One of the biggest surprises I had after becoming a blogger was how much photography would consume my life. Now, instead of just making meals for my family, I photograph every step up until the food goes onto our plates. Instead of just reviewing things, I also take pictures of every single angle and set up scenes in my home.
With my photography degree and the fact that I always have a camera handy, I was actually happy when I realized how blogging would force me to use the more technical information I learned back in the studio in college. I love taking pictures of my kids as much as the next person, but sometimes it's fun to play around with light a little bit to see what you come up with and studio shots give me a chance to do just that.
But, what has changed is the format I use when shooting. I used to shoot all in film, and I photographed subjects on a seamless room painted a matte white. Now, I shoot all digital and my subjects range from face creams to apple pie, usually quickly snapped before we all dig into whatever food or package I was photographing. Obviously, I didn't need a huge studio anymore, but I still needed… something.
A mini roller shade from Blinds.com is what I came up with, situated right by my biggest source of light – the sliding glass window.
If the natural light from the window leaves shadows, I simply bounce a little light on the left hand side using plain white paper. The additional light from the paper helps fill in shadows, and it's really convenient since I always have a notebook handy.
This is a little something I shot with this exact setup above, with no left hand bounce. You can see some shadows, but it's not too noticeable overall. Notice how the mini roller shade has no distracting wrinkles or bulges, and it is thick enough so you can't see through to the furniture beyond the shot? I've tried cheap roller shades in the past for backgrounds and have run into problems with loose weaves, discoloration, and cracking, so I love the Blinds.com RollEase mini roller shade for versatility while shooting and am planning on picking up a few more colors for different types of photoshoots.
Another place I shoot a lot is my porch. You probably recognize it from a billion pictures here on the blog, and that's because I use it for everything. Rain or shine, my wrap around porch has amazing light because it's got a nice large cover over it that makes it full shade all day long. And, the fact that it wraps around gives it light from all sides, which makes it perfect for pictures without harsh shadows.
Here's my porch setup using the mini roller shade from Blinds.com
Note that the big rubber bands used to hold the sides of the shade are more visible in this shot. I experimented with string and twine, but I found that rubberbands work perfect for holding up the shade to hang on windows, chairs, cabinet pulls, etc. In this shot they are hooked to a child's chair and it was very secure, even with my kids running around.
Here's the outdoor shot, taken on the backdrop above. Ignore the fact that I decided to get fancy with the angle instead of simply replicating the shot above, which I had intended to do until my kids started "helping".
Again, there was a bit of a left side shadow, but I love that it grounds the picture a little so the camera isn't floating in the shot. If it had been a professional shot, I probably would have bounced a little bit of light back in, but this worked for my purposes.
When I'm done shooting, I simply roll up the roller shade and secure with the large rubber bands I used to hang the shade. It's nice and compact so it can fit in my photography bag, or I can keep it right by me at my desk for quick shoots. This makes it about 1,000 times more user-friendly than any of my photography backdrops, which involve ironing with each use and take up a ton of space.
To buy the roller shade from Blinds.com, you can start shopping here.