My photography gear with Jessica Gwozdz

Five things about me:

black and white family photography by Jessica Gwozdz

1.  I am a mom of two and am married to MacGyver.  No, that is not his real name.  Everyone just calls him that because he is super-handy.  We rarely have to call repairmen because my husband can pretty much build or fix anything.  You will see several MacGyver-creations in the following photos of my workspace.

2.  I am a PPA-certified professional photographer and I am passionate about studio lighting.  I am somewhat of a control freak and studio lighting gives me that control.  I have permanent studio space set up in the basement of my house.

3.  I come from a mixed-religion family.  I have a Catholic mom and a Jewish dad.  This made for a very rich and diverse childhood.

4.  I have degrees in higher education (bachelors degree in biomedical engineering and a masters degree in mechanical engineering) yet I still tie my shoes with bunny ears.

5.  (cue scary music here….)  I was born on Friday the 13th.

My bag and workspace:

In the past my talented CM Team colleagues featured here have shared their camera bags as well as the contents of those bags.  I think I am the first home based studio shooter to be featured on “A Peek Inside” and since I have some different gear than has been shown before, I thought it might be interesting to showcase those items.  I would like to show you my true “workspace” – not my computer workstation, but the spaces where I shoot and sell portraits.

Before we dive into the gear and workspace details, let’s briefly touch on the topic of my bag.  For a girl who rarely shoots on location I sure have a lot of camera bags!  I think maybe my collection reflects how many years I have been shooting, seeing as though many of the bags I have are no longer manufactured.  Although I am constantly upgrading camera and computer gear, it seems like I keep bags forever and just pull out what best suits my needs at that moment.  Here is my current bag lineup:

  • Tamrac Adventure 8 Daypack
  • Lowepro Novo 5 AW
  • Tracy Joy Reese
  • Jill-e Medium
  • Epiphanie Stella
  • Tenba Shootout Mini
  • Tamrac Adventure 7 Daypack

I get a lot of questions about the studio gear that I use.   Here is a list of my current gear and photos illustrating some of these items implemented in my workspace.


  • Nikon D700
  • Nikon D7000


Strobes and Speedlights:

  • Alien Bee 800 (2)
  • Alien Bee 400 (2)
  • Photogenic PL 1250 (1)
  • Adorama Flashpoint 320M (1)
  • Nikon SB800 speedlight (1)
  • Nikon SB28 speedlight (2)

Stands and Supports:

  • Calumet Backlight Stands (2)
  • Calumet Heavy Duty Background Stand Kit
  • Rolleasy Ceiling mounted roller system
  • Amvona 13′ heavy duty air cushioned lightstands (These are several years old and I don’t think they are available anymore. MacGyver also modified one by putting wheels on.)
  • Several other random light stands I bought at garage sales.

Wireless Triggers:


  • Alien Bee Grids, 10 degree and 20 degree
  • Alien Bee Giant Softbox
  • Larson 4×6 Softbox
  • Photoflex Half Dome Small Striplight (2)
  • Alien Bees brolly box (2)
  • Alien Bees 47″ Octobox
  • Alien Bees Barn Doors (2)
  • Flashpoint 16″ Beauty Dish
  • Assorted umbrellas & gels


Favorite Backdrops:


  • Manfrotto 055XPROB with 488RC2 quick-release ball head
  • Meters:
  • Sekonic L-308S
  • Sekonic L-358

This photo is a glimpse into my shooting room.  The layout of the room allows me to shoot on two perpendicular walls, the orange wall and the pale green wall with the rolls of paper on it.

studio photographer shooting space by Jessica Gwozdz

1 – Larson 4×6 softbox.

2 – Denny Twist Flex 6×7′ background.

3 – Photoflex Half Dome softbox.

4 – Larson reflector.

5 – Pulley bar system by MacGyver.  The bar has velcro on it so I can easily attach velcro backdrops (like Silverlake Color Smacks) and the pulleys make it height-adjustable so I can position it as needed for clamping fabric.

6 – Orange painted wall that I use constantly as a backdrop.

7 – Rolleasy ceiling-mounted roller system

8 – Rolls of 107″ seamless paper, stored on the wall on brackets.

9 – Sheet of white melamine that I use on the floor with my white vinyl backdrop.

10 – A portion of my prop storage area.

Opposite my shooting walls, there are prop shelves and a production/packaging area.  There are lots of shelves and bins to store blankets, fabric, and folded backdrops plus random props and posing devices.  I won’t label everything here but just point out a few highlights.

photographer's prop storage area by Jessica Gwozdz

11 – Lightweight fiberglass fake rocks.  These are really great when shooting outside and I need something for a subject to sit on that blends in with the surroundings.

12 – Photogenic Tony posing table.  I love this for headshots.  It gives the subject something to rest their arms on and it’s height-adjustable.  I tried several other posing tables and returned them all due to poor quality.

13 – Client essentials:  kleenex, baby wipes, and boogie wipes.  I also keep a pump of hand sanitizer there and I am make sure the client notices me using it before I would interact with their kids.

14 – Our old kitchen cabinets and counter.  This is another thing I have to thank MacGyver for.  It was his idea to create this production area for me down in the studio.  The cabinets give me a lot of extra storage space.

15 – Past competition prints with ribbons.

16 -Small hanging bar.  In this photo there are pettiskirts there, but clients will usually hang a change of clothes there.  I also have a folding screen (not shown in photo) that I put up near the cabinets area to create a small private dressing area for clients who want to shoot with different outfits.

Here is my proofing room.  It’s attached to my shooting room.   I have an antique dresser in there as well as a couple of more mod pieces from Ikea that give me a ton of storage room for packaging supplies.  I try to keep the color palette of this room to match my branding colors of brown with little pops of red and lime green.

studio proofing room for photographers by Jessica Gwozdz

17 – Hanging lamp with Ott Light bulb.  The Ott Light provides true neutral lighting and is a place for clients to evaluate the color of frames, album leather swatches, etc.

18 – Basket of press-printed greeting card samples.

19 – Basket of album leather swatches and fabrics.

20 – 46 inch TV.  This is set up to be my “3rd monitor” and is connected via long HDMI cable to the computer at my desk (behind the couch, not visible in this photo).

21 – Album samples.

22 – Jewelry samples.

Just to the side of the couch is a section of carpeted wall.  No, this is not a flashback to 1970.  This is a MacGyver creation for me to display frame corners.  We painted the stairs next to the carpet wall a vibrant red to match my branding colors.

custom picture frame samples by Jessica Gwozdz