What’s In My Studio?

 

 

 

Updated: August 29, 2013

I remember when I first started out in Photography and wanted to get serious about it, I had lots of questions about what to buy? No one wants to make a  large investment in the “wrong gear”. I often get questions from New Photographers or Photographers looking to set up their 1st studio, asking what equipment should they get? That’s a hard question to answer without knowing what you plan on shooting the most, your space and your budget. My primary focus is Portrait – (Beauty, Fashion & Glamour). Rather than trying to address every single situation individually I thought it would be easier to share with you the equipment I use and then you can take it from there. I have a 4,800 sq foot studio space and yes I LOVE IT! If you see something you think you’d like to have in your studio then you can just go ahead and get it.

 

 

Cameras

Nikon D4 DSLR Digital Camera (Body Only) –  – My primary studio camera

Nikon WT-5A Wireless Transmitter – I sometimes shoot wirelessly from the D4 to my MacBook Pro and into Lightroom 4

Nikon D600 DSLR Camera (Body Only) – My travel Camera and backup body

Nikon WU-1b Wireless Mobile Adapter – For shooting wirelessly to my iPad or remote triggering from my iPhone.

Meike D600 Battery Grip – I love battery grips when doing portrait or extended location shoots.

Camera Straps

Your DSLR most likely came with a camera strap and in big bold print it advertises the brand and model of your camera. It’s like saying to the world, “hey, I’ve got an expensive camera right here. Come steal it!” I prefer something a little less flashy and more versatile.

Up Strap – I like this one for travel and photo walks as it will NOT slip off your shoulder.

Black Rapid R-Strap – I like this one for photo walks and when I’m using longer lenses, heavier bodies.

OP Tech Super Classic 3/8 – I also like this one for travel.

Point & Shoot Cameras

Canon S95 – My point & shoot primarily used for concerts where DLSRs are prohibited (I’d either get the Nikon Nikon 1 V1 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 10-30mm and 30-110mm Lenses (Black) or Canon PowerShot S100 Digital Camera (Black) now)

iPhone 5 – Yep, I use this one almost as much as my DSLRs because it’s always with me. While the S95/S100 is a better P&S camera, the iPhone is ALWAYS with me. I even created an “iPhone Photography Portfolio” here.

Spiked

Lenses

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II Lens - My primary lens

Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 – An older lens I got off eBay a few years back. The current Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Autofocus Lens (Black) replaces it.

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Zoom Lens – My main travel lens

Nikon Telephoto AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.4D IF Autofocus Lens  Mine is the older version, today I’d get this version. – I use this mostly in natural or low light situations and portraits

Nikon AF-S Zoom Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED AF Lens – My wide angle lens mostly used for landscape shoots.

Nikon 10.5mm f/2.8G ED DX Fisheye Nikkor Lens – Mostly used when I travel and do landscape shoots

Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro Lens – I use this for those rare occasions when I shoot closeups on products, hands/nails and jewelry.

Mamiya 72mm Rubber Lens Hood – for my Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII Lens.

 

Lighting & Light Modifiers

I use Elinchrom for my strobes and Westcott for my continuous lighting. I use Nikon speedlights for air travel or my Elinchrom Quadra kit for local on location shoots. With each lighting system I use a variety of modifiers. My favorite is the Octa softbox.

2 Elinchrom Digital Style Combo 600RX Two Monolight Kit with EL Skyport (120VAC) – Portrait lighting <- I want 2 more of these

1 Elinchrom Style BX 500 Ri Compact MonoLight (90-260VAC) – Portrait lighting <-but I’ll probably just go with 2 more of these instead since they’re so much cheaper.

