How a Photographer Converted Her Brooklyn Apartment Into a Fully Functioning Studio

As working from home becomes the new normal, we have to think creatively about how to make it work. See how fashion photographer Emily Teague converted her living room into a fully functioning studio. 

If you have been to New York City, you know that space is often limited, so when you are tasked with making your living space, kitchen, living room, office, and studio cram into 1,000 square feet, Emily shows us that you can create great work no matter where you are. 

In this video, Teague goes into some useful storage tips and how she lays out the equipment in her apartment. For example, she likes to label her backgrounds by color and length, so they can easily be recognized before a shoot. As she continues her tour, you'll notice that in Teague's workplace, all of the gear is tucked up against the edges of the wall, maximizing shooting space in the middle of the room. With just a little readjustment, this tiny space is converted into a fully working studio.   

One of the ways she shows us her space is by demonstrating a quick and easy versatile lighting setup that could be used in any small living room studio. She begins by placing her key light, which is an Elinchrom ELC 500 with a Elincrom 59-inch softbox, camera right, so that the light on the model became feathered. Then, to fill the shadows, she places another strobe aimed at the ceiling to bounce the ambient light back into the scene. Lastly, she pops open two v-flats on either side of the model. 

Even though Emily primarily uses Elinchrom strobes and modifiers for her work, you could easily do this same setup with any other brand of equipment.

As a small home studio shooter myself, I instantly connected with this video. I find myself in a similar situation every time I want to shoot. It's also fascinating to me to see other people's workspaces and how they create their images there. It teaches you that you're able to make a small space work for you and not let it limit your creativity.  

What does your studio workplace look like? Leave a photo showing us in the comments below!

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14 Comments

Dan Grayum's picture

Heads up, your title says "converter" rather than "converted"

Eli Dreyfuss's picture

Fixed it. Thank you!

Johnny Kiev's picture

That is far from being a "Tiny Space", good use of space sure but you can do a lot in 1000 sq feet.

Eli Dreyfuss's picture

The actual shooting space is far less than 1000 square feet. It’s more like 500.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Well... 20x20 is still healthy space for full body portraits and is far from being tiny. By European standards :)

Johnny Kiev's picture

If my Paris apartment had been 500 it would have felt like a palace, even 500 is a big space in a lot of places.

Ryan Handt's picture

I’m sorry, but this is not a tiny space. I’ve lived in NY most of my life and this space is luxurious. Good for her and great use of space, but doesn’t help me in my 300 sq ft of usable space.

Eli Dreyfuss's picture

The same principles apply. If you want to create great work, you do no matter where you are. Would love to to see your setup!

Dan Howell's picture

The first studio I had on my own in Manhattan was 13x27' (351 sq ft). Luckily I had large windows on two sides (roughly 8' on one side 16' on the other side of a corner). Walls floor and ceiling were painted white. I got so much out of it. Location was great at 5th Ave and 20th Street.

At the time I was doing mostly headshots at that time but I was also starting to do music/celebrity portraits for magazines. I got a ton out of that small space. Not as much full-length fashion as I do now, but I certainly did some fashion there. If I needed more crop, I just opened up my door and set my tripod in the hallway. I was mainly shooting headshots with 85-105mm which is a nice focal length. having the walls, windows and floor either providing or reflecting light made a lot of shots possible.

Currently I have a client who has an in-house studio which is only about 15x35' so really not that much different. Luckly there is a separate dressing/styling office and make-up is also done outside the shooting space, but still not a grand amount of space (unlike my personal studio) and we get a ton of shots out of it. Now I typically use 85mm for full length fashion; 105-200mm for headshot/beauty shots.

Michael Steinbach's picture

Ceiling height is usually the limiting factor for many home based studios and this is hardly a cramped, low headspace location.

Emily Teague's picture

Thanks so much for this feature!! :)

Rhonald Rose's picture

500sqft is a dream space for me, I manage with approximately 320 sqft. Nevertheless, it's nice and it gives some ideas.

Emily Teague's picture

The 1,000sqft includes two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a hallway too, so the studio space itself is pretty close to 500 actually :)

Yin Ze's picture

I am more interested in how to afford 1000 sq. foot apartment in Brooklyn and all that Elinchrom gear. :). Please make this topic of next video.