The question I often get from aspiring headshot photographers is, “How can I set up a professional looking indoor photography studio with no space?”
I always laugh whenever someone asks me this question because it is just as though they had asked me, “How can I make butter without any heavy cream?” But the interesting thing is that I just figured out how to do it. As I'm sure many of you know, I recently moved into a new location uptown in Manhattan. The new location was slightly smaller than the old spot (the economy, sigh!) and therefore, I had to figure out how to successfully put together my studio in a much smaller space. Fortunately, I already owned all the equipment necessary to put together a studio. The problem became, how could I fit it in a tiny little room?
The answer suddenly hit me: it's all in the camera lens.
Another article I wrote a while back referenced how to build a studio inside of an apartment. It talked about the lenses that you can use on your camera, and which ones are most effective for headshot studio photography.
The key to building a studio with no space is having a lens with an extremely shallow depth of field that is fairly sharp, but also decently telephoto because you want to make sure the background is not a wide area. Standing further away from the subject compresses the objects in the background and cuts out things from the sides of the photo.
Of course, you have to have enough room to shoot with a telephoto lens, which is why I actually shoot through a door into the studio. I stand in an adjacent room so I have some extra shooting space to use a telephoto lens. Then I am able to minimize distracting things on the side, while also getting excellent blur because of the wide aperture. This helps with the sometimes less-than perfect background I use, removing any of the creases and folds in it.
The best lens I recommend as of now is the 85mm f/1.8, but if I had the money, I'd definitely buy the 85mm f/1.4. Preferable over that even, would be Nikon's 200mm f/2.0, with a full frame camera. Unfortunately that lens costs about $5,000 and you definitely need to stand a ways back... which kind of defeats the purpose of having a tiny studio!