Any studio layout is something of a compromise between what would be best for a particular style of photography and the physical constraints of the space available. It may even be a three way compromise, being additionally between the ideal choice of fixtures, fittings and equipment, and what is affordable. Careful planning is important, and the earlier it is applied, the better.
Knowing that some compromise will be likely, it makes sense to approach the design from opposite directions, listing on the one hand the requirements, and on the other the possibilities for conversion offered by the space. Ideally, a studio should meet just the needs of the type of work that the photographer expects to be doing, and this calls for some anticipation. During the life of the studio, a photographer many change approaches and methods, not only adding new equipment that might call for new space, but also developing new interests. While unused space is something of a luxury, it is also a waste of effort and money to design a studio to specifications that are too limited. The basic provisions are:
Sufficient Working Space
This depends on the size of the subject, the space needed behind the subject for the background, working space in front of the camera, and space outside the picture area for lighting and other equipment that must stay out of shot.
If artificial lighting is to be used for shooting, all other light must be excluded. This can be done permanently by boarding up windows or painting them over, or else by fitting light-tight shutters or special darkroom blinds that run in grooves.
The choice of lighting is enormous. A daylight studio clearly needs a fairly specific design. If the lighting is to be artificial, various power packs and lamp heads will have to be mounted somewhere – on the studio floor, walls or ceiling. Overhead lighting often calls for more ceiling height that many rooms have. Controlling the lighting means, in particular, being able to exclude extraneous light, colors and reflections.
Light-sealing the room makes it possible to construct a lighting pattern from scratch, although it will make insulation necessary. Avoid color in the walls and ceiling: the standard alternatives are black, white, or a neutral gray.
The electrical circuitry is crucial, and must be capable of taking the load of all the lighting and other appliances at the same time. There should also be enough outlets, properly fused.
Heavy Duty Flooring
The floor should be smooth, strong, and stable. Have a careful structural inspection made, and consider re-surfacing. Unit flooring such as rubber compound tiles or parquet tiles are probably the best choice.
Existing doors may be too small or open insufficiently to move equipment and props in or out. Especially large or bulky subjects, such as vehicles, need special access.
There should be sufficient room away from the working space for camera, lighting, background, props and tools.
Ventilation, air-condition, heating
Particularly if the studio is light-sealed, the working conditions must be comfortable – in both summer and winter.