with Courtney Slazinik
Create Your Own Photography Home Studio

I make fun of my little “ghetto studio”, but in reality, it gives me the look I want and it doesn’t cost a lot of money. Studio type portraits are not my particular style, but I do feel that there is an appropriate time and place for them. Because I am not a professional photographer, I am not interested in spending a lot of money on equipment that I will rarely use, so I use what I have readily available. I would much rather put my money toward a new lens!

So, with that said, welcome to my “Ghetto Studio”!

This is a pull back of my ghetto studio. It is fine to laugh at me, believe me, I am laughing with you….

I have a roll of Savage Thunder Gray Seamless Paper (“53) to use as my background. Get ready, here comes the ghetto…to hold the background paper, I use a long piece of bamboo that a rug was delivered on. I’m sure a long piece of PVC would work just as well, as long as it is sturdy enough to hold the weight of the paper. I then thread the bamboo/PVC through the paper and balance it on two dining room chairs. Next up, I pull the paper out far enough onto the floor to provide a large enough space to place my subject. I like a good distance from the subject to background in order to blur the background a bit and make wrinkles/creases a little less obvious. Less time in Photoshop later! Then I use painters tape to hold the backdrop paper into place on the floor. I have used the seamless as the flooring, the actual wood floor, and on occasion a wool rug or fabric.

I have set up in my foyer as well as in my garage. I use all natural light, so, as in any natural light situation, I take a look at my subject and determine how the light is falling upon them prior to setting up. When using a garage or overhang, depending on the time of day, the direction of the light will change, so on different days and different seasons even, the orientation will differ. So, after about a 5 minute setup, here are a few images that I have come up with.

Since there were several questions about what type of blanket/fabric was used in the images, here is the link to the Faux Fur Mongolian Gray Fabric .

  • September 20, 2011 at 8:10 AM

    loved this:)

  • September 20, 2011 at 8:22 AM

    I love it! I actually have a long curtain rod that would be perfect for something like this. Thank you for the inspiration!

  • September 20, 2011 at 8:22 AM

    Awesome! I was just wondering about this ..my boyfriend built me a light box& could easily build a piece like this as well! Thanks for letting me see how you did yours :)

  • September 20, 2011 at 8:54 AM

    Where did you purchase your seamless backdrop? I have researched in the past, but was wondering if you got a really good deal somewhere. Thanks for letting us in on your “ghetto” secret for getting not so ghetto, but soooooooooooo fabulous photos.

    • September 20, 2011 at 10:12 AM

      Awwww! Thanks Amber! I haven’t really gotten any deals on my seamless. I have White, Ivory, and Thunder Gray. I would think Amazon would have deals occasionally. I have never seen it on sale at any of the big name photography equipment stores. I can say I would not recommend White for natural light images. It will either appear blown or gray. Happy shopping!

  • September 20, 2011 at 11:38 AM

    That’s a beautiful in-home set-up! And your ideas are very creative! I don’t really see anything “ghetto” about it, though. Some pretty awesome photographers have actually come from surroundings, or upbringings, that would be considered “ghetto” and have become great successes. Maybe we shouldn’t let ourselves become so desensitized with that word. :-)

    • September 22, 2011 at 10:46 AM

      I know Laurie and she is the sweetest, most kind person that I have ever met. There is no way she is being disrespectful when she uses the word ghetto. I can’t imagine she would ever believe that because something is considered ‘ghetto’ it isn’t good. Just the opposite in fact. She is saying she used things around her house that are not intended for making a photography studio to get amazing results. One of the definitions of ghetto according to the Urban dictionary is this: 4. (adj.) jury-rigged, improvised, or home-made (usually with extremely cheap or sub-standard components), yet still deserving of an odd sense of respect from ghetto dwellers and non-ghetto dwellers alike
      Maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to judge other people’s intentions.

  • September 20, 2011 at 11:56 AM

    Wonderful photos Laurie. Thanks for sharing. Where did you get that rug/blanket?

  • September 20, 2011 at 12:34 PM

    Thanks for sharing. I am a fan and love your kids as well.

  • September 20, 2011 at 1:04 PM

    Love it Laurie! You are so creative!

  • lenora
    September 20, 2011 at 3:40 PM

    Wow, that’s it – Love it!
    Easy enough of a set up for me, thanks for sharing!

  • Karen
    September 21, 2011 at 2:17 AM

    Very creative – who needs expensive equipment?? :) Gorgeous photos and very photogenic children. Thank you for sharing.

  • September 21, 2011 at 2:31 AM

    this is a great post! I did something similar. I’ve emptied my master bedroom to use as a studio since it has the best light in the house. LOL
    Photography is about being creative, right? :)

  • September 21, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    Fabulous, Laurie! Thanks so much for sharing :)

  • March 6, 2012 at 11:44 AM

    Great post!. Simple setup but useful…

  • May 5, 2012 at 10:55 AM

    This was absolutely amazing!! I think this type of set-up was working it’s way into my head. I’m glad I’m not the only person that would do this!! Incredible. I hope to be a professional photographer one day, but like you, I prefer outdoors and a less “studio” style unless circumstances call for it. This was truly inspiring!

  • Sandy
    July 13, 2012 at 12:15 AM


  • Tiffany
    September 19, 2012 at 8:27 PM

    Help! We are having family pictures made in November outside. It will be my husband and I , his 18yr old son and our 6 month old daughter I have no idea what to wear it will be our FIRST family photo so I need help please. Thanks so much Tiffany

  • September 22, 2012 at 6:17 PM

    Great idea! I think I may need to do this. :)

  • Jenna
    January 6, 2014 at 11:47 PM

    I think it’s great!!! It definitely serves it purpose! :)

  • Kristina H
    January 14, 2014 at 8:55 PM

    I want to set up a little studio up in my living room. I have 3 large windows on the north side and a little window on the east side. Where do you suggest I set things up?

    • Laurie Flickinger - Contributor
      January 31, 2014 at 4:15 PM

      Sorry it has taken me a while to get back to you! You can use a doll (or a live subject) and just move them around until the light is flattering. Ususally a 45 degree angle to the light is a nice “pretty” light for portraits. 90 degree is more dramatic. I suggest just playing around with a doll while watching the shadows and catchlights to find the most flattering angle. Hope this helps!

  • Sarah
    April 8, 2014 at 3:04 PM

    I have been attempting my own “studio” with natural light to photograph my kids. (I am a beginner). I have the white seamless paper, 53 in. I have problems with shadows on the background as well as yellowing look to background (which I understand now from your post about the coloring). How do I get rid of background shadows? Also- I find the 53in is not wide enough, I really can only seem to fit my 3 year old in the shot without getting the rest of the room in the photo as well. I am working in a a small room, so maybe I cant backup enough? Do you use wider backdrops for more people? Thanks for your help!

  • Paula
    July 13, 2015 at 10:21 PM

    sorry this comment isn’t about photography, but I really love that door. Where did you get it?

  • Gabby
    February 11, 2016 at 9:42 PM

    I love that door! Can you give more information on it? Whwre did you get it. Brand if possible. Thanks in advance.

  • Nora
    June 3, 2016 at 10:36 AM

    I love the simplicity of your ideas. Thank you.

  • Mary
    May 15, 2017 at 9:27 PM

    You ought to hang up some cheap white chiffon fabric to diffuse the light. It works wonders.

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