What’s In My Studio?

Updated: February 15, 2021

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 had a 4,800 sq foot studio space and yes I LOVED 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 D850 DSLR Digital Camera (Body Only) –  – My primary studio camera

Nikon Z6 II Mirrorless Camera w/ 24-70mm f/4 – My travel Camera and backup body

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.

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

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

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

Point & Shoot Cameras

I simply don’t use Point & Shoot cameras anymore. If I don’t bring my DSLR or Mirrorless, then I’m shooting with my iPhone.

iPhone 12 Pro Max – Yep, I use this one almost as much as my DSLRs because it’s always with me. I even created an “iPhone Photography Portfolio” here.

Spiked

Lenses

Mirrorless Z Mount Lenses

Nikon 24-70 f/4 S

Nikon 85mm f/1.8 S Lens

Nikon 14-30 mm f/4

Nikon 24-200mm f/4-6.3

DSLR F Mount 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

Nikon 105mm f/2.8 Macro Lens – I use this for those rare occasions when I shoot close-ups on products, hands/nails, and jewelry.

Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Lens – Great for when I need more reach.

Lighting & Light Modifiers

I used to use Elinchrom strobes for the first 10+ years of my photography journey. However, in February 2021 I made the switch to Westcott’s new lighting system.

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3 Westcott FJ400 Strobes – these are awesome because I can use them in the studio AND on-location because of the built-in battery packs.

1 Westcott FJ-X2m Universal Wireless Trigger System – this trigger works with both the strobes and speedlights. It’s a game-changer.

1 Westcott Rapid Box Switch Octa-M Softbox

2 Westcott Rapid Box Switch 1×3 Stripbank Softboxes

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

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.

2 Westcott Solix continuous lighting

1 Westcott Flex light – 10″x10″ panel

1 Westcott Flex light – 1’x3′ panel

Westcott Ice Light – used for portraits and creative lighting.

1 Westcott Eyelighter – My NEW favorite reflector for 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 Westcott FJ80 Speedlight – This is my new speedlight that works with the same system as my new strobes.

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

1 Westcott Rapid Box 26″ Octa 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 and Mounts

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.

Arkon Clamp Stand for DSLR Camera, Tablet, or Phone this arm is simply amazing because it’s strong enough to hold my DSLRs/Mirrorless cameras so that I can get those shots straight down on top of my subject.

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

Really Right Stuff BH40 Ball Head with Full Size Lever Release Clamp, I really like this one and will probably buy from this maker going forward.

Platypod Max tripod alternative

Platypod Ultra Essentials Kit with Oben BA-111 Ball Head and Square Jellyfish Jelly Grip Tripod Mount for Smartphones

Arkon 11″ Tripod Phone Mount – iPhone photography and video work

Pocket Tripod Pro – This thing is amazing and folds down to the size of a credit card. Therefore I always have it with me in my wallet.

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

X-Drop High-Key White

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

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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 via my Bose Soundtouch 20.

Misc. Gear

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

Adobe Photoshop for all my retouching and compositing needs.

Long USB Cables for Tethering – A good stable connection from the camera to the computer makes all the difference in the world.

Vello Wireless ShutterBoss III Remote Switch with Digital Timer for Select Nikon Cameras – this wireless remote is great for shooting products or in situations where touching the camera would cause unwanted vibration.

DJI Mavic Air – for aerial photography/4K Video and behind the scenes shots

DJI CoPilot BOSS for in-field backups and mobile editing workflows.

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 Pro – I use it for portfolio display, image review, model releases and variety of other tasks. See how it fits into my workflow here.

Apple 2019 16″ 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 27QHD My main display/tablet for retouching.

Wacom Intuos Pro Small 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.

2 BlowIt Fans – great because they mount on light stands

Fog Machine – Do I need to explain this? πŸ™‚

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

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! πŸ˜‰

See more of my photography here.

44 Replies to “What’s In My Studio?”

  1. 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 =).

  2. 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?

    1. 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

  3. 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!

  4. 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. πŸ˜€

    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. πŸ™‚ (including the studio space paid in full, of course)

  5. 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!

  6. 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?

  7. 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.

  8. 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 πŸ™‚

    Thanks a lot for sharing.

    1. 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.

  9. 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!

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

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

  12. 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?

  13. 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.

      1. 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.

  14. Hi Terry, I was just wondering what was the application that you use to do the video tutorials…. I like the way you have the camera on you, and the screen share.
    Cheers

    Kingsley

  15. terry what computer and computer monitor you use to edit pictures in lightroom also you were using a pen, i assume is a touch screen monitor??

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