My natural light studio is located in Katy, Texas (20 minutes from Houston).
I have been in this location for four years now but this studio is brand new (built in June 2016) and filled with the most amazing creamy light. If you have visited my site you will notice my style is bright and airy, with predominantly neutral tones.
It was my dream to design a studio that would complement my soft and natural brand. I have to admit I enjoyed the design process and I learned a lot about the little details that make a huge difference.
Because I mainly photograph newborns and babies, it was important for me to keep a consistent warm room temperature. Double windows, a warm floor and the correct heating/cooling unit were carefully planned and designed for the space.
My ideal studio also had to have two walls covered with windows and a smaller area with more directional light. I wanted one of those windows to be used as a decorative element in some of my images so I designed the larger window to have a certain amount of panes. The longer wall has four custom-made, very large double pane windows and since the sun directly hits the studio in the early morning hours, I have installed double panel curtains to filter the light.
My studio is surrounded by a grassy area so in choosing the right paint color, I had to consider this factor to minimize any green cast on my subjects. Pale Oak by Benjamin Moore was the finalist from over 8 possible samples. Often times, other photographers ask me about paint colors and over the years I have learned that there is not one paint color that suits all spaces. Pale Oak, for example, has very gentle pink undertones and it is this hint of magenta that helps minimize the effect of the outdoor greens.
The trim is a neutral white color called White Dove. Choosing the floor was equally as important. I was aware of the durability of ceramics over laminate but I could not find a pure white color in ceramics that would resemble wood planks and I was also concerned about ceramics being too cold and hard when you want to photograph a sweet little baby sitting on the floor. Laminate was the best option for me.
If you are building a studio from scratch, discuss with your contractors the options you have for electrical outlets, recess lighting, and heating and cooling. I knew, for example, I did not want any air conditioner units or split system installed on my walls. This option would have been less expensive but it would have taken me additional hours of editing to remove the unit from my images. I also only wanted the minimum amount required for electrical outlets since I photograph my babies on the floor often and again, I did not want to have to remove them post processing.
The same for light switches which were moved to strategic locations. Even the central air system had to be specially ordered to include a remote temperature sensor that would allow me to hide the control panel in an area where I do not shoot.
You will notice my studio does not have any of my products hung on the walls. This has been done on purpose to allow me to move around freely and shoot my subjects from different angles without capturing canvases or framed prints on the walls.
The main shooting area is over 550 sq ft with a smaller shooting space with more directional light for deeper images. There is also a restroom, a diaper changing area, and a nice sitting sofa for parents.
I have a wide array of neutral blankets and wraps for my newborn babies, as well as two large bean bags, and a wide selection of maternity and baby clothing. It was therefore important for me and my clients to have a walk in closet where moms could comfortably select their clothing. I even planned the installation of a barn door since they are quieter than normal doors.
It is so gratifying to see my clients’ faces when they come into the studio. They absolutely love it. The area is really magical, creamy and it really blends very well with my style and the soft skin of newborns and babies.
One of the things I love about it is that I am able to hold sessions from about 8am to a couple of hours before sunset. My ISO will vary from 100 to 2000 on very dark cloudy days and later during the day. The space is large enough that I can use my Canon 135mm f/2 lens and get an amazing compression indoors. I also love rain and with all the large windows in my studio there is no place I would rather be on a nice stormy day.
I truly believe you do not need a wonderful studio to shoot amazing memories.
But you do need to know the lighting in your space. For my studio, it is still taking some time for me to learn lighting patterns as this is my first winter in this new space. I also suffer from excess lighting on certain mornings, when the day itself is so bright, the light permeates through the windows and bounces around the floor, ceiling, and walls. Blocking some of the windows with blackout curtains is on my project list but for now, one of the things I love about my space is that everything is movable.
The sofa and large chairs are on pads that allow me to move them around easily and the heavy queen bed has been mounted on a pneumatic wheels platform that allows me to move the bed around with the push of one finger. This mobility of objects allows me to position my subjects at the angle I find favorable to capture light as well as shadows.
I am attracted to the notion of capturing natural memories that would transcend the passing of time. Images of you connecting with your little one, with your family, void of distractions. Simple and timeless.
One of the things I miss the most about my own memories, is my presence in them. Thirteen years ago, when my son was born, I was the one holding the camera all the time. Today, I look back at my memories and I am absent.
I also miss my children’s little details: their little toes, soft baby skin, plump lips. It is maybe because of these reasons that one of the things I love to capture for my families is all those little details that are so important to remember and so easy to forget.
And above all, I strive to capture images of mom and dad with their little ones. As I always tell my clients, the images of your baby alone will be for you. The images where mom and dad are holding their baby will be for that baby when she grows up. Those will be her most treasured memories.