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How to Create a Portrait Photo Studio at Home…

how to create a portrait photo studio at home

how to create a portrait photo studio at home

Maybe you’ve decided you’d like to take a family holiday photo or some cute photos of your kids as gifts for relatives, but a professional photographer is out of budget. Or you simply waited until the last minute and need to take some photos ASAP. I've partnered with Olympus today to show you how easy it is to set up a simple backdrop within a small space of your home to take these photos yourself!

how to create a portrait photo studio at home

1. Make your own seamless backdrop. All you need is a wall in your home or garage that gets good natural light that you can temporarily cover. Depending on how many people will be in the photo, the width you need might vary from 5-9 feet wide depending on how many people will be in the photo. If you plan to do this often, it's worth getting one roll of seamless paper in either 5 ft wide to photograph less than 2 people or 9 ft wide for bigger families with 3 or more people.

If you’re feeling crafty, simply buy a giant roll of white seamless paper and go crazy with paint to create the backdrop of your dreams. Or, you can make it easier on yourself by using fabric that already comes in a great color or pattern. Find a bed sheet in a fun pattern or buy a few yards of fabric at a local fabric store.

To hang the background, simply use thumbtacks or blue painters tape to adhere the top and sides of the paper/fabric to the wall, then let the rest of it drape down to the ground with enough room for the subject to stand on it. You'll need at least 10 feet long in total regardless of whether you use paper or fabric. With either option, it's so easy to roll up the seamless paper or just fold up the fabric and save it for next time.

how to create a portrait photo studio at home

2. Lighting is key for taking a good photo easily. You want indirect, natural sunlight especially when taking the photos yourself. A professional photographer might know how to combat harsh lighting with diffusion techniques or with their camera settings, but you want to set yourself up for success. Usually the beginning of day and end of day are the best times to have indirect light, but it will depend on your location and where the sunlight comes through the window.

how to create a portrait photo studio at home

3. Sit, stand, dance, jump! Just because you’re in front of a backdrop, doesn’t mean you need to stand still. If you’re using the backdrop for a baby’s monthly photo, you can have them sitting in front of the wall or laying down on the same background. This makes for a great way to have consistent baby update photos throughout the year because you can use the same fabric as a backdrop and they can go from laying down when they are tiny to sitting or standing as they get bigger.

how to create a portrait photo studio at home

4. Use a remote shutter release. Often people feel limited because they don’t have anyone available to take a photo of them or of their family. So, if you don’t have a friend you could ask, you can do it on your own with your camera and a tripod. The camera we used to take these portraits, the Olympus E-M10 Mark II, lets you turn your smart phone into a remote shutter. So you can control when it takes the photo without relying on anyone else or having to run in and out of frame like a crazy person with a self-timer.

how to create a portrait photo studio at home

5. Add props! While props can get cheesy, it doesn’t have to be a mustache and silly glasses. When you’re taking photos in your home, you have less of an outside environment to work with, so make it fun for yourself and bring in a few quirky items that will allow you to let loose and show off your personality and spirit.

how to create a portrait photo studio at home

6. Family photos aren’t just for families with kids. If you’re a couple or a girl with a cute pup, your friends and family still want to see your face! So use this as a chance to make a great holiday card, framed prints for family, or custom thank you cards. 

You can create this at home studio any time of year especially when you always find yourself saying “I wish I just had a few really good photos of my family”.

how to create a portrait photo studio at home

Let's talk cameras for a second. We are always asked what type of cameras we use for Oh Joy photos. While we will happily share what we use, the quality of cameras we use is a higher end, professional camera that I wouldn't recommend to someone who needs a camera for personal use. So, I was pretty excited to get to try the Olympus E-M10 Mark II which is what was used to shoot all the portraits in this post. It’s a high quality camera at a price point that is more reasonable for personal use (under $600). It allows you to change lenses, you can shoot in manual (if you want), it has a mirrorless lens (which allows you to have a more precise focus), and it's small enough to carry around in your bag. It's a great compromise between a DSLR and a point and shoot and is an entry level camera that has features of a professional one and now I finally have something to recommend to the at-home photographer. Stay tuned for a giveaway tomorrow on Instagram where we'll be giving away FIVE of these cameras!

how to create a portrait photo studio at home

Regardless of what camera you use (you can even use your iPhone if you need to), hopefully this will help inspire you to take more photos of you and your family within the convenience of your own home.

This post is brought to you in collaboration with Olympus. All content, ideas, and words are my own. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that allow me to create new and original content like this for Oh Joy.

{Photos by Casey Brodley, backdrops by Ariel Fulmer. Coco's outfit by Such Great Heights. Special thanks to Olive Brodley and Ariel Fulmer.}


  1. One of my fav topics 🙂 you guys did such a great job at explaining how to create a fun background at home. It makes such a big difference to the pics. Great post, i love the colorful background with the cute doggie!!

  2. The trees, though! I’ve really been wanting to collect these. Where did you find such fun colors? Love these tips. : )

  3. I’m sorry, I couldn’t concentrate on this post. Distracted by super adorable baby and dog in hat/headband.
    OK, concentrating. Trying to read.. good points. Oh no, another cute picture of baby. Nope, nope. Too cute, brain can’t take it.

  4. Thanx for the tips! I really like this post, and want more on photography! And the camera also looks great…but my budget is 200$ max . 🙁 Do you have any recommendation for me? A camera that takes good pics of kids? The pics that I take on my iPhone ands up just a bluer, because my girls just moving to fast and getting out of focuse… Thanks again ?

  5. This is such an innovative and creative idea! I have been wanting to snap some photos of my baby (who is also a 4 legged ball of fluff) for our Christmas photos this year and this is the perfect way for me to get a good shot. I love all of your DIY’s.

  6. Hi Miri,
    Unfortunately, if you want anything under $200, there aren’t really quality cameras in that range. This one is one of the lower price points we’ve come across for a quality camera as most are closer to $1000. The iPhone is actually a decent camera for the price. One tip that my photographer suggested for helping with blurry photos is to make sure the lighting is great as that helps the camera capture motion better.

  7. Great ideas in action as usual, Joy—love it! For larger group shots, you might try hanging fabric from a curtain rod or valence, or for more casual shots, a wall in your yard can be decked out with chalk art as a personal Zed graffiti scene! Also, just wanted to share my webstore link that u might share with your illustrious social net—still one more night for cyber Monday discounts on holiday greetings and gifts! CODE:
    Thx, Joy, you’re the best!!
    Christina Enciso

  8. Great tips, Joy! To avoid putting holes in the walls, you can also use painter’s tape to hold up fabric as long as the fabric isn’t too heavy and you know the edges won’t be in the shot 🙂


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