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Essential Home Studio Lighting Equipment for Food Photography

With gear paralysis definitely being a thing when starting out in food photography, it can result in a lot of frustrating trial and error when equipping your new home studio. This guide is definitely useful.

Everyone likes to wax poetic about natural lighting when doing food photography. But the reality is, for a lot of us, we don’t live in an area of the world where natural light is consistent and plentiful. Food photographer Lauren Short walks us through the basics of artificial lights – both continuous and strobes – modifiers, and accessories.

Lauren makes some excellent points about good quality light stands that won’t tip or deflate. But what if your home studio space doesn’t have room for stands? The day I discovered wall-mounted boom arms was life-changing. I have three of them set up for different lighting scenarios: left directional light, back directional light, and right directional lighting. I keep my light sources permanently affixed. No more futzing around with light stands and having to move my table around to make room. The only things I need to swap are my light modifiers, mainly several types of softboxes. This saves so much time and energy. My light stands are now reserved for when I shoot on location.

Word of caution if buying the Neewer brands of boom arm: The bolts they provide to affix the arm to the wall are meant to be used in brick or concrete walls. They do not work in drywall or plaster walls. If you are affixing to drywall or plaster, then you will need to buy some wall anchors and screws. You can use the washers that come in the kit.

Jules Sherred's picture

Based in Duncan, BC, Jules Sherred works as a food photographer, writer, journalist, and outspoken advocate for disability and trans rights. He is also an instructor, has his work featured in art shows, and is an accredited food photographer. His cookbook CRIP UP THE KITCHEN is due to be published by TouchWood Editions in Spring 2023.

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TLDR: one studio light, an octa, and a reflector