Breathing new life into your studio space shoot after shoot doesn't have to be difficult and it doesn't have to be expensive. With just a few simple DIY tricks, it's actually pretty easy to transform a plain white studio space into a stunning set.
My goal for this shoot was to take our simple white studio space and create a dramatic dark image with our model using some tricks I picked up shooting our tutorial with Clay Cook. The first step was to change the look of the set. For the background, I chose to add a medium brown cloth backdrop that has a nice texture to it. To give some dimensionality to the set I added a piece of foam core from Home Depot which I had painted with chalk paint. Finally, to hide the white floor space, I spread out a cloth backdrop on the ground and slid some sandbags under the cloth to give it some extra shape.
With set was built, I had the model sit on a stool and staged the lighting. I set up a 3-foot octabox on a boom stand with a Profoto B1 and put it camera left, the direction my model was facing. Putting the light close to my subject meant that the light would fall off quickly from her face to her lower body.
Placing the light so close to my model definitely brought the right mood to the image but the as you'll notice from the picture, the background is almost completely lost. To help bring out some of the texture on my foam core, I added another light with a 10-degree honeycomb grid on it to keep the light contained to a small area on the background.
With my background where I wanted it to be, my attention was next draw to the floor. The background cloth that I had covered the ground with was a little lighter in color than I would have liked. Although I could easily darken this in post-processing, I wanted to diminish the amount of light that was hitting the ground so I added a black card to cut off as much light as possible from spilling downward, while also maintaining the light I had on the models face.
The final touch was to bring out cut out the models leg and dress from the background a little more. I added a third light with a small softbox slightly behind her leg and dress and kept it on a low power setting.
With the lighting all set, I dropped my camera a little lower to bring emphasize the texture of the floor and give the model a more empowering pose. We shot a bunch of frames to nail the final pose and I chose my favorite to edit.
The Final Shot
In post, I cleaned up the model's skin and touched up some spots on the background, then added a final look to the image using Alien Skin.
When you see this image, it's hardly obvious it was shot in our standard white studio space. All it takes to create a mood like this is a little creativity with set building and backdrop materials. Hopefully, this inspires you to try something new on your next studio shoot.