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How big does a portrait studio need to be?

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<p>Hi everyone,<br>

I am thinking about starting a portrait studio out of my home in the future, but I'm not sure if the space I have is realistically big enough. How big a space is the minimum space required to do portraits or family sessions of up to 5 or 6 people considering all the space that is needed for equipment as well?<br>



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<p>Your biggest limitation in opening a studio in your home is ceiling height. In order to put a hair light above a standing 6 ft tall person requires 3 or more feet of space.</p>

<p>As far as linear dimensions, you need 5-8 feet of space between your subject and the backdrop, a couple of feet for the subject, and 12-20 feet between the subject and the camera. More distance is required for larger groups. You can't use a wide angle lens on group portraits because of the distortion of those on the ends.</p>

<p>As for width, consider you'll need 10 feet for any kind of background, and more than that for group shots, so consider 15 feet about the minimum.</p>

<p>Now, before everyone jumps on me with both feet, you can do it with less in every dimension. But it won't be as good, as easy, or as much fun. Because you will be compromising something everytime.</p>

<p>My studio is 10 X 15 feet and is too small for a full length portrait of one person, and almost too small to do "clam shell" lighting for a seated portrait. My 15 ft depth means I don't have enough depth to light the background separately, and means I have to use a 40mm focal length lens in stead of the 60-100mm normally recommended. My ceiling is a standard 8 ft 6 inches, and I can put a small softbox on a boom over a seated person, but not a standing person.</p>

<p>So I shoot small products instead of people.</p>


<p><br /><br /></p>

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<p>Kodak, in all their books on studio and portraits, always teaches that you need at least a 20' room. (Between back drop and lens.) And this figure is for 1 or 2 subjects at a time.<br>

This allows room for lighting equipment, and space to keep subjects 5-8' off the back ground. And enough distance so a telefoto type portrait lens can be used.<br>

With a short portrait lens on your camera, practice framing a person at various distances. You'll quickly see that the room needs to be quite large. Unless of course you only shoot tight, head/shoulder portraits.</p>

<p>Next they suggest at least a 12-14' ceiling for proper hair, and back lighting. And the room needs to be however wide you think you'll need. For small groups 2-6 people, it's best to have at least a 10-15' wide room. This because rolls of seamless paper come in 9' rolls.</p>

<p>The truth be told that all of us have shot portraits in rooms much smaller,and lower than the above ideal. Great portraits can be shot with window light, and white card board reflector, in the corner of a cramped room.</p>

<p> So the answer is: make what ever space you have work, but bigger is always better. There is nothing worse than tripping over light stands, and wires in a too small space.</p>

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<p>My basic studio area is about 1600 square feet now. I really depends on what you shoot, but I prefer working location work, hate offices. This studio include offices, and bathroom. If you are talking shooting area I would say comfortable is 30X45 feet. Tight 20X30 feet. I like ceilings with about 10 feet or taller.</p>

<p>I am not a huge fan of home studios I tend to view them<br>

<a title="studio01012909 by FullMetalPhotographer, on Flickr" href=" studio01012909 src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3307/3274089120_1d61932357.jpg" alt="studio01012909" width="500" height="333" /></a><em><strong> </strong></em><br>

<em><strong>Main Studio</strong></em><br>

My view of professional home studios is very negative because no matter how good you are they tend to devalue your work. I have seen some good home but they are setups that studios in which the photographer lives in a loft above the studio or studio is completely a separate entity from the house. You need to think about acess to bathrooms and changing areas, as well as waiting areas.</p>

<p>Let me say this way you will find it difficult to get a top dollar for your work, if your clients have low expectations. Right now with a depressed commercial market I would recommend looking at renting a commercial space before converting your home.<br /><br>

Things to avoid converting a living room, these tend to look very tacky, or a garage unless you covert it to a room with with heating, AC and ventilation. <br /></p>

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  • 2 weeks later...

<p>The approach I will be attempting will be to rent hotel meeting rooms as I start out. I abandonded the idea of studio at home because of many of the limitations that have been pointed out. It is fairly easy to find them at sizes of 20x30 feet and ceilings 10-14 feet tall. And at the same time the expense is controllable compared to a commercial lease.<br>

There are bathrooms and waiting areas built in to the hotel. I'm still thinking about some kind of simple changing area that might be more convenient.<br>

Has anyone else tried this?</p>

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