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I’m a professional food photographer who turned my weekend hobby into a career-changing business. I’m also a cat lover, a motorcycle rider and don’t think bay leaves serve any purpose whatsoever.

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Photography Home Studio Equipment

Having a food photography studio at home is pretty badass. It can be a real asset for growing your skills as a photographer and curating your portfolio for your ideal clients. And, with the world transitioning to working from home, this is a great time to start investing in your home studio. In this post, I talk about my photography home studio equipment that I use to help me create beautiful food photography at home.

This post contains affiliate links. Read the affiliate disclosure.

Photography Home Studio Equipment Tips

Photography Home Studio Equipment

Investing in a separate studio hasn’t really made sense for my business. I can easily shoot from my home studio. And, when I say my “home studio,” I am literally shooting in the entryway of my house.

When certain projects need a bigger space, I rent one. And, sometimes I’m not even in a studio at all, because I’m shooting on set at a particular location. Food photography projects can vary so much, but what matters is how you shoot, not where you shoot. Having a home studio has helped me to grow my skills as a photographer, update my portfolio regularly and book a wide variety of client projects.

Benefits Of Having A Home Studio

  1. A home studio keeps your business overhead costs nice and low, because you’re not paying for a separate space.
  2. A home studio teaches you to be adaptable (and comfortable) to shoot in any type of location, which opens the doors for a variety of different types of client shoots.
  3. A home studio teaches you how to problem solve on set and learn that there’s more than one way to do something.

Let’s talk about three important things to consider before exploring equipment recommendations for your home photography studio:

  • SPACE
  • LIGHT
  • STORAGE

1. Space

Knowing what equipment to get for your home studio really depends on how much space you have to work with.

My home studio is located in the entry way of our house. It’s long and narrow and is approximately 8ft x 21.5ft. There’s a large window facing east that lets in quite a bit of natural light. I shoot with artificial lights now, but back when I was a natural light shooter, that large window was a necessity. I use the side closets for storing my surfaces and equipment and have a small closet in our basement dedicated to the props I love.

Think through your space and figure out where you will want to shoot. This may be in one room or multiple rooms, so you’ll want to be sure your setup is easy to adjust and put away.

2. Light

If you are a natural light shooter, you’ll want to be sure that you can set up by a window that lets in enough light to light your subject. I have a great post that shares Natural Light Tips, if you want to check it out.

I was hesitant to try artificial light in the beginning, because I liked how natural light worked for me. It was less gear to think about and since I had that big window in our entry way, I stayed in my comfort zone for a while.

However, learning how to use artificial lights has given me much more control over my images and allows me to create any type of light I want at any time of day and in any location. It was also a huge confidence booster for me and I started booking a lot more client work because of it.

If you are limited with space and may not have much natural light to work with, consider this a sign to start exploring artificial light. I HIGHLY recommend artificial lights for food photography and there’s a variety of lights that could work with your space and budget. Check out this post where I talk about three different artificial lights to consider for food photography.

3. Storage

Having a home studio means you will want to have some dedicated storage space to put your equipment away so it doesn’t completely take over your home. Is there a closet you can clean out? Do you have an empty room that could serve as your storage space? Look around and see what your options are. You might have to get a little creative.

For me, I leave my equipment setup in our entryway most of the time. I am shooting a lot, so leaving it setup is easier than taking it down and putting it back up again the next day. And, since our entry way is sort of separated from the main living room (there’s a wall dividing it), my equipment doesn’t appear to be taking over the house.

For my surfaces and equipment storage, I use the side closets in our entry way. I’ve had to get creative and clean them out multiple times. It helps to keep them organized so I can access what I need easily. I also cleared out a small closet in our basement and added shelving for my small collection of props.

Equipment for Your Home Photo Studio

Now that you’re thinking about your space, lighting and storage, let’s talk about equipment to consider for your home studio. If you’re looking to take your food images to the next level at home, I definitely have some recommendations to help including:

  • TABLES & SURFACES
  • TRIPODS
  • COMPUTER SETUP & TETHERING
  • LIGHTING & MODIFIERS

I’ll also include a summarized list for you at the bottom of this post.

Remember to stay true to your space and budget, because if you have a camera and a good lens, you’re already ahead of the game.

Related Post: My Favorite Lenses for Food Photography

Tables & Surfaces

When thinking about your home studio setup, you are going to need a spot to setup and compose your shot along with some surface variations to work with. You could use your dining room table, but food and drink photography gets messy and the last thing you want to do is mess up your beautiful table or scratch it from switching out different surfaces.

