Using Your Garage As A Studio

For those that have been reading along, my last post was about using your living room as a studio.  Now, let’s discuss the use of your garage as a temporary studio space. 

If you’re like me, then you use your garage as a place to park your car(s) AND as a temporary studio space.  In this post, I’d like to contrast the differences between the two types of spaces. 

In your living room, you’re likely to have large or larger windows than anywhere else in your home.  As such, you, as a photographer, can make good use of them.  Garages, however,  generally have one very large opening - the garage door.  It’s a plus if you have other windows but unfortunately I don’t have garage windows at all in my garage, so I make do with strobes and continuous lights.  If you don’t have own either then consider renting equipment from a photographic equipment rental company.  Here in Southern California, I have many choices for lighting vendors and hopefully, you can find a vendor too.

Use of a garage also poses another challenge, useful ambient lighting for setup and teardown of your studio.  In my garage, i have an incandescent and one fluorescent light for the entire garage.  Generally, I open the garage door and illuminate the internal lights for setup and teardown for this reason.  If this isn’t an option consider a standing lamp as an alternative.

A second reason that I like to setup with the garage door open is because of ventilation.  With people, equipment and lights, the studio space can get quite warm even on cool days.  While I’m shooting, I also like to turn on a fan and crack the garage door a few inches just to help the air circulate.  Normally, I don’t open the garage door completely while shooting to avoid the competing light temperatures.  While shooting during the summer months, I’m considering the purchase of a portable, free-standing air conditioner to better manage the climate conditions of the studio.  A number of years ago, I remember shooting a series of portraits during the month of August.  It was hot, the makeup ran and the work wasn’t as good as it could have been otherwise.  Of course, in winter there is the opposite effect requiring the use of a space heater. 

The one thing I love about the use of a garage as a studio space is the cleanup.  Not only can you use an area broom to sweep the entire area within 10 minutes but also you can mop the area too before the shoot.  I nearly always sweep the entire garage before a shoot anyway because I don’t like getting dirt and leaves on my backgrounds and other equipment.  I like to remember that keeping your worksite clean is an expression of both yourself and your work. 

Lastly, when the studio equipment is stored and the cars returned to their places, I like to close the garage door and call it a job well done!