Professional Studio? Bah! Try This at Home

You'd think a big-name photographer like Lise Gagne would have a gigantic studio that spans a city block. After all, with her stock photo income, she can afford it.

But instead, iStock's top-selling photographer does most of her shooting in the downstairs of her home. And today, we spent half of the day there, shooting Christmas stock images on a six-foot table.

Bonnie here, again, writing from our stock photo workshop here in Lise Gagne’s personal photo studio.

We've learned so much in one day -- people keep saying they've already gotten what they came for -- but maybe the most encouraging thing we've learned is that stock success doesn't have to be a big, complicated production.

You can shoot professional, saleable images right on a card table with some cloth for a background and a few Christmas decorations from your attic. Lise does it all the time.

Here are a few of the photos attendees got shooting Christmas items on a table… and then later throughout the day:

Attendee Photos
by Caroline Maryan

by Diane Simpson

by Kim Wilson

by Caroline Maryan

It's easy to set something up like this in your basement or kitchen with studio lights or even cheap shop lights from Home Depot. The most important part is your composition. Here are a few tips Lise gave us for getting it right:

1. Take time for set-up. When you're putting a scene together, think about your purpose. Then look through the viewfinder in your camera as you put the scene together to see how it looks before you start shooting.

2. Keep it simple. The simpler, the better when it comes to stock. Don't try to load your image full of items and knick-knacks when one single ornament can say "Christmas.", and a few well-placed elements can say "spa."

3. Try lots of different angles. Mix it up. Don't settle for the first shot or two.

Oh, and if you take some Christmas images, try throwing some glittery fake snow in front of the scene for a fun, festive look.

Of course, don't be afraid to get creative with the other parts of your house, too. Later in the day, we photographed Louis dressed up like Santa playing electric guitar and jumping around in the living room… then we set up a tent in the back yard and photographed a camping scene with a little girl and a giant teddy bear. (Yep, that's me in the suit.)

Tomorrow: Mad scientist shoot indoors, creative period costume shoot outside in the yard. Stay tuned for more try-this-at-home tips from the pros.

-- Bonnie

Bonnie Caton
Great Escape Publishing

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