Eugene, Oregon Portrait Photographer: The Studio

I opened my studio at the end of March and am just now getting it to where I like it and pictures taken.  I've moved things around at least 3 times and change little things up after every shoot.  I'm getting to where I'm pretty happy with my setup and wanted to share.

We didn't have a large budget for the studio and used our tax return this year to fund the construction and furnishings.  I already had almost all my current props, backdrops, blankets, lighting and equipment.  But my house was running out of space to hold it all!  And it wasn't my favorite thing to pack up my car for sessions and setup makeshift studios in clients homes.  It worked, but it wasn't easy and I was limited to the number of backdrops and props I could bring.  And with being in Oregon, chances of wet weather are pretty good 9 months out of the year, so it is not always an option to have outdoor sessions.  We felt this project would be a good investment and should get me through the next 5+ years of my business.  I'm hoping by then, I will have grown enough to actually lease a larger studio space in town and then we can always use this space as personal storage.  So we felt either way, it was a good move for us.

A natural light studio was not in the budget--windows are expensive!  And it would have been difficult to build in the right location on our property for the best lighting.  So I knew going into this project that I would be using studio light.  I invested in a Westcott 50x50 softbox and an AlienBees B400 strobe a couple months before starting the project.

I found a post on Pinterest about a photographer that used a shed kit for her studio.  My husband and I were originally thinking of converting our guest room/office/playroom into a studio, but then I shared that blog post with him and he thought it was a really good idea.  Yes, it was a larger investment, but it would be nice to keep our space in our home and to have the studio separate from the house.  So we started price comparisons to see what the best route would be.  We aren't super handy people, so we didn't even think about buying a kit and putting it together ourselves, so we were looking at what a shed installed would cost.  We decided we would keep it under 200 square feet and less than 10 feet high average--this would mean we wouldn't have to get a building permit and inspection from the county/city.  We talked over with a friend who had experience with construction and he said to save money, for now, we could run an extension cord from the house, drill a hole through the shed and get power out there that way.  This friend, and another, also agreed to help with the final construction in exchange for photo shoots for their families :)

Tuff Shed came out and built the shed for me in 4 hours!  It was a kit that was mostly assembled in a warehouse and then put together on my property.  We have a section that is leveled with gravel at the back of our RV parking area that was perfect to fit a 12'x16' shed.  We went with the Premier Pro Ranch.  The plan was to go with just a regular Ranch shed, but it wouldn't allow for insulation and drywall because there wasn't enough ventilation.  So we had to go with the Premier Pro.  I'm happy we did--it's much taller inside, so it feels roomier than the other model would have.  Because of the higher cost model, I did need to do away with a couple things I originally wanted.  We didn't have it painted to match the house.  It is actually just primer on the outside, but their primer is a tan color, so it actually doesn't look too bad.  The plan is to paint it to match our house next summer.  Also, we went away with having a window and the standard shed door.  We got a real man door, which actually I'm really glad we did because it feels much more like a studio/real building, than a shed with it.  And since I wasn't getting the window, I was concerned about it feeling like a box in there, so I got the man door with the window panes.  Total bill through Tuff Shed was $5657.

After that, it was up to us to finish.  Our friends helped us get all the supplies we would need.  I put up the insulation on the walls, our friends and my husband put the insulation up on the ceiling and hung the drywall and mud.  I sanded, did the texture on the wall, and painted.  Total for everything but the painting supplies was $980.

I originally was just going to stick with the epoxy floor that the shed kid came with, but after seeing it  on the floor model at the Tuff Shed office, I didn't like it and I didn't think it looked very professional.    I found a great deal on some clearance vinyl flooring that looked like wood from Lumber Liquidators.  It is called Donar Oak and came to the amazing price of $132.63 with the additional purchase of one transition piece for the door.  I bought the suggested amount for a 196 square foot room and ended up having one extra box.  Two friends installed that for me at the 11th hour!  It came in a few days before the grand opening and they installed it the night before.  I then quickly set everything up late that night so it would be ready for my first session at 10 a.m. the next morning.

For furnishings, I pretty much got everything at Ikea.  Shelving, chairs, bookshelf, changing table, scarf holder, and the curtain rods and drapery clips I use to hold headbands and hats.  That total bill came to $645.  The last bill was for the home improvement store for painting supplies and then any other odds and ends we needed.  I used furring strips and large hooks to hold my backdrops--I just used a staple gun and stapled the backdrop right to the wood.  I then use clamps and clamp it to my backdrop stand.  If I use them as floor drops I put the wood on the other side of the backdrop and behind my faux molding strip and it helps hold it all in place.  For my seamless paper, I used more large hooks and metal conduit piping.  I also invested in a dehumidifier and wall panel heater.  I will need to get a portable air conditioner for this summer, I'm sure.  All of those items came to $260.  So my total cost not including props, lighting and equipment came to about $7675.  This of course doesn't include "labor" which I did as trade for photoshoots :)  I also bought my helpers a thank you gift as well.  We seriously could not have made this happen without them.

So here are the after pictures :)  So happy with it!

For my vinyl and polypaper backdrops (4' and 5' high)

For my seamless paper backdrops.  Also the plexiglass I use over the seamless for cake smash sessions.

I use that one for One Year sessions but it is a cute shelf too :)

All my wraps and changing table area.  That is the wall panel heater under the one.  And below that is where we brought in the power cord from outside.

The boy and gender neutral hats, ties, etc.

Small seating area.  The bookshelf and wall hold most of my studio samples of my product.

This is where I set up for newborn sessions

My girl hats, headbands, necklaces, rompers, etc.

Looking in from outside.  My shelves for props, blankets and furs.  And my two maternity gowns hanging.


  1. So beautiful, I love it! Thank you for sharing, you have some great tips :)

  2. I'm really inspired! It looks great!