Photography space with hosted studio lights

Something that was discussed at ATXHS is the possibility of a small area for photography. This could be useful for members to photograph their products or simply to practice the art.

I have a small photo lighting set-up I am willing to host given the space. Space does not have to be large and could work at one end of the area being turned into a spray room.
The lighting set-up available consists of

  • light stands
  • a softbox
  • a couple umbrellas
  • 3 strobes and cables.

I also have a green mono-chrome backdrop as well as a grey portrait backdrop
I can give classes on how to use the equipment as well as some basic photo technique for portraiture as well as product photography.

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I would absolutely use and contribute to such a space if it were available. I’ve done some artistic photography in the past, but never enough to justify investing in lighting and backdrops; this would be fantastic for me.

In my case, it would complement the other spaces as well. I plan to learn to use the lasers to cut some puzzles; now I could shoot the pictures I would use on them here too.

A setup for product photography has been floated in the relatively recent past. The sticking point I think has been space vs utilization. If we had a few active stewards and regular classes it’d be a lot easier to justify dedication of some space.

So it’s great that you could be available to teach classes. It’d be helpful to outline a curriculum or two so we can poll for who’d be interested in taking the classes and not be limited to people who already know how to use the proposed area.

FWIW a photography area is a thing some of our peer organizations have. It’s not a bonkers suggestion by any means.

One other suggestion I’d make regarding a proposal is considering people without DSLRs/MILCs – strobes are great, but being able to take near-professional-quality pictures of your finished projects with your phone could be a draw (and help our social media too). It wouldn’t take much to greatly improve the “product” photography you can do with an iPhone.

Also useful to know would be the specifics on the amount of space that would be needed. Meaning, when everything is assembled and in use, how much floor and wall space is required? And then also how big are the pieces of equipment when broken down for storage?

To answer a few of the questions…

I could volunteer to steward the space, that’s not a problem. Mind you, I can only commit to being there a couple nights per week.

For classes, I’ve done workshops for clubs and I’ve taught some for my mentor during my apprenticeship. I can teach a range of classes, including DSLR basics (getting off of auto mode), basic composition, basic portraiture, still life and product photography, basic lighting principals… and others. All of the composition and lighting classes can be formatted to use any camera and would include the crucial “minimal focal distance” lesson most people seem to not be aware of.

Space needed can be as little as 8 to 10 feet wide and 10 to 20 feet long. Ideally the walls in smaller spaces would be painted a neutral or black to reduce light bounce, but that can be compensated for with fabric panels, backdrop, etc.

The whole kit, with the exception of the backdrop stand, is in a 37 in. rolling tool box utility cart from Home Depot. The backdrop stand is in a carry case and takes up little space.

I’m happy to meet with anyone interested in further discussions and I can bring the kit in (once I get my car back from the body shop, whenever that happens).

Classes on this would actually be the most useful.

One of the things I did at the beginning of the lockdowns was go have a chat with the folks over at Precision Camera. They actually didn’t try to sell me a bunch of stuff I didn’t need, but gave me VERY good advice about lighting, lighting, lighting, a quick comment about my webcam and human posing and finally some more advice about lighting.

Non-photographers really don’t get that simple things make dramatic differences and that a lot of it is realtively cheap.

It can be super cheap and easy. I did an entire tutorial with samples using things on my desk.

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I’ve read more than once that amateur photographers obsess about cameras while professionals obsess about lights.

@JCicolani being a steward doesn’t mean you’re on-site every day; it means you’re an owner of the area and maybe recruit and orientate some power users to help keep an eye on things. I’d think one or two nights a week would be plenty. As an area lead you’d coordinate with Charlie on things like space planning, maintenance, and budget. As the first area lead you’d have a strong voice in policies and procedures relevant to the new area.

In addition to product photography, there might be some interesting synergies with textiles and cosplay.

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Hello! I’m newish to Asmbly and just wanted to voice my support for this. It would be great to have an area to stage and photograph items that I’ve made. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help out. :grinning:

I should probably add that the same lights can be used for video. Though not as bright as dedicated video lights, they are ample for a small space. This could extend the functionality of the space to a small video studio, as well, for VLOGs, streaming (assuming the bandwidth can handle it), etc.

I have some laser time booked for this evening (9-11PM) if anyone is around to discuss the studio.

I also need to know the next steps for moving forward.

I’d think ambient noise would be a bigger impediment to video use than quality of the lights.

The next steps would be some space planning and firming up a proposal. @stepho can you help with that?

Yup. @JCicolani - I’ll send you a DM

Thank you. I’ll start with some preliminary documentation. I had to postpone tonight’s laser time due to a tornado watch in Pflugerville.

I’ll be in Thursday night but can make arrangements to meet when you’re available.

Thank you.

I walked around the space today, and I admit I just don’t see where we would put this.

Ideally, this would be in the “reduced dust” side of the building, away from the woodshop; otherwise we need to be able to seal it from dust to a degree. It needs to be able to be completely blocked from external light (though putting it where natural outside light could optionally be used might be a plus). And I was looking for at least 10’ by 10’ during use.

We just redid the lobby with the goal of a more inviting and open space, so we don’t want to start partitioning it off again. Plus, there’s nothing really the right shape for that anyway. I don’t know if people would want to lose a corner of the general purpose room, but it’s a possibility. I assume creating a new “attic” space in the woodshop area is a no-go after all the trouble we took to tear the last down, plus I don’t think we kept the scaffolding. Question: what is happening to the left side of the existing attic? The right side is storage, but the left seems unused now. If available and sealed from light and dust, it could work. And I assume the remaining co-working space, now halved, is still for co-working? Also, the plasma cutter is using that entire room while it’s being constructed; would it use it all once finished?

Again, just my immediate thoughts on a walk around. I’d really like this one, but we are hitting our space limits without overcrowding things again.

It looks like we can share space with the new sewing room once a few bits of logistics is figured out. I’m going to start putting together a proposal given that information. That space would provide the light control, with some compromises. But it should work nicely. It’s a clean and quiet space.

@mgmoore - for background on the textiles area, here is the proposal. The interest in the photography area has come up since I wrote that, and I haven’t had an opportunity to update the proposed floor plan.

For reference, the coworking area is that door on the left hand side of the 3D printers, and it’s still locked. Once we can create a new lockable interior door for the coworking cubes, we will take the lock off that primary door.

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@mgmoore there will also be a window added to the door into the textiles area for increased visibility into that space (and hopefully get curious people more inclined to walk in and look further!).

I volunteer as a tribute to your photography walk-through when this is all done @JCicolani lol!

I would be willing to steward and teach photography.

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