1 Elinchrom Midi Octa Light Bank for Flash Softbox

1 Elinchrom 39″ Mini Octa Lite Bank Softbox Softbox for on location shoots

1 Elinchrom 27.5″ Rotalux Deep Octa Softbox – great for quick falloff of light

1 Elinchrom Rotalux Softbox 27 x 27″ (69 x 69 cm) Softbox

1 Elinchrom 17″ White Minisoft Reflector for Elinchrom Beauty Dish and Impact 18″ Diffuser Sock

2 Elinchrom Rotalux Softbox for Flash

1 Lastolite Kickerlite Floor Level Softbox – 3×4′ (91x122cm)

Elinchrom Ranger Quadra Head S Pro Set – For my on location shoots.

Elinchrom Skyport SPEED Transmitter to trigger the Elinchrom strobes

2 Westcott Spiderlite TD6 2 Light Perfect Portrait Kit Deluxe (110V) – For Portrait and Product shots – Continuous Lighting

I still have some Westcott Spiderlite TD5’s that I primarily use for video or backup.

1 Westcott SkyLux – used for portraits, product shots and video shoots

Westcott Ice Light – used for portraits and creative lighting.

1 Lastolite Triflector MkII Kit – White/Silver – used a lot in my portrait work

1 Westcott Shallow Softbox 54 x 72″ (137 x 183 cm)

1 Westcott Shallow Softbox 36 x 48″ (91 x 122 cm)

1 Nikon SB900 Speedlight – For travel (get the Nikon SB-910 AF Speedlight i-TTL Shoe Mount Flash now)

1 Nikon SB800 Speedlight – For travel (get the Nikon SB-700 Speedlight Shoe Mount Flash now)

2 PocketWizard Plus II Transceiver / Radio Slave for the Nikon Speedlights

wpid11853-TLW4651_sm.jpg

1 Westcott Terry White Travel Portrait Lighting Kit <- Yes it’s named after me! Woot!

1 Lastolite Ezybox Hot Shoe Softbox Kit – 24×24″ for Travel <- my old travel kit

1 Westcott Rapid Box 26″ Octa for Travel

1 Zumbrella shoot thru umbrella for Travel

2 sets of ExpoImaging Rogue FlashBender Kit for Travel

2 Matthews 24×36″ Flags

1 Westcott 7′ Parabolic Umbrella (White Diffusion)

1 Westcott Reflector – 48×72″ – Gold, White (white on one side, gold on the other)

1 Lastolite HiLite Illuminated White Background (6 x 7′) – for high-key fashion work. I put the cheapest strobe that I could find in it and set it to slave.

2 Lastolite TriGrip Diffuser, Two Stops – 48″ (1.2m)

A variety of different light stands, but I did invest in a couple of good ones on wheels: Avenger A5033 Folding Base Wheeled Studio Stand

and a great 40″ Boom Arm

 

Tripods

Manfrotto Tripod (mine is discontinued, this one is the closest to what I have – Manfrotto 055CXPRO4 4-Section Carbon Fiber Tripod Legs (Black)) – This one stays in the studio, but I rarely shoot portraits with a tripod.

Gitzo GT1542T Series 1 Traveler 6x Carbon Fiber 4-Section Tripod w/ G-Lock – This is the one that I travel with for landscape shoots/long exposures. It also doubles as my light stand in a pinch.

Manfrotto 131DDB Tripod Accessory Arm for Four Heads (Black) and Gitzo G065 Laptop Platform – Laptop stand/support on the road when shooting tethered.

Kirk BH-1 Ballhead with Quick Release – Supports 50 lbs (22.6kg) – the one I use in studio (Although the Kirk Ballheads are top notch, today I’d probably go with The Really Right Stuff ballheads because most of my friends use these and therefore it would be easier to use a buddy’s tripod that’s standing next to me.)

Kirk BH-3 Ballhead with Quick Release – Supports 15 lbs (6.8kg) – the one I use for travel

iStabilizer Mount for Smartphones – iPhone photography and video work

 RAM-B-121 UN9U iPad mount for my tripod.

Backgrounds

Westcott 5501 Modern Vintage Background (9 x 12′, Onyx) I have all 6 designs, but I use Onyx the most.

