Did you know studios can be outdoors too? We’ve all seen amazing behind the scenes glimpses of indoor studios, but until recently it hadn’t occurred me to do the same outdoors. Duh! Right?

Let me back track a few months to that time last fall when I visited Kristina in Sweden. Part of our adventuring was to visit all the places that she takes her amazing photos. If you were to visit me, this would take days since I’m prone to driving 60 minutes and hiking another hour to get to a perfect spot near my favorite mountain steam. Kristina showed me that this isn’t necessary.

As it turns out all of Kristina’s favorite photography spots are a few minutes walk from her home. It’s not that Kristina lives in a particularly beautiful place, she simply showed me that you can do a lot with very little. Of course, awesome light helps. Brett has a similar situation which he has alluded to; he has a little garden he created with his wife just for toy photography.

When I returned home I started looking around for something that I could use to create an outdoor photography studio on my kitchen porch. I chose this location since it’s has good morning light. The rest of my yard is too shady for what I had in mind. I appropriated a circular steel pan from my sons workshop and filled it with water. I’ve been playing around with this set up for a few months and I’ve been pleased with the results.

Its not much to look at, but Ive created some magic in this little pond!

You can see the light source adds a little color to the skeleton heads.

Winter Fun in the Over World!

Of course there are limitations to my outdoor studio.

  • the water has an edge which I have to work around
  • the story needs to be stronger since I can’t rely on the background to carry the image
  • I’m photographing into the sun so I often need an additional light source
  • I’m limited to the 30-40 minutes of photography before the sun is blocked by trees

The benefits out weigh these limitations. Since I pass by my little studio everyday, I’m always thinking about the next photo. I can also take advantage of the light even if it’s for only a few minutes.

Returning home.

When the winter temperatures dropped and my pan of water froze, a whole new world of possibilities opened up. I never would have thought to create my own private ice rink, but I have one. The frozen surface has opened up a whole new set of possibilities including imbedding items into it.

Of course, your outdoor studio doesn’t have to be a pan of water.  It could just as easily be a cookie sheet decorated with moss, gravel, sand, sticks or rocks. Whatever your creativity dictates. You can even add small mini figure scaled plants .

I’ve seen plenty of photographers set up elaborate indoor studios to simulate a variety of outdoor situation. No matter how cool the results, I can’t image myself doing this. For me there is a magic to the sun that I want to capture. My hope is that by creating a small outdoor studio I can have the best of both worlds. I can capture the beauty of the ever changing sun while still experiencing the convenience of a photo studio right outside my door.

Thank you Kristina for showing me there are simpler (and better) ways to get the photo. 🙂


Do you have a studio, either indoors or out, that you use to simulate a natural environment? If so, what does it look like? 

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