Tips on Your Own Portrait Studio: Out of the Darkroom with Ruth Medjber


Hello and welcome to Out of the Darkroom on AdoramaTV. I’m Ruth Medjber and I’m coming to you today from my brand new photo
studio. I’m hoping to share some personal experiences with you, on how I make the
most of this space, for my clients and myself. So one of the things you notice
about my studio is that it’s full of chairs and stools. Way more than any
normal person would actually need. That’s because I find when you bring people
into the studio if you have them standing up straight away they get a bit
stiff and a bit uncomfortable for the first few shots, And you really want to
warm them up so what I tend to do is have them sit down and just sit down
in the space, and you’ll notice instantly that their posture. You know
they’re just a little bit more casual and relaxed, so when I open my first
portrait studio first thing I did was I went to a furniture store and bought so many
stools in red, and black, and white, and grey. All different colors, all different
styles. So that I could match each one to the particular shoot that I was doing.
You’ll notice as well that I always have a couch in whatever space that I’m
working in, because I’ve even been known to bring that into the middle of the
paper and shoot on it. For this particular shot that I am going to show you now, I turned the sofa around, and because I had a toddler that was mad not climbing at
the time, I let her just climb on the couch and then she just saw it like a
little mountain and was delighted as soon as she reached the top of it. So I just
cover the back of the couch with a really nice blanket and throw, let the child
just run around on it and she just got this really great expressive, delighted
face on the kid. Another important thing to have on in the studio I find, is music. I always have a little speaker system playing tunes when people come
in, so that it’s a nice vibrant atmosphere. And then I’d always say to
the people as soon as they come in, what you want to listen to? What do you want to
play? What’s your favorite album? What’s your favorite record and then if they don’t have anything, if you’re
kind of putting them on the spot, then I have range of playlists already
programmed that I could maybe just judge the situation, so obviously if it’s a
young family I’ll have some kind of like poppy or maybe melodic tunes or if it’s a
rock and roll band have something a little bit harder edgier, so match the
tone of the studio of the shoot to the music that you’re playing. It really
helps people settle in straight away. Another thing I’d say it is have the
heat on, have your studio really warm and welcoming, and inviting. There’s nothing
worse than going into a space and it’s freezing. You don’t want to take your
coat off, it should be a relaxing environment. Making people relaxed is your
number one goal in this photo session. So have the kettle on, cup
of coffee, some biscuits. Invite them to sit down on the couch when they first
arrive in, so you’re not rushing them. The worst thing you can do is rush
people through their photo shoot, that they think there’s going to be people
coming in after me, I have to make this quick, I have to get what I want to get.
Forget about that, take your time never over book your studio. Let people
relax and then you’ll see that they smile a lot easier. Always, always, always take your time. I
like to keep the studio experience quite entertaining for people, and there is
times, where I can be with the client all the time. So whether I’m setting up the
light, I’m switching back drops, that kind of thing. I’ll always have tons of
photo books and maybe not even photo books, some like comics and some joke
books, things that keep it light and and cheery. I also think it’s important to
personalize your space so have stuff on the walls. Have your previous photographs,
have cartoons, it’s always nice when you bridge that gap from it being a really
professional neat and tidy experience to a bit of characte. People want to see your
character as the photographer coming through. I think then they’re a little
bit more confident in you and what you’re going to do for them, in terms of
a photoshoot. If you’re photographing people and you notice something that you
know they’re not looking their best for whatever. The way they do their hair is gone fluffy or maybe they’ve got lipstick on their teeth. Tell them.
Because if you tell that person that .. oh hang on. I think you could just, if I can just
change this, if I could straighten your tie they’ll then really respect your
honesty, and go okay well she’s making me look the best that I’m going to be. I can
trust her and therefore I’m going to ease into this a little bit more, and you
just see it instantly people relax when they know that you’re there to make them
look good. Another great shiny toy for people to
have in the studio is a giant mirror. Nothing more easier than just a giant
mirror so that people can always kinda just in between shots can go. Am I doing
ok? Do I look ok? Is this good and once they know that they look good and you
know nothing has like popped off, or gone weird, then they’re a lot happier and
their a lot easier to continue shooting. At the end of the day, it’s your space I
mean there’s no rules per se and what to do in your photographic studio, it’s
completely up to you. The shot that I took here of a local
bank called Little X’s for Eyes they’re all artists and I said, ‘Wouldn’t it
be great if we had a sea of green things in front of you and made you a mountain range and
then we photoshopped in some clouds afterwards’. That’s the kind of thing if
you just run with it, you just shoot it the way you want to shoot it, there’s no
don’t tell you it’s right or wrong even when it comes down to lighting
your sitters, there’s no, there’s no real way of doing it. Yes I mean this
technically correct right ways of lighting things, so they are
beautiful. But once you have knowledge about what light does and what you want in
your own artistic vision, then turn off the lights use candles, use fairy
lights, use whatever you want to get the shot that you see inside your head. For
this shot here of the two lads, from a local band, the only light source here is
the light from the projector that’s the image overlay, and then what I noticed
was when we were doing this shot that we had one of our plugin heaters on and it
was giving this brilliant yellow glow to it. Instead of turning it off, I left it on
because I really like the light that came off it. So this is lit with nothing
but a projector and some glow off a heater. There’s no one to tell you that’s wrong. I mean I’m sure there’s going to be lots of people telling me
that that’s wrong, but you don’t have to listen to them. It’s your space once
you’re comfortable in your photo studio you know where everything is. It’s all on
hand you know what bits and pieces do. It doesn’t matter if it’s right or wrong, you just
do it. You just get the best shots that you want to get in your studio and be
happy there. It’s your space. your space.WeIl that’s it for this show. I really hope you enjoyed this episode if you like to see more videos then
subscribe to the YouTube channel. If you’d like to brush up on
your own photography skills then check out the Adorama Learning Centre,
and if you have any comments or thoughts on the show them please feel free to
leave them in the section below. I do to get your feedback. Thanks and
I’ll see you again soon. Do you want great-looking prints at low-cost? Be sure
to visit our easy to use online printing service. AdoramaPix has
professionals who treat your images with the utmost care that you can count on.
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23 Replies to “Tips on Your Own Portrait Studio: Out of the Darkroom with Ruth Medjber”