Westcott Masterpiece Collapsible Reversible Background – 6×7′ – Black / White

4 Westcott X-Drop Backdrops and Stand

Mist X-Drop Kit, Quarry X-Drop, Saffron X-Drop and Slate X-Drop

My custom scenic backdrops like this one below come from Vision Bedding

wpid9386-KandiceLynn10Egypt-1_sm.jpg

6 Rolls of Savage Seamless Paper  (Fashion Gray, Canary Yellow, Blue, Coral-Pink, Black & Cocoa) Savage Seamless Background Paper (107″ x 12yds, #56 Fashion Gray), Savage Seamless Background Paper (107″ x 12yds, #38 Canary), Savage Seamless Background Paper (107″ x 12yds, #31 Blue Jay), Savage Seamless Background Paper (107″ x 12yds, #3 Coral), Savage Seamless Background Paper (107″ x 12yds, #20 Super Black), Savage Seamless Background Paper (107″ x 12yds, #80 Cocoa)) – these are permanently mounted on the walls of my studio

 

 

Camera Bags

ThinkTank International Airporter – my main on location travel bag

ThinkTank Streetwalker Hard Drive Backpack – my larger backpack for air travel to hold my camera gear and computer gear as a carry-on

Kata R-103 – My smaller backpack when I don’t need to travel with as much gear.

I have a variety of smaller bags, but the 3 above are the ones I use the most.

 

Studio Music System

Music is a very important part of my shoots therefore the sound has to be good (sometimes loud) and able to be heard throughout the building. Therefore I stream the same music to via AirPlay to 4 different speaker systems located throughout the building. I’m using an older MacBook Pro for this task that either plays Pandora Radio or music from my iTunes Library)

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air – speaker in the main studio area

3 Bose Soundocks with AirPort Express Base Stations (1 in the green room, 1 in the reception area and 1 in my office). Now that the iHome iW1 has shipped I would go with 3 of those instead of the Sounddocks if I had it to do over again.

 

Misc. Gear

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 – I couldn’t imagine doing photography without it!

Adobe Photoshop CC for all my retouching and compositing needs.

Long USB Cables for Tethering – When I shoot my D4 I’m usually tethered via Ethernet, but I also use USB tethering on other bodies.

Parrot AR.Drone 2 – for aerial photography/HD Video and behind the scenes shots

HyperDrive ColorSpace – multi-media backup device for backing up memory cards while in the field on those occasions that I don’t have my laptop and my iPad doesn’t have enough room.

NIK Plugins.

3 Apple TV 2 Set-top boxes – My photography is on display throughout the studio both in print and electronically via HDTVs and Apple TVs driving them.

Apple The New iPad 64GB WiFi+4G Verizon – I use it for portfolio display, image review, model releases and variety of other tasks. See how it fits into my workflow here.

Apple 15.4″ MacBook Pro Retina Display Notebook Computer

Dell U2412M 24″ FLAT WIDESCREEN LCD MONITOR – used when I tether and it rotates to either portrait or landscape orientation.

Wacom Cintiq 24HD My main display/tablet for retouching.

Wacom Intuos5 Wireless Digital Tablet

AV Cart on Wheels - My studio tethering setup is on this cart with a long enough extension cord to reach any of my shooting areas.

AirPort Extreme Base Station – this one access point has been amazing as it provides WiFi for the entire building.

2 BlowIt Fans – great because they mount on light stands

Fog Machine – Do I need to explain this? :-)

Mac Mini Mac OS X Server with a Drobo 5D attached. There’s also a Drobo FS on the network for additional backups of the main Drobo – Network backups for every shoot I do before I leave the building

ExpoImaging 72mm ExpoDisc Digital Warm Balance Filter (Portrait)

Solmeta N3 – GPS for geotagging integrated with my Nikon DSLRs

Trampoline for those high jump shots

Zacuto Z-Finder 3 – Great for shooting DSLR video and keeping things in focus by giving you a great view finder.

