Setting Up the Mobile Studio and Set

Published on July 12, 2017

Survey the Room and Create a Plan

When preparing to build the set onsite, the first and most important thing to do is to check the electrical outlets to see where they are located and if they are working.  This knowledge will help you develop the best strategy for placement and lighting of the set.  You will want to think about the position of the main light and whether or not you will have room for the fill and separation lights.  Consider how you will route extension cords to each of the lights that you are using. Consider how the children will enter the room.  Once you have a plan in place, it is time to unpack and assemble the set and lights in one of the configurations shown in the studio lighting chapter.

Light Stands and Lights

Assemble one stand for each light on the set. Spread the legs on the bottom of the stand as wide as you can for maximum steadiness.

IMPORTANT:  Power cords must be taped down to the floor to prevent children (and photographers) from tripping.

Main Light

The large 30×60 inch softbox is used to modify the main light.  Assemble the Softbox first and lay it down with the white surface of the light on the floor and the speed ring (round metal piece that attaches to the light) facing up.  Insert one of the Alien Bees Lights directly onto the speed ring.  Attach the strobe radio receiver to this (Main) light.

Fill Light

We attach the umbrella shaped reflector to a second Alien Bee light to create a fill light.  Use the white baffle fabric to soften the fill light.  Attach the metal silver reflector to an Alien Bee Light, making sure to align the cutout hole in the metal reflector ring where it attaches to the light.  Then open the umbrella and insert the umbrella reflector shaft into the Alien Bee light and tighten the set screw.  This setup is opposite the other 2 light setups.  When properly assembled, the base of this Alien Bee light will point at the subject and the light will flash up onto the silver underside of the umbrella and bounce back to the subject.  The farther away the umbrella is from the light the wider the spread of light.

Separation Light (Hair Light, or Rim Light)

Attach the third Alien Bee light to the 10×30 rectangular strip box to create a separation (hair) light.

IMPORTANT: Since there are many small pieces that can be easily lost, it is important to keep things organized and put bags away as you unpack the lights.

Command Post

It is very important that you establish a command post area where the camera batteries are charged and where extra memory cards are kept.  It is crucial to have a systematic way to keep up with blank memory cards versus memory cards that contain valuable pictures that you have already taken.  One way to do this is to have a sleeve with individual pockets for each memory card.  Label each memory card a unique identifier.  Cards that you place face up in the pocket showing number are ready to use for your shoot.  When a memory card is full, turn it backwards with the black (logo) side up and place it into a pocket.

IMPORTANT:  All memory cards should be uniquely labeled, unique letter or number for each card. I use the naming convention MMYY#, that way you can also know how old your cards are.  Note on your barcode sticker sheet the card number that the images are being photographed on.

Make sure to:

  • Arrange any set accessories (pillows, books, toys, etc.) for easy access
  • Place stickers, information sheets and blank notebook/paper for sticker placement all together in preparation for check-in and sessions