Photographic studio interior

We photographer’s love our gadgets and kit, I thought I would provide a list of the 10 best photographic studio accessories, the items I use, not the eye watering but excellent profoto B1 or the new Mac Book Pro but the every day, the most useful, in fact, the all most indispensable Tools I have found of use in any Photographic studio.

As a commercial photographer of over 30 years experience with a  few studios over that time from Industrial unit’s over 3000 sq ft. to my present in Birmingham’s creative HQ the Custard factory I feel I am qualified to offer advice to the best accessories I can’t live without, the things that I use almost every day they’re not expensive or the obvious list of soft boxes and tripod but a list for the working general practice photographer

My Studio Accessories list part 1, see what you think?

1.Hot Shoe Spirit Level

Hot shoe spirit level for cameras

This £5.00 bit of kit makes getting the camera straight easy, even hand held, you can instantly see vertical and horizontal axis, it can be changed it to two positions for easy viewing.I find it most useful in situations where you need to stop the camera tilting forward or backward or when you need a copy set up which we all know can be very frustrating to get everything straight, I have  6 one in every bag and a couple



2.Masking Tape

a roll of masking and gaffer tape one of the 10 best studio accessories

I can’t possibly mention how many times and different uses I have put masking tape too, from making a model mark on the floor, holding things together, you’re sticking things down, but the beauty is you’re careful it is none destructive, you don’t want to take the  paint off when you peel it off. This is one of those items where you don’t need the good stuff because you don’t want it to be to sticky, so cheap is good, buy in bulk to get a very reasonable price, it’s gone up a bit but much better than buying from the hardware store. As you have noticed there is also a roll of gaffer tape in the shot it was a close decision which one, but the masking won, as gaffer is invaluable when you need an unbreakable fix but if you have spent many an hour removing the adhesive from stands and lights it does have it’s downside


3.Lastolite Ezybalance Grey card

lastolite collapisble grey card for white balancing

Fantastic bit of kit, folds up and fits into any camera bag this has helped my work flow no end. I have used it on all subject from portraits, product, Industrial and outside and has made the post production white balance selection a much easier process.

Previously I used the qpcard and the Gretagmacbeth 

which are fine but the grey sample area in some instances was just to small, with this you can place it in the image or get your subject to hold it, although not perfect it does make a very good job in 90% of Circumstances.



4.LaCie’s Rugged Hard Drive

Lacies Rugged external hard drive

A reliable Hard drive has become critical to the photographer’s workflow and storage, with files getting bigger and bigger and with the average day’s shot amassing upwards of 16Gb your computer soon get full.I have bought cheaper versions but always regretted it as there is always a slight recognition problem, but with these which I have had 7, there has never been the slightest trouble completely reliable.This one is the 2TB with Mac’s lighting bolt lead built in also with normal USB portal’s. Where I find most use for mine is backing up on location in Hotel room’s (just in case) then moving files from laptop to desk top, but I now pass on to clients for them to down load for added security for their archive.



5.VisibleDust Vswabs  

image of Visible Dust Swabs for sensor DLSR cleaning

Over the years my camera’s have gone away for an annual clean or I have taken Calumet up on their free cleaning days. The sensor cleaning has never been top of my to do list, it’s bad enough on the Hasselblad where you can remove the back but to get into a DLSR is almost impossible. When they launched these fantastic products the job became almost pleasurable, the stress of blowing, wiping and trying to get a cloth in that delicate space was taken away one drop of the fluid a gentle wipe with the new swab and the sensor is clean. I have done tethered test’s, in the summer of last year I was out on location most of the time and some of the images looked like they had an infestation of flea’s there was that many spots on the sensor I had to really get it back to 99% clean and these did the job.

6.Manfrotto Double Super Clamp

image of a Manfrotto Double clamp one of the 10 best photographic studio accessories

These truly excellent studio accessories, on the website it says “Super strong, extra lightweight and totally versatile. The Double Super Clamp is an essential piece of kit for any professional. More than just an average clamp, this clever product does everything you need it to and more, plus it’s crafted to Italy’s world-class quality standards, so you know it’s built to last” as the Brochure say’s in this case totally true.

I’ve had some of mine for 30 years and they are still going strong, there are cheaper copies on the market which are nearly as good but not quiet.The Manfrotto ones are strong and built last I can’t imagine what I would of done without them.



7.Perspex Sheet

Perspex acrylic sheet in frame for light control

The versatility of this stuff is endless, push light through it, bounce light off it even use it as a background. I have a good selection of sizes from single cut pieces about 3ft. by 2ft. to a massive mounted 10ft. by 5 ft. on wheels.It comes into it’s own when photographing chrome, glass, mirrors etc and by moving the light in and out you can control the hardness and spill, and by flagging of with strips of black card you can turn it into a hard strip light.For ease and longevity, I have mounted some on to wooden batons and secured with washers which help prevent it cracking the sheet as you tighten the screws. The only thing you have to careful about is ordering the correct density I have found perspex 050, or an acrylic opal sheet with 30% all at 3mm does the job. A lot of companies will let you order a 10ft-5ft sheet and for a minimal cost cut it into your desired sizes I have found Amari Plastic excellent.


8.Manfrotto Spring Clamp


image of Manfrotto Spring Clamp for holding reflectors

“Manfrotto 175 Spring Clamp. Clamps onto bars up to 40mm. Spring Clamps will hold on to sheet metal, wood panels, pipes/tubes/risers and hold lightweight accessories or camera flashes.” To be honest, I could of put 10 best items just from Manfrotto, magic adjustable arm, wall mounted stand rack etc etc, as most of there stuff is outstanding. I have had mine for years and still pretty good, the tension goes eventually so there not as tight but they are great for flagging of and adding a bounce reflector, they can be mounted in different ways so have a multitude of uses.


9.Foam Board


image of foam board cheap photographic reflector

For £5-£6 pound what other photographic accessory offer’s that much value, a light weight reflector easily positioned, a versatility of use from a great background for shooting on, clean reflector, packing up products and temporary supports. I always keep a couple in the boots of my car for emergencies. Although you can get them mail order and from hobby craft outlets I get mine from my local Picture Frame wholesalers Lion Picture Framing and general get a few other different sheets for backgrounds while I am there.




10.Blue Tack


Blue tack piece and packaging one of the 10 best photographic studio accessories

Bostick’s I quote “Bostik Blu Tack is a permanently plastic, reusable adhesive. Bostik Blu Tack is supplied in the form of rectangular slabs between sheets of release paper and packed in individual wallets. Bostik Blu Tack is clean and economical in use. Holds up posters, cards, children’s paintings, party decorations, maps, messages, etc. Telephones and calculators to desks, ornaments to shelves, photos in albums, screws to screwdrivers, model parts during painting, etc”.Accidentally invented as a by product for a sealant manufacturer in 1970 originally white but there were fears children might mistake it for gum and was coloured Blue. I would just like to say What would I have done without it for 30 years ?


This was like compiling your best songs and could of included a lot more, watch this space for the 10 best photographic studio Accessories mark 2,3? but I think they might cost a bit more.