Headshot Photography Studio Equipment Setup

How do I start? What type of equipment do I need? Do I have to spend a ton of money? These are some of the questions that plague us when we think about setting up a photography studio for the first time. Wouldn’t it be great if someone just told you what you need exactly? Well, here you go. If you’re thinking about setting up your own studio, Vanessa Joy offers some great tips on what you need to get started:

Joy takes us into her headshot photography studio and gives us the complete tour of equipment she uses. Since her studio is only about six months old, this is the perfect example of what’s needed.


A couple powerful and consistent strobe lights are first on the list. Joy suggests the Profoto D1 or D2 lights so the light quality and color stay consistent.


You can simply use a paper backdrop or a complete wall, your choice. It just depends on what you need and how you need to light your set, as the backdrop can change how the background light comes through and the color.


Softboxes are a must in the studio. They can produce the same soft, directional lighting that you would get from natural window light. Joy uses two 3×4 Profoto softboxes for a Butterfly setup, and to cover a greater area and produce a beautiful, well-defined shadow in the background. She also recommends the 1×3 softboxes if you want to do a hair light, or rim light.

studio lighting

Studio Camera

A camera designed specifically for studio work is great, but not very versatile if you’re on the go. Since Joy is primarily a wedding photographer, she goes for the more portable Canon 1DX, which is nice and fast.


A very important piece of equipment for any photographer. Joy recommends a MeFOTO tripod. Having a tripod will give you the flexibility of setting up your camera and leaving it in one spot as you move freely around the studio. You can weigh it down for increased stability with sandbags or other weights.

tripod stand weights

Minimum of Three Lights

One of the secrets of a breathtaking photo is the lighting. Without good lighting in a studio, you won’t be able to create a sharp and clear picture. Different lights create different effects, so it’s good to be prepared and have options. A minimum of three lights—one background light and two main lights—will ensure you always get good quality of the color and awesomely lit images.

And last but not least…

A comb! This will save you a lot of trouble if you have to change a model’s hair; you won’t have to worry about the oil from your hands making the hair look greasy in the final image if you’ve had to use your hands to keep restyling throughout the shoot.

These are just the basic necessities of a new studio. Of course, you can add to this arsenal or remove a couple things depending on what kind of photography you’re shooting. Let us know in the comments below if you have any other suggestions for someone building a new studio.

For further training: The Headshot Photography Course

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One response to “Headshot Photography Studio Equipment Setup”

  1. Samuel says:

    Thanks for sharing great tutorial. It is really helpful for me.

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