My table & surface recommendations are:

  • FOLDABLE TABLE
  • SAW HORSES
  • REPLICA SURFACES
  • ERICKSON SURFACES
  • TEXTURIT

Foldable Table

I have used a foldable card table in my home studio and it has worked fine. It may not be the prettiest thing, but it’s easy to move around and it folds up flat for easy storage.

Foldable Table

Other options:

Saw Horses

Saw horses are another great option if a foldable table might be too big for your space. You can adjust the width of them to fit a variety of surface sizes. They’re also easy to move around your space or bring on location and they fold up easily when you want to put them away.

Saw Horses for Tables

Other options:

Replica Surfaces

If a foldable table or saw horses might not be the best option for your space, I have been seeing a lot of good stuff from Replica Surfaces.

These are surfaces that are approximately 2ft. x 2ft. with stands that help you create a surface and a backdrop. This size would work pretty well in smaller spaces and they have quite a variety to choose from depending on the mood you’re going for. They are light weight, portable and stain resistant which is a huge bonus when working with food and drinks.

The only thing to keep in mind is that 2ft. x 2ft. is not a lot of surface space to work with and you might start to feel limited when composing your shots. Not all food and drink shots require a lot of surface space, though, so it really depends on the types of shots you want to get.

Other Surfaces & Backdrops

I want to mention some other surfaces and backdrop vendors that I’ve worked with for my food photography. I like these vendors a lot, because there are a variety of moods to choose from and I can create custom sizes depending on my needs. They’re a little more pricey and can be heavier, but I have found them to be worth every penny.

Tripods

Wherever you’re shooting, whether it’s at home or on location, you’ll want to be able to stabilize your camera by using a good tripod. This is really important for certain types of shots that require special camera settings where hand holding the camera isn’t an option. And, tripods don’t take up much space at all.

My tripod recommendations are:

The Oben

The Oben tripod is super lightweight, packs up nice and small for travel and doesn’t take up much space in a smaller studio. It’s not quite as sturdy, but it definitely does the trick. One of my favorite things about this tripod in the beginning was that the legs can flip completely upside down to let you shoot overhead without an extension arm. The downside to this tripod is that you may have to setup overhead shots on the floor and the legs have the potential to get in the way. Setting up on the floor isn’t ideal unless you’re just shooting overhead. If you need to get an angled shot, you’ll have to move the setup up on a table.

Oben Tripod for Photography

The Manfrotto

I love my Manfrotto tripod. This one is a little sturdier than the Oben, but still packs up and travels easily. The legs don’t flip upside down with this tripod, so in order to shoot overhead, you need to buy an extension arm. The original arm on the tripod isn’t very long and won’t reach far enough over your table. I have the Photek Tripod Extension Arm which works really well for overhead shots.

For any overhead set up where you are using an extension arm of some kind, I highly recommend having sand bags on hand to counter balance the weight of your camera. Your camera and lenses can be pretty heavy and the last thing you want is your camera to fall forward and hit the table.

Manfrotto Tripod for Photography

Manfrotto Ball Head vs. Pan-Tilt Head

If you’re considering a Manfrotto tripod, you can explore using a ball head or a pan-tilt head for stabilizing and adjusting the position of your camera. Which one to get really depends on your budget and how precise your camera movements need to be.

Ball Heads are very popular, versatile and easy to setup. They’re awesome for switching camera positions quickly and getting a variety of angles.

Tripod Ball Head

The Pan-Tilt Head is great for amazing precision in three directions: side-to-side, up and down and tilting. The quick release plate makes for a very easy and quick setup.

Pan Tilt Head for Tripods

My Overhead Setup

For overhead shots, I actually have developed a completely different set up in my home studio. Overhead shots are very popular in food photography, so having a special setup for it allows me to shoot overhead easily and use my tripods separately for angled and straight on shots.

I have a full post sharing all the gear for it. Be sure to check it out in case your space could accommodate a pretty awesome overhead setup for food photography.

My simple overhead setup for food photography that results in beautiful flatlay images of food, props and ingredients every time. Click to read more.

Related Post: My Overhead Setup for Food Photography

Computer Setup & Tethering Tools

In the beginning, I would shoot images and review them on the small LCD screen on the back of my camera. After I was done shooting, I would upload the images to my computer and start editing. Unfortunately, the small LCD screen caused me to miss important details that I would have fixed before finishing the shoot. Relying on the LCD screen also caused me to take A LOT more pictures than I needed just to be sure I got the shot. When it came time to edit, I not only would notice missed details, but I also had A TON of images to sort through. While certain projects require me to rely on the LCD screen, others require me to shoot tethered.

Shooting tethered for certain types of projects is a breath of fresh air. I constantly shoot tethered in my home studio. Tethered means that your camera is hooked up to your computer so you can view your images on the bigger screen as you shoot. It’s a huge time saver, because I can review the images on a larger screen, make adjustments on set, edit images as I go and not have to take soooooo many pictures to be sure I got “the one.”

