Lighting and Shooting Portraits in a Very Small Studio Space

Not all of us have the luxury of an expansive studio space that we can fill with equipment and in which we can endlessly experiment. This great video shows to make the most of a very small studio space to light and shoot highly professional portraits.

Coming to you from Jeff Rojas, this great video shows how he shoots portraits in his small studio space (60 square feet) in his apartment. Whether you're first starting out or you're a pro who simply doesn't have a large, dedicated studio space, it can seem frustratingly difficult to achieve professional results when you're using something like a spare bedroom or office space, which is why I appreciate Rojas' approach so much, as it shows that with the proper technical knowledge and some careful thought about how you're doing things, you can accomplish quite a bit. It's particularly well-timed for me, as I'll be shooting 50 headshots in a very small recording studio next month, and I will have to make the same sorts of considerations Rojas does, but even if you don't normally shoot in such a space, I recommend watching the video and trying it, as it'll really push your lighting skills. 

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19 Comments

Johnny Rico's picture

Solid content. $195.99 for 2 sheets of foam core is a bit steep though...

William Howell's picture

You most likely know this, but I went to Dodd Camera to get some foam board, and they charge about like $90 bucks per sheet. If you buy six or more the price goes down to like$40 bucks, so I bought six, hopefully they come in handy in use all at once.

Something else to consider when you're not shooting full body portraits is to get smaller sheets from a craft store and just clamp them to a couple of cheap light stands, which most people have lying around already. And if not, cheap light stands + smaller foam board is still cheaper than these, and potentially more versatile.

William Howell's picture

Exactly, I got the 4x8 to shoot full length, and I was shocked at how expensive they are!
Hey you might already know this, but I’m going to throw it out there in case someone else reads this post, Hobby Lobby has the best quality small foam core that I have found yet. And in different colors.

Johnny Rico's picture

Hell that even seems steep. I can get 4'x'8 @ $17 sheet from a plastic supply company (ask local sign shops who their supplier is). Cheaper yet when in a full case of 25 ($14/sheet). They deliver once a week for free too.

Also Dodd Pro is my P1 dealer, and I really like them, but $90/sheet is BS unless your are getting some super thick foam core.

If you have a Menards in your area (or possibly similar big box hardware store)

"Expanded Polystyrene Foam Insulation 2" x 4' x 8' R-8"

$11/sheet, comes thinner too. Poly board paints very well.

William Howell's picture

Yeah I wished I hadn’t bought the foam core and went to Menards, which to me is the best of the big box diy stores. I’ll never do it again. Plus the stuff from Menards is better, you know a little thicker than the stuff I bought from Dodd, but I did have to paint it black on the one side.

Jeff Rojas's picture

I'm going to assume that both of you have cars? I'm still trying to figure out how to carry four​ 4'x8' panels on my Harley. lol

Spy Black's picture

Very cool. Very nice of him to make these.

Jeff Rojas's picture

Thank you kindly! Giving back to the community that gave me so much. :)

romain VERNEDE's picture

Jeff is very impressive when teaching/sharing stuffs.
Direct to the point, with solid results, keeps it simple, no effects, no ego
A great man!

Jeff Rojas's picture

You're extremely kind. Thank you. :)

William Howell's picture

Small sq. feet but he’s has decently high ceilings. Good videos from Jeff Rojas, he is pretty good photographer and his videos are high quality.

Andrew Feller's picture

I used to question this too... but then I started shopping for office space and you'd be surprised how many have 11+ ft ceilings but only 150sq/ft of floor in downtown areas.

William Howell's picture

To me, it would seem to be easier to deal with small space than low ceiling height, and I have no doubt that NYC is pricey, that’s where almost everyone wants to be.

Ted Merklin's picture

I agree William - I can (and do) absolutely make do with a small footprint, but when that footprint exists in an area with 7.5' ceilings, light positioning and subject posing becomes a challenge!

Jeff Rojas's picture

Both of you are rig​ht. Shooting with low ceilings isn't ideal, but it's not IMPOSSIBLE. However, the principle of light is still the same; CONTROL is EVERYTHING. :)

Karl-Filip Karlsson's picture

small studio.. My whole apartment is 25 square meters with a studio. xD

Jeff Rojas's picture

Lol, I'm not far behind you. My last apartment was 37sqm, and the current one is 46sqm. You're in good company my friend.

romain VERNEDE's picture

Large window but low ceiling and tall subject, photography is a matter of compromise... thank you again for the kick in the a**