Okay first of all, what is a portable portrait photography studio? Well in order to take great portrait photos, portrait photographers have studios stacked with equipment that they use to create their work. To mention but a few, you have: studio strobes, softboxes, canvas backgrounds, tripods, reflectors and more. The issue is that all of this equipment tends to be quite heavy, and bulky as well, which makes it really difficult and cumbersome to transport.
So let’s say that you need team headshots for your business, well it might be impractical, and too time consuming for you to send the whole of your team to the portrait photographer’s studio, so how does the photographer bring the studio to you?
Well, luckily enough there is plenty of equipment that has been designed specifically to be easy to carry and the portrait photographer can bring all the necessary equipment to your offices and set up on site.
WHAT DOES A PORTABLE PHOTOGRAPHY STUDIO LOOK LIKE, AND WILL IT FIT AT MY OFFICES?
There are plenty of different variations and equipment, with each photographer having their own preference as to what equipment they buy and how they set up their own portable portrait photography studio.
Said that the main components will be (without including cameras and lenses):
Studio strobes (see picture below) come in different sizes and there are plenty of companies out there now making them smaller and smaller to make it easier for photographers to carry them.
Then you have softboxes (see pictures below), which are used to soften the light from the strobe, and the larger the softbox, the softer the light. So, how do you carry with you a 4 feet softbox? Luckily there are companies that make what are called “foldable softboxes”, or “pop-up softboxes”, which can easily, and quickly be folded away and carried with you on site.
Let’s now talk about photographic backgrounds. How do you carry with you a background that measures 5 feet by 6.5 feet? Well there are many companies that have now started producing easy to carry backgrounds, and the most common of them being the “pop up background”. They come double sided (e.g. white and black), and they can be easily folded down to an easy to carry size, in just seconds (see pictures below).
Then you have reflectors as well, and the larger the reflector the more light they will bounce up. The one I normally use in the studio measures roughly 4 feet in diameter, but it can easily be folded away, just the same as the photographic background (see pictures below).
Last but not least, light stands (see picture below). All of this fantastic equipment will need to be supported by something, and that is where light stands come into place. They will be used to support the studio strobes, background, and reflectors. Some light stands can be quite big and heavy, which is good when working in studio with heavy equipment, but luckily enough, there are plenty of smaller and lighter light stands, which have been specifically designed to be easy to transport (see pictures below).
So how will all of this equipment fit in your offices?
Well, look at the picture below, my portable photography studio can be set up pretty much anywhere, and all I need is about 7 by 10 feet of space.
BENEFITS OF A PORTABLE PHOTOGRAPHY STUDIO FOR TEAM HEADSHOTS
You might be asking yourself, isn’t all a photographer needs a camera? Well not really, with only just a camera you’d be relying solely on natural light, and even though some of my favorite photos have been taken with just natural light, that is not always a viable option. That is because first of all in order to take great photos with natural light there needs to be good lighting to start with, and you do not get good natural light the whole day, and depending on the location and weather conditions, you might not get that at all. You will also need a suitable natural background for the photos, and even gorgeous looking offices, from a photographic standpoint, might at times not be the best background, due to lighting and other considerations. However, a portable photographic studio can easily be set up virtually anywhere, and it will allow me to work within the same controlled setting that I use at my studio, and deliver high quality photography on location.
PORTABLE PHOTOGRAPHY STUDIO VS NATURAL LIGHT
Like I was saying earlier, some of my favorite shots have been taken in a natural setting, using solely natural light, and if there is the time, and the conditions are right, it is possible to do both, but it is important to know the advantages of each in order to determine which is better for you if doing both is not possible.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of a portable photography studio?
Advantages of a portable photography studio:
It can be quickly set up virtually anywhere
Professional lighting will guarantee high quality photography
You can select which background you want and obtain a more standardized look
It is easier to arrange as you are not reliant on natural light only, and you can shoot at any time of the day/year, and independently of the whether, or the look of your offices, or surrounding area
Ideal for team headshots
Disadvantages of a portable photography studio:
A plain background is less unique than a natural background, and taking a portrait in a natural environment can help setting the scene and complement the photo.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of a natural background?
Advantages of a natural background:
It can be more unique
It can give a glimpse of behind the scenes
It can help tell the story of your company
Ideal for corporate portraits
Disadvantages of a natural background:
You are often relying solely on natural light
If the available natural light is not suitable, than the photographer will have to use a strobe, and mixing ambient light with strobe light is not always straightforward
As the lightning conditions change throughout the day you might not be able to to take all the shots in the same spot
In conclusion, having my portable studio with me allows me the option to always get the job done, and deliver excellent work independently of the situation. Once the studio has been set up I can work fast, and especially with team headshots you can achieve a more uniform look for your team. Said that, the backgrounds I use can be flipped around if you prefer a less standardized look for your team, and different colors can be used. Shooting with a natural background can be more challenging, as I won’t know whether or not the location is suitable until I am physically there, and as the lighting conditions change throughout the day I might have to move to a new spot, or use a strobe, which depending on the existing light, can at times be challenging or even impossible. However, a natural background is much more unique, it can complement the photo, and help tell the story of your company. This works very well for corporate portraits, and it is ideal if you want something unique, and time is not a concern.
About the author:
David Tramontan is a professional portrait and headshot photographer based in East London.
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