I don't have a studio. In fact, truth be known, I've never actually been in a studio except for a couple of fleeting visits to friends' work places.
Yet there are times in travel photography when you need the controlled conditions of a studio. This image of Japanese New Year's food -called Osechi - is the perfect example.
I needed to show the beautiful cuisine laid out in the boxes but just photographing it on the street wasn't an option.
So I used a home studio - literally a home! My in-laws' place. This was the food for that night's dinner. Because I don't carry studio flashes with me I needed to find a nice soft light. Taking a leaf out of the painter's handbook I used a lovely north facing window to camera right. This provides lovely side lighting which highlights the texture on the lobster. The shadows are a little dark on the other side of the boxes and I could have used a reflector to lighten them up a bit but decided to leave it as it was.
The boxes are sitting on a wooden table which I felt was a bit plain for the glamorous display so I got a nice piece of coloured cloth (which the boxes came wrapped in) and put it underneath. Then I set the camera up on a tripod with a 28-70mm zoom and organised the boxes until I liked the composition.
If you don't have a north facing window and you only have direct sunlight streaming through a window then you can always put a big white sheet over the window, which will soften the light and make it less directional. If you don't have a reflector then a piece of crumpled up foil or a sheet of white paper will often do the trick.
Many of us don't have any desire to work in the studio but a little thought can mean that those times where you want to photograph something in a studio-like environment you can jury rig something in your hotel room. It's also a great technique to use when you want to advertise something on eBay! And if you want to get really technical head here to see how Strobist does it.