdoors and on-location. If I do need a studio I either rent (for a paid shoot) or shoot out my apartment.

    I think the difference between models who embrace apartment studios and those who find them “creepy” is experience. 100% of the professional models I’ve worked with have and still work with photographers who shoot out of their homes.

    I know some great hobbyist photographers who only shoot out of their homes. They have no intention of being “professional” i.e. selling your soul to art directors or agents.

    Even Helmut Newton did photo shoots in his home!


  2. As a photographer that shoots out of her home studio I applaud this post. Just because a photographer doesn’t have the hundreds of extra dollars a month to rent a studio doesn’t make them any less of a professional. All my photos are taken in my home studio that I built in my den.


  3. I invested in me and build the studio I wanted.
    Great article

  4. As always, wise words from Rachel.

    I’ve shot in awesome studios, and in my son’s former bedroom with a velvet curtain as a backdrop. Gotten great results in both.

    One of the best photographers in my area shoots in his kitchen, and the finest commercial photography studio I’ve seen was actually built in the photographer’s house.

  5. Great article. I enjoyed reading it and you make some excellent points. I shoot in both my home, in rented studios and outdoors. It isn’t the location that makes me a legit photographer, but rather the results and how I conduct myself with the models with whom I work.

    Sometimes I use my home because it has the right decor for the shoot (when choose our interior decorations, we had photography in mind as well), and I’ve yet to have a model complain about shooting in my home.

    Thanks for giving us a model’s perspective.

  6. Yup agreed…..did studio sharing a few years ago with 2 others, was nice but a pain and expensive. I couldn’t leave my stuff there, every shoot became too much work for that reason. Finally found a house with a detached garage, nice high cieling, works wonderfully as a studio, and many times have (gulp) lol, shot in the house as well! Professional and unprofessional works in all settings, the location doesn’t set that status. Nicely written article 🙂