When it comes to starting a career in product photography, many would assume that you need to rent a professional photo studio. But do you really need to?
In this article, I’ll tell you how my wife, Alina Kareva, who is a professional product photographer started her career 2.5 years ago from the comfort of our apartment and progressed from there.
You’ll learn about the advantages and disadvantages of using your own home as a studio, as well as what product photography equipment you need to set up your own product photography studio at home.
How To Do Product Photography Without a Photo Studio
In February 2022, my wife finished a four-week online course in product photography. She found a passion for it and decided to become a professional product photographer.
However, we didn’t have access to a professional photo studio. So, Alina cleverly converted our two-year-old son’s relatively empty room into her product photography studio.
At the time, I had a quality mirrorless camera, a Sony A7III, along with a Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 zoom lens and a Profoto A10 off-camera flash. I handed these over to Alina to aid her in refining her product photography skills.
For the following six to eight months, she practiced her product photography skills in our son’s room.
During this period she managed to build her first product photography portfolio, and she even managed to do a few paid assignments for her first product photography clients.
However, after that, we both decided that we need to start preparing a room for our growing son and that it is time to move Alina’s home photo studio elsewhere.
After some research, we found a small (22,3 m2) and affordable room. We rented it and transformed it into a dedicated product photography studio.
PRO TIP: While we were searching for a suitable room for a product photography studio, I contacted the local University to inquire about available spaces for rent.
They promptly responded, offering us a small room at a very reasonable price: €100 per month plus communal payments.
Thus, if you’re looking for a place to set up your first photo studio, consider reaching out to local universities to check for vacant rooms.
Advantages of Doing Product Photography at Home
- Lower Start-Up Costs: The main advantage of doing product photography from home is that you don’t need to rent a professional studio, which can be quite costly. You only need to invest in essential product photography equipment such as cameras, lenses, and lighting.
- Less Travel: When you are shooting from home you don’t need to waste time on traveling to a product photography studio.
- Flexibility: Working from home offers the convenience of setting your schedule. You can work during the hours that are most productive for you.
- Easier to Maintain: When you set up a studio at home, it is easy to keep it clean and organized, because you have access to the hoover, cleaning supplies, and other necessary items.
- Comfort: Working in the comfort of your home is one of the biggest advantages. You don’t need to worry about dressing up, plus you can always take a break anytime you want.
- Tax Benefits: Depending on your location and tax laws, you may be able to claim some home expenses as business deductions.
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Disadvantages of Doing Product Photography at Home
- Limited Space: Depending on the size of your home, you may not have a lot of room for your studio, which can limit the type of work you can do.
Storage Constraints: You might struggle with where to store equipment, props, and products, especially if you live in a small home.
- Distractions: Even though you can control your work environment to an extent, home distractions such as pets, family, or household chores can be disruptive.
- Difficulty in Separating Work and Personal Life: When your home also serves as your workplace, it can be challenging to set boundaries between your professional and personal life.
- Difficulties in Shooting Large Products: With limited space, it might be challenging to photograph larger products effectively.
- Lack of Professional Environment: Clients may perceive a home studio as less professional compared to a dedicated commercial space.
Essential Photography Equipment to Begin Product Photography from Home
If you are just starting and want to pursue a product photography career, here’s a list of the essential photography equipment that you’ll need:
- A digital camera (I recommend going for an entry-level mirrorless camera)
- A camera lens (I recommend purchasing a fixed (also known as prime) lens with a focal length between 90-100mm
- An off-camera flash or a studio strobe
- Light stand
- A softbox
- Tether pro cable to connect the camera to your computer
If you’d like to learn more about essential product photography gear, I highly recommend you to read my guide: Tools of the Trade: Essential Product Photography Equipment.
So, do you really need a professional photo studio to start a product photography career?
The answer is no, you don’t need to have a studio, you can (and probably should) start your product photography journey from the comfort of your home.
Moreover, as Alina’s story has shown you, it is possible to start a product photography career and build a portfolio without having access to an expensive professional studio. All you need is some essential photography equipment and you’re good to go!
Just remember that regardless of whether you do product photography at home or in a professional space, practice makes perfect! So keep shooting and good luck in pursuing your product photography career!