X-Rite ColorChecker Passport

Sekonic Light Meter – I rarely use it, but I have one just in case. Today I’d probably buy the Gossen DIGISKY Flash and Ambient Light Meter because it can trigger the Eincrhom strobes

Iron, Ironing board,  & a steamer.

A variety of props and furniture.

 

The Bottom Line

The list above represents equipment that I’ve acquired over the past 4 years. By no means do you “need” all of it, especially if you’re just starting out. Take from it what you will and keep in mind that I didn’t start with it all on day one! That’s the thing about photography, “there’s always something to buy!” No one ever told you to get into photography because it would be a “cheap” hobby! ;-)

See more of my photography here.


  • http://www.anaadams.com Ana

    You forgot to mention the first thing you have in your studio – the one that first came to my mind when I read the title of this post – TALENT. None of those great pieces of equipment would make anything without it =).

    • http://terrywhite.com Terry White

      Thanks Ana! Very kind!

  • Mel Reyes-Abbey

    Nailed that one on that head Ana!
    Terry, you know you inspire me. I wonder what you started with before the Elinchroms, etc.?
    What would you say are ESSENTIAL to starting your studio or lighting arsenal?

    • http://terrywhite.com Terry White

      I started with an SB600 speedlight. Then I went with Westscott Spiderlites TD5’s (briefly I tried the screw in flash bulbs for the Spiderlites, but was sorely disappointed by the long refresh times) and finally Elinchrom Strobes

  • Slic

    Great info sir, as always. I follow you and Scott Kelby and I have learned a lot from you both. I have a lot of the gear you have; I just save up and get piece by piece. My goal is to have the studio space you have, I think that’s the most challenging item to put money aside for. I really feel how you customized the studio with the big W on the floor. Thank you for the continuous inspiration!

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  • http://vladdodan.ro Vlad Dodan

    You didn`t mention an assistant. Is that something that you`re still looking for?

    I`m an architect passionate about photography and gear … thinking of moving once and for all to the States around 2nd half of 2012.

    Wouldn`t mind working a few years for my all time favorite Adobe evangelist. :D

    Really nice article about your studio. It would take the average Romanian ~42 years of work without food or a roof over his head, just to get the cash for what you have acquired in 4-5 years. :) (including the studio space paid in full, of course)

  • http://www.www.marcolympics.org Marc Boucher

    always beautiful women, some men: very rare

  • http://www.carllicari.com Carl Licari

    Killer studio Terry! SI the D4 or D800 in your future?

    • http://terrywhite.com Terry White

      Thanks!, yes as mentioned in the post I’m anxiously looking forward to see what the D800 and D4 bring to the table.

  • http://forums.cgway.net/ mostafa makram

    nice I love it
    and i love your works

  • LeRoux Malan

    Hi, thanks for the tour. I find it interesting that the pro’s mostly use the same equipment. Could you tell us a bit about the big white area in your studio? How was it made and what was it made of?
    Thanks!

    • http://terrywhite.com Terry White

      Hi, it’s wood, plaster/drywall and I can’t tell you much more about it because it was here when I got here.

  • http://www.spencer-photography.com Spencer

    Wow, what a fantastic setup!

  • http://www.shiningmomentsbymiriam.com Miriam Garcia

    Thank you Terry. All of this helps. I have the Westcott Spiderlite TD6s. I want to use them. Do you ever use them with umbrellas?

    • http://terrywhite.com Terry White

      Yep, see the shot above with the big 7′ Parabolic umbrella? :-)

  • Mike Paterson

    An off topic question… I am finally planning to get around to ripping my DVD library to have available in iTunes (for use with an Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad). I was curious if you’re still using the same process that you’ve mentioned before (Handbrake and MetaX) for ripping DVD’s? If so, are you still using the “universal” setting in Handbrake or have you found one that works better?

    • http://terrywhite.com Terry White

      Yes, I’m still using the exact method I wrote about before.

