Photography • How-To How to Set Up and Light a Home Studio

Create pro-looking shots from your DIY studio setup

You don’t need a fancy studio to make beautiful photos inside. Whether you’re shooting an artfully composed still life or a new product, I’ll show you how to create a DIY setup using stuff you probably already have at home, then polish your images in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

Headshot of Kendall Plant

I’m Kendall Plant, a designer, content creator, and associate art director at Adobe who loves to incorporate nature, street photography, and even skulls into my work.

Before You Start

Once you set up your home studio, your own photos are good candidates for these editing techniques. I also provided one of my unedited photos if you’d like to try fixing it up in Lightroom.

Step 1: Set the Stage

Find a space with enough natural light to brighten your scene. Sometimes it’s the room with the largest window. In my case, opening the door to the garage let in plenty of afternoon sunlight. Next, create a backdrop for the photo’s subject. If you want to get a little fancy, grab some paper, secure it, and gently slope it to make it seem like the background goes on forever. Props help me see how the lighting affects my setup. For the scene below, I like how the light comes in from the side and creates a shadow that extends from the figurine.

2 photos of a plywood table setup in a garage; one is shown straight on, one is shot from the left near open garage door

Pro Tip: Find a Lighting Assistant

In the photography world, bounce cards and reflectors help light a subject by reflecting a primary light source into the scene. You can use pretty much anything rigid and reflective: a board with tin foil taped to it, a collapsible car window shade, or white poster paper. For this shot, I held a piece of white foam board on the left side of my subject to reflect the light coming in from the right.

Step 2: Take Pictures, Lots of Pictures

When your scene is ready, add some objects and then position and arrange them the way you like. Experiment with different objects, colors, and backgrounds. You can also rearrange things between shots, change your shooting angle, and swap out backgrounds to alter the mood. For this shoot, I used a DSLR camera and a tripod, but a phone works well, too.

Side-by-side photos of garage studio setup; one is shown from the right, the other is shown straight on

Step 3: Finish It in Lightroom

Find your favorite shot and open it in Lightroom. Then use the Edit settings to make some basic photo adjustments. You can instantly see the effect each time you move a slider or change a setting. Different subjects and scenes may need different settings, so experiment to find the look that works best for each image.

Check out the final settings I used to brighten this photo.

Neko figure with red leaves and berries, Lightroom Edit panels shows adjustments made to photo

Step 4: Brush It Off

The Spot Healing Tool comes in handy when you need to remove spots or smudges.

If you’re interested in more advanced background retouching tricks, check out Diane Villadsen’s technique.

Spot Healing brush; Before & after version of a red leaf with a red berry next to it, the berry on the right has spot removed

Reuse and Rearrange

Ready for more? Experiment by stacking colored paper, and get creative with textured or reflective surfaces. Move a lamp next to your scene to see what kinds of lighting effects you can create.

4 still life photos with multi-colored backgrounds and different combinations of colors and objects in each

Note: Project files included with this tutorial are for practice purposes only.

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