The right photography studio equipment is critical for starting a successful studio photography business. So what photography studio equipment do you need to launch a new photo studio? In this guide to studio photography equipment, we share tips from industry professionals on what equipment is essential for a photo studio in 2023.
The photography studio of your dreams can be possible without huge start-up costs; this guide focuses on the essentials of what you really need to get started. You can use this equipment guide as a checklist to make sure that you have everything that you need before launch. As your studio business grows, you can add more equipment and invest in the latest photography tech and cameras.
Starting A Photography Studio Business
Photography studios can vary in size from a backdrop in someone’s guest bedroom to 3,000+ sq ft loft luxury photo studio NYC locations. For this photography studio equipment guide, we took a look at what equipment professional photography studios keep in-house.
There are lots of different types of photography studios; including portrait photography, product photography, art photography, and more. We tried to be as comprehensive as possible in our guide to studio photography equipment and include affordable options for photography entrepreneurs on a budget.
Getting started in the photography studio business can be confusing if you do not have a direction to go in. Our helpful guides for starting a photography studio business can help you make sure that you are checking all the boxes throughout the process.
Here is a list of the essential photography studio equipment including lighting, location, cameras, backdrops, and more.
Photography Studio Equipment Checklist
- Studio space
- Lighting accessories
Whether you want to create a dedicated space in your home to capture your artistic vision in photographs or you want to launch a full-scale brick-and-mortar studio photography business; this photography studio equipment guide can help you make sure that you have the equipment that you need to launch. This guide is designed for beginner to intermediate photography professionals who are getting started in the photography studio business.
Shooting in a studio environment can differ greatly from natural light photography and live event photography. This guide to photography studio equipment can help prepare natural light photographers for what to expect when transitioning into the studio photography space and shooting in a photo studio for the first time.
1. Studio Space
The first thing you need to have lined up in order to launch your photography studio is a studio space. Photography studios can be surprisingly versatile, so if you are working on a budget get creative with what you can do with a space.
A home photography studio can be a legitimate smart business move for some photographers, but some people prefer to keep work and home life separate. Working in a professional studio space can help elevate your photography services and create better final products.
There may not be enough room at home or there are limitations on what equipment you have access to. Renting a studio space and investing in essential photography equipment can enable you to create the photos you want and build a strong photography business.
If you want to start a photography studio the first thing you need is the studio space and the second thing you need is the camera. You do not necessarily have to have the best or the newest camera of 2023 to have a successful photography studio. However, having a camera that takes professional-quality images and that you know how to use is important.
The type of cameras that you will need will depend in part on what kind of photography you plan on doing in the studio. Certain cameras shine more for different types of photography. For example, you may want a DSLR that doubles as a cinematic video camera if you plan on offering videography and photography in your studio.
In addition to the camera itself, you will also need a variety of lenses. What kind of lens and what focal lengths you need will vary, but for almost all types of studios, you will want to have a lens for close-up, mid-range, and wide shots. For portrait photography, a 35 mm or 50 mm will probably do, but for close-up product photography, you may need a special lens for macro photography.
Here are 3 questions to ask yourself when shopping for a camera for studio photography:
- Do you need a full-frame camera or a micro four-thirds?
- What kind of photography does your studio focus on?
- What is your budget?
The third thing on our list after the studio space and the camera is lighting! Some photo studios have large windows that let in daylight, but for the most part photography studios rely on a variety of indoor studio lights. Having good lighting for photography is one of the top factors for having a successful photo studio.
Poor lighting in a professional photo studio is pretty inexcusable; so what lighting equipment do you need to get started? To get started with a photography studio business you generally need to have at least two continuous lights (with adjustable stands). In addition to your two adjustable main lights, it is also a good idea to have some colored lights for photographing creative concepts.
Lighting accessories, such as light stands and umbrellas, may come as a part of a studio photography light kit. The best type of lights for studio photography are LED lights because they do not overheat, they last for a long time, and they are environmentally friendly. LED lights will help keep your photography studio from running up a huge light bill.
Investing in high-quality lighting equipment can make the shoots go a lot more smoothly. Metal light kit stands can be heavy, but if the metal is not sturdy enough it could bend or fall over easily.
Photography studio equipment lighting options:
- Continuous LED lights
- Strobe lights
- Adjustable light kits
- Colored lights
4. Umbrellas And Diffusers
Another thing you will need to get started with a successful photography studio business is a combination of umbrellas, diffusers, softboxes, and reflectors. You may think that diffusers are not essential photography studio equipment, but harsh lighting from a bright continuous light could completely blow out a shot and ruin a shoot. Having a few different diffusers, reflectors, and softboxes handy for professional photo shoots can help you to always achieve the professional lighting results you want.
A high-quality tripod can make photography studio shoots go more smoothly. The tripod does not always get the appreciation it deserves; tripods are essential for taking steady, straight professional shots. We would be remiss to not mention tripods in our guide to photography studio equipment.
Studio photography equipment can include tripods, monopods, gimbals, and more. You should have at least two tripods to get started with your photography studio so that you can have two camera angles if needed. The tripods need to be sturdy enough to hold your cameras without falling over and tall enough to successfully capture the necessary images.
Here are a few factors to consider when shopping for tripods for a photo studio:
- Tripod head
You can hang up a cheap white backdrop for around $20 to get you started, but as your photography studio grows investing in better backdrops can help produce better photos. In addition to the backdrop itself, you will need a backdrop stand and/or some clamps to hold the backdrop in place. You do not want the backdrop to fall on a client, so always make sure to set the backdrop up correctly.
A high-quality backdrop stand will be lightweight enough to be put together easily, but sturdy enough that it does not fall over easily. For backdrop colors, you will want to have a solid black and a solid white backdrop to start. Green screen backdrops allow you to quickly edit in different backgrounds and are a must-have if you plan on offering videography at your photo studio as well.
7. Photography Props
The final thing on our list of photography studio equipment essentials is props. Photography props can make photos more interesting and beautiful. Prop ideas include pillows for newborn photography, pet accessories for pet photography, chairs to sit in, etc.
There are many more photography accessories that you may need like memory cards, carrying cases, adapters, power chords, etc; but these seven essentials for photography studio equipment are what you need to get started. If you are a beginner to intermediate photographer, you may want to get more practice with studio photography equipment before opening your own studio. GreenlightGO connects photographers with the top photo studios Los Angeles to NYC.