View Full Version : Where to shoot your portraits without a studio?

8-Dec-2014, 03:14
Normally I shoot my portraits on my balcony as it has great light from 3 directions and a very beautiful backdrop.
But now that Winter is coming I can't have the model standing there in the cold.

I have a shoot planed from next Saturday, with THE MODEL that I always wanted to work with (Aline Stevens), I don't know where to shoot.
I used to shoot in hotel rooms but the hotels in town will be pretty expensive next weekend.

Any tips to help me out of my misery?

8-Dec-2014, 04:17
Indoors using window light? Or perhaps set up a small studio space in your garage?

A couple of my friends said they went around to local condo's that were for rent and put a deposit down for a key so they could come back with their bf/gf's to look around and instead used it as a temporary studio space. Not sure if they were joking but it might work lol

Or you could always bring a space blanket and some big jackets to keep the model warm in between poses.

8-Dec-2014, 04:34
Depending on wherer you are, you may be able to rent studio space for $20-$50 an hour. Their lights may not be strong enough for LF though.

8-Dec-2014, 06:13
I'm in Brussels, BE and so far the studios that I've seen have been more expensive then that.
The setup will be super simple as I'm going for Irving Penn's Hands & Face composition.
She basically just has to sit in front of a table. Window to one side, reflector to the other. Backdrop right behind her.
I'm shooting a Petzval wide open at F3.5 so light will be manageable.

8-Dec-2014, 19:37
Here's an off hand idea. Go to the sublet/ temporary housing category in Craigslist for Belgium. Look for something available now and offer them a free dinner. I assume you don't need real privacy, just to be left alone.

And yes, there is a CL site for Belgium.

Jim Noel
8-Dec-2014, 20:25
I move furniture aside and photograph all kinds of portraits in my living room from head shots to full length nudes, always with 8x10 or 7x17. The modeling light in a single strobe with soft box is usually my only light source. I am not a fan of flooding subjects with immense amounts of light, but prefer to use nice quality light with the lens wide open or nearly so. Even a 5 watt bulb without a reflector provides beautiful light for a portrait with 100 speed film, when placed correctly.

11-Dec-2014, 00:58
I shoot wherever the light and background are appropriate because I do not shoot with posing talents and setting up a studio is not possible in the remote areas that I shoot (http://endangeredtribes.org). They tend to be consious with the box and gather around the box. Instead, I like to shoot when talents are natural and unaware of my presense. On times, I set up the camera and then leave it for several hours so that they take it granted and release the pin without them knowing. Maybe that is just (weird) me. ;-)

mathieu Bauwens
11-Dec-2014, 03:58
Hello Andre, I'm from Brussels too, so I can understand your light problem just checking the weather trough the window...

What about using window light and pushing your film iso by one step ?

12-Dec-2014, 04:13
Hey, another one :)

The placement of the windows in my apartment is really tricky.
But you're right. It might work with a portable background.

Hello Andre, I'm from Brussels too, so I can understand your light problem just checking the weather trough the window...

What about using window light and pushing your film iso by one step ?

12-Dec-2014, 06:42
Ok, +1 for moving furniture. This is gonna work!
Just need to find a nice grey background now.


Kimberly Anderson
12-Dec-2014, 08:21
Um, that light is to die for.

12-Dec-2014, 11:04

12-Dec-2014, 12:25
Plenty of $50/hour motels around -- many with "studio" lighting banks included.

13-Dec-2014, 05:14
Just found this huge collapsable background in town. Very expensive, but I think it will pay off.
Just need a separation light now.

mathieu Bauwens
13-Dec-2014, 10:34
Seems to be nice.

13-Dec-2014, 11:07
Andre- You could also try to get 2 lightstands and a pole to go across to drape a background cloth.

Something like this is always good to have-


Also, don't be afraid to use mirrors to reflect light onto the subject too! You can diffuse the mirrored light with a bed sheet or etc to make it look like it's light coming from a softbox.

13-Dec-2014, 16:21
Thanks everyone for the great input and for reminding me that I can shoot at home. :)

The shoot went great! By miracle I found exactly the kind of backdrop that I wanted just this morning.
The light came in nice and steady at EV6 for almost 2 hrs. The model was amazing to work with and we had a great laugh at the end.

13-Dec-2014, 16:30
post your results here when you get everything developed! :)

15-Dec-2014, 14:08
that may still take quite some time but here's a digital polaroid.

Let's say it went ok. :)


Kimberly Anderson
15-Dec-2014, 14:57
Ok? Yeah...pretty much. ;)

mathieu Bauwens
16-Dec-2014, 00:41
Light is really great.

Hope you've done something for the light mark on the background ? See on the left side of the picture, next to the model's shoulder.

16-Dec-2014, 00:49
I think it looks good with the light marks but that's just my opinion.

31-Dec-2014, 05:25
I'm afraid the large format shots are nothing to speak of.
The composition are not were I want them and her expression neither.

The MF stuff went better after we both warmed up a little.
Shouldn't have shot LF from the start maybe...

From the Rolleiflex:
https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7486/16105898006_7ae455c36d_n.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/qxdWmE)

A (https://flic.kr/p/qxdWmE) by Andre Mueller (https://www.flickr.com/people/50674652@N06/), on Flickr

Kimberly Anderson
31-Dec-2014, 07:53
Nice job Andre! Now...remember that spot. It is gold.