My tethering recommendations are:

  • TETHER CABLES
  • EDITING SOFTWARE
  • TETHER BLOCK
  • REMOTE SHUTTER RELEASE
  • UTILITY CART

Tether Cables

The first thing you need to shoot tethered (assuming you have a camera and a computer) is a tethering cable that will connect from your camera to your computer. It’s important to note that tethering cables vary per camera model, so be sure you get the right cable that is compatible to the ports in your camera and computer.

For example, I have the Nikon D750 and the FujiFilm XT3. These are two completely different cameras, so I have two different tether cables for each camera.

For the Nikon D750, I use the Tether Tools TetherPro USB 2.0 to Mini-B 8-Pin Cable.

For the Fuji XT3, I use the TetherPro USB-C to 3.0 Micro-B.

I get the bright orange 15′ cables so they’re more visible on set. If you need more than 15′, I recommend getting a compatible extension.

Tether Cable

Editing Software

After you have your tethering cable, you will want to get editing software that will recognize your camera. I highly recommend Lightroom or Capture One. A lot of photographers also use Photoshop for editing, but you can’t tether using Photoshop alone. Lightroom may be the best option to start with, because you can bundle it together with Photoshop which is a great combo of software for photographers.

Adobe Lightroom Photoshop Bundle

Tether Block

Another thing to consider having in your home studio is a tether block. This is a plate similar to your tripod plate that attaches to the bottom of your camera so you can secure the tether cable.

The reason I recommend this is because tether cables are pretty sensitive. There’s a lot of moving around on set and sometimes the slightest tug will cause the cable to lose its connection to your camera. The tether block simply prevents this from happening. A lot of food and drink photography is time-sensitive too, so it can be really frustrating lose your tether connection and cause the food or drinks to sit for too long. I use it all the time whenever I’m shooting tethered, especially for a client shoot, to ensure that I never lose my computer connection and the shoot runs smoothly.

photography tether block

Remote Shutter Release

A remote shutter release is a tool that you don’t necessarily need right away, but once you get one, you wonder how you ever lived without it. 😉

The type of shutter release you should get depends on your camera model, so be sure to check that it’s compatible. The one I’ve linked is compatible with a variety of Nikon camera models.

This little tool allows you to fire your camera without touching your camera. It also allows you to get some really fun shots when you are shooting by yourself at home. When shooting tethered, you can fire your camera from your computer, but a remote shutter release allows you the flexibility to be wherever you need to be.

For example, I looooove to shoot drinks and will often shoot swirls, pours or splashes. If I’m on set by myself, a remote shutter allows me to be near the drink to create the splash or swirl and fire the camera at just the right moment. A shutter release opens up the door for some super amazing shots… no team needed.

photography remote shutter release

Utility Cart

Another product I have really enjoyed having in my home studio, especially for shooting tethered, is a utility cart for my computer. I used to just use a chair, but it was a bit clunky to move around and my computer wasn’t exactly “secure” on a chair. The utility cart has wheels so I can move it around easily and then lock it to make sure it stays in place. It also has extra shelves for additional storage. I like having a designated area for my computer to ensure that it’s protected and super easy to move around on set.

computer utility cart

Related Post: My Current Gear for Food Photography

Light Modifiers

Finally… onto the most important part of photography… lighting! Whether you shoot with natural light or artificial light, there are a variety of tools you can have on hand. Light modifiers help you control the light by directing it and shaping it. Some recommendations I have are listed below and I’ve noted what’s for natural vs. artificial lighting.

Modifiers for natural & artificial lighting

I always tell people to stay true to what they actually need to have in their home studio to get the shots they want. You can definitely shoot gorgeous images with just a camera, a good lens and some editing software. But, as you grow and experiment with different types of images, you may want to have more control. If you have any questions about the equipment or have other ideas, feel free to comment below!

Happy Shooting!

Summary List of Equipment

Tables & Surfaces

Tripods

Computer Setup & Tethering

Light Modifiers

This post contains affiliate links which means if you click or make a purchase through my site, I might make a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only promote products that I actually use and support.

All images ©Regan Baroni 2021.

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Food Photography

Business

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Gear Recos

Dark & Moody Food Photography Tips

03

My Overhead Setup for Food Photography

02

How To Improve Your Photography Website

01

Popular POSTS

I’m a professional food photographer who turned my weekend hobby into a career-changing business. I’m also a cat lover, a motorcycle rider and truly don’t think bay leaves serve any purpose whatsoever.

Hey, I'm Regan.

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Regan Baroni Photography, LLC is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

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