  1. Hi Ruth thank you for sharing. Was wondering if there were any considerations made regarding your studio wall color and accent color on the door etc. Your studio color feels warm and inviting. Just wondering if you painted or was it already that way? What thoughts do you have on studio paint color? Thanks, Todd…

  2. Great video, just make sure the client brushes his/her teeth after the biscuits 😉 Don't want to mess that great smile up. LOL Have a Merry Christmas Ruth 🙂 PS I's love to get that necklace for my Wife 😉

  3. Thanks for the useful suggestions. I'll keep them in mind while setting up my own small studio. Can you tell me if you're having any issues with errant light bounce off the walls and ceiling, given the small size of your studio space and the low residential ceiling height?

  4. I'm just starting my own studio and I'm TOO excited! 😀 This video inspired me even more. Thank you!

  5. Merry Christmas Ruth. I hope you and your family had a great day! Thanks for sharing, I love your space and I hope to have my own in the not to distance future (fingers crossed). I love the image with the projector. I've been wanting to get a projector since I left Uni as I can't just borrow one now 🙁 any advice on one with a budget? Thanks Ruth xx

  6. Thanks for presenting your portrait studio and sharing your experience. I got a lot from it and it surely influences me in optimising my makeshift studio some day. I just wonder how large your studio is. Do you mind providing the dimensions (length, width, height)? Also: Do you shoot tethered with the iMac on the small table and let your clients watch the results instantly?

  7. Wow. This has to be one of the most helpful/informative videos on setting up a studio I have seen. Love the relaxed approach. Thanks for taking the time to film this.

  8. Love this video and your attitude! Thank you! I turned my living room into a small studio and your video helped me even more with ideas and inspiration! Now, I gotta go find a nice couch……

  9. What a delightful helpful video thank you. So simple but amazing results loved it

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