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How to Set Up a Photography Studio Outdoors

By Michelle Ecker on May 29, 2020

How to Set Up a Photography Studio Outdoors

If you’re new to photography, learning how to set up your first studio can feel like a daunting task. To take that a step further, setting one up outside might seem like an impractical, bad idea.

But with the right equipment and setup workflow, you can assemble a workable studio outdoors- which provides you with the nice backdrop you’d get from a traditional studio, but with the opportunity to photograph your subject using natural light. 

What Gear Will You Need for An Outdoor Photography Studio? 

We recommend you invest in or borrow the following gear when getting started with a basic outdoor studio set up:

1. Backdrop stands - These are pretty self explanatory. They are the tools that you will use to set up whatever backdrop you choose to work with. 

2. Backdrop-  Obviously you will also need to bring a backdrop itself. While you can purchase photography-specific backdrops at most photography supply stores (head to NYIP’s online learning center to shop Adorama’s for exclusive student discounts on gear like this), some photographers also opt to use certain types of seamless fabrics instead.

3. Scrim- A scrim is a special device used by photographers in order to modify the harshness or softness of light. When working outdoors as opposed to in a studio, the quality of light is no longer in your control, so having a piece of gear like this is crucial as you may find yourself wanting to manipulate the natural light a bit to achieve a stronger or softer quality. 

4. Reflectors- These are just pieces of reflective material that you can use in order to bounce natural light in a certain direction. 

5. Clamps or clips- These are just helpful to keep handy in order to get your gear set up properly such as getting your backdrop clipped to your stands, etc. 

Where Should You Set Up an Outdoor Studio? 

If you are doing an outdoor photo shoot, try your best to scout a location where you will not be surrounded by high buildings or anything else that might cast a distracting shadow on your subject and setup while you’re trying to work. 

Ideally, try to pick a place where you won’t be heavily affected by wind (working by the ocean, for example, can be a challenge), and somewhere where you can work uninterrupted, direct sunlight all around you. 

What If the Weather Doesn’t Cooperate? 

While most photographers who work outdoors are very careful to mind the weather before scheduling a shoot, sometimes the sunlight quality is something that changes unexpectedly. You’ll need to adapt on the go unless you’re able to postpone with your subject and reschedule for a better weather-quality day. 

Shooting portraits in harsh sunlight, for example, can be a great challenge. If you find yourself working beneath unexpectedly strong light, simply switch over into manual mode, widen your aperture, and try working with an f stop of somewhere between f/1.2 and f/2.6 in order to achieve the best results possible. 

Want to Learn More? 

NYIP offers an online course just for photographers who are interested in learning more about portraiture. From shooting on location to setting up your own photography studio in-house, this course will help prepare you for an exciting career in this creative industry. For more information on the program or how you can get started, call 1 800-583-1736.