How to Set Up for a Photo Shoot at Home

Dale Davidson/Demand Media

Things You'll Need

  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • Reflector or white poster board
  • Photography strobe light (optional)
  • Hot lights (optional)
  • Photography umbrella (optional)
  • Props (optional)

It only takes a few items to set up a basic home studio for your photo shoot at home. Whether you're taking photos of family, friends or as a new small business, you can set up a photo shoot in any open space in your home. You can choose to invest in professional photography hot lights or use natural sunlight from windows. If you use natural sunlight, you may also want to use a photo strobe light, which looks like an external flash and attaches to your camera.

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Decide whether you're using natural light or hot lights. Hot lights are stand-alone photography lights mounted on tripods. If you add photography umbrellas to your hot lights you'll need a considerable amount of space.

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Clear a space in your room large enough to accommodate hot lights, if you're using them. Otherwise choose a room in the house that receives ample sunlight and has clear space near the windows.

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Attach the strobe light to your camera if you're using one. A strobe is basically an external flash that syncs up with your shutter.

Dale Davidson/Demand Media

Set up your hot lights and umbrellas, if necessary. Generally you'll just attach the light to the tripod, then attach the umbrella. Each light kit will vary slightly, so follow the instructions that came with yours.

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Set up the camera on a tripod to shoot your subject. Set the camera up to face the center of the hot lights or set it up near an open window to take advantage of natural light.

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Place your subject near the window or at the center of the hot lights. If there are any shadows on the subject's face, have an assistant hold up a reflector or white poster board to bounce light toward the shadow.

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Give your subject props to hold if you're doing portrait photography. This is optional, but you may want to choose an object that's significant to the subject or provide a table or chair to lean on.


  • Use a tripod to prevent any accidental shake when taking photos.


  • Hot lights get very hot, so keep them away from any flammable objects or drapes.


About the Author

Aubrey Kerr is a writer and photographer. With a B.A. in media arts and public relations, she has helped small business owners design and implement online marketing campaigns since 2004. Her work appears on several websites including and the Houston Chronicle.

Photo Credits

  • Dale Davidson/Demand Media