For our new online Masterclass series, we want to connect you to creatives at the forefront of their industries to empower you to develop your skills from self-quarantine. This week, lifestyle photographer Issy Croker talks us through how to turn your home into a photo studio, it’s the perfect opportunity for those looking to explore shooting their own products. Encouraging aspiring photographers to dust off their DSLRs, the IGTV Masterclass covered camera basics, creating simple sets and how to use composition and lighting to create the perfect photograph:
The camera basics.
Issy has found that her students often rely on the safety net of their camera’s automatic setting when taking photos, but she recommended getting to grips with manual shooting to create the best results.
The basic concept to understand when using manual is the relationship between aperture, ISO and shutter speed - also known as The Exposure Triangle. “Aperture is the size of the hole in your lens, shutter speed affects how much light is let into the camera, and ISO is the camera’s sensitivity to light”, explained Issy but the main thing you need to remember is that they rely on one another. If you change one, you need to change one or both to compensate for the change.” The key to perfecting this technique? Practise, practise, practise.
Your kit set up.
A home studio only needs a few key pieces of kit to create a ‘tethered set up’ – a shooting setup where your camera is directly connected to your laptop. This means photographs are instantly downloaded for editing once they’re taken.
To recreate this industry-standard at home, you’ll need a tripod to give your shot consistent and steady quality – you can still order these easily online. For Issy, Capture One is her go-to photography software: an image library where you can edit, shoot and change all the settings of your camera straight from your laptop. To connect your camera to this software, be sure to do your research on a tethering cable that’ll fit your specific model. Issy also recommends investing in a prime lens to produce sharper images, swearing by her 50mm F/1.4.
Composition & lighting.
These are the elements of photography that are really going to elevate your pictures. “Composition doesn’t just relate to the way things are organised in a photo,” explained Issy, “It also refers to tones and textures, asymmetry and symmetry, light and shadow – lots of elements come together to make the composition of an image beautiful.” She recommended spending time on Instagram and Pinterest to find composition styles that resonate and then using this as a starting base to develop a personal style. As well as composition, using lighting effectively can make an image as clear and sharp as possible – this makes it easier to edit further down the line.
As a golden rule, make sure your setup is as close to a window as possible to bring in natural light. North-facing is ideal for consistent soft light, but there are also ways to remedy harsh sunshine, simply use a thin fabric as a barrier to soften harsh light.
Taking the shot.
When you’re shooting on a tethered set up with a tripod, it’s simple to take consistently perfect high-quality images. Using software like Capture One makes it really easy to make on-the-spot tweaks: you can adjust the contrast, straighten an image and compare it to previous shots without even touching your camera. From here, you can start playing around with the composition and setup of the shot, swapping out props, adjusting your lighting, or even changing your backdrops. Issy recommends Coloramas and textured linen to achieve DIY on-trend backdrops.
A note on editing.
For the final section of the Masterclass, Issy highlighted the importance of editing software: “Whether you’re taking photos on your camera or your phone, it’s a really good idea to get one of the editing programmes.” She recommended Capture One for on-set adjustments and Adobe Lightroom for basic editing and using presets. Lightroom is a popular choice for beginners and can even be downloaded to your phone for on-the-go edits. It’s also a good idea to keep your raw image files on a hard drive - this is an image file without any kind of compression - especially if you need to make more detailed adjustments to an over or underexposed image. Above all, it’s important to remember that photography - like all art - is completely subjective, so use these guidelines to develop an editing style unique to you.