      • Mike Paterson

        Thanks!!!

  • Carlo A. Mason, Esq.

    Thanks for letting us see what you use. I have decided to go with Canon for my first dSLR. I realise that that is primarily a matter of personal preference, but I have been using Canon for most of my life, and I decided to stick with it.

  • http://jeffventura.net Jeff Ventura

    I’m looking at the Nikon 1 V1 to replace my 2+ year old Canon S90. Recommended? Have you used one?

  • Luis Encuentra

    Your studio is THE DREAM, haha. I’m a fan from Spain, just planning my first studio, I’m ready to buy the Bx500Ri x2 kit plus a pair of reflectors, snoot, and basic equipment. (Focused on product and portrait), I have D7000 and some AI-s lenses (50 1.4, 105 2.5, 180 2.8) and, atm the 18-105 from the kit :S Planning for the 24-70 and 105macro on a second run next year, but now I’m like a kid planning the “studio” 1st steps.

    I have two simple questions and I will be completelly grateful with the answer:
    1st: What Picture control Settings do you recomends me for product and portraits? (Of course, shoot on Raw 14-bit, adobe RGB etc.). Atm I’m with Standard +7 sharpness, +1 Contrast, -1 Bright, +1 saturation. I know in RAW I change it after, but what do you use as BASE configuration??
    I’ve been looking for this info through the web, but unfortunatelly, did not find anything :S
    2nd: Pick the BX250Ri as 3rd light for background and support or pick “the cheapest one” for this and go for the 20×51″ Strip Softbox. I’m confused :)

    Thanks a lot for sharing.

    • http://terrywhite.com Terry White

      Hi Luis, from what I remember (I don’t have my D7000 with me on this trip) that the picture control settings don’t apply when you shoot in RAW. I certainly never made any adjustments to mine.
      I would go with the BX250Ri simply because you can control the power with the rest of your Elinchrom lights. If you don’t care about that then just about any strobe will do.

      • Luis Encuentra

        Thanks a lot for your advice. Have a nice trip !

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  • sandra raredon

    Hi Terry, was wondering if you have ever heard of a tripod made for an ipad. Since the new ipad 3 is coming out, i am thinking of using it for some studio photography. I photograph fish specimens as part of my job at the museum! Would love to tell you more about it!

  • joteri

    Hi Terry,
    What is that awesome egg looking stage thingy? Thanks for all your great videos.

  • John Havord

    Great post Terry.
    Thing I like most about you, amongst many things, is the fact that you’ll list an ar drone :)
    Keep going with the wonderful photography and wonderful entertainment you provide.

  • joteri

    Opps I see you already answered that question.

  • Paul Corsa

    Beautiful studio and a talent to fill it.

    • http://terrywhite.com Terry White

      Thanks Paul!

  • http://www.facebook.com/dougarrington Doug Arrington

    Tremendously helpful as always, Terry! How about some info on the big white “cave” (not sure what you call it) that seems to be the centerpiece of your studio area?

  • MillionaireFool

    Great list of items in your studio…great photos…aspire to be a great photographer like yourself one day…Look forward to seeing more of your work.

  • alicia

    Thanks for sharing your amazing studio with us!

  • vzio

    Some of the links to bhphotovideo don’t work

    They say
    “Sorry!!!
    Please try again soon”

  • jim young

    Terry your studio looks familiar, is it on Grand Blvd, east of Woodward. across from Ameen Howrani’s old studio?

    jim young – studio310b@mac.com

    • terryleewhite

      Nope. Troy MI

      • jim young

        Ahhh,, Tom Roches old studio??
        You have a real nice studio, its the stairs w/ the cove underneath that caught my attention.. I’ve been in your studio before, probably a party.
        Question of the day True or False
        You can convert a 16 bit file into an 8 bit and then later back into a 16 bit without losing any information.

        • terryleewhite

          Once you convert from 16bit to 8bit that information is lost for good.