Someday, I hope to have a studio. A space where I can set up a couple of soft boxes and have a few backdrops.
Nothing fancy. At first.
In the meantime, I use what I have, which is essentially nothing. After all, most of my photos are not staged: they're shot where the action occurs. The majority of my shots don't need backdrops or fancy lighting.
So far, the only time when I could really use a studio is when I shoot still photos of objects: namely, the beers that I review. When I shoot a freshly poured glass of ale and the bottle it comes in, it's nice to have a white backdrop. But I don't have a studio, so I improvise.
Take today's beer review, which was shot like almost all of the beers that I've reviewed. The bottle and glass are all that you see. The base that they rest upon and the background are bright white. But the shot isn't taken in a studio. It's shot in my kitchen.
My kitchen table is positioned at the back of my house, right by the sliding glass doors. For privacy, we have a thick, canvas-like curtain that has vertical stitching in a striped fashion. It has texture. Yet, in my photos, you can't really see the texture.
Also, you can't tell that the curtain isn't really white.
Because the floor is an off-white linoleum, I can't place the glass and bottle on it, because you'd see the pattern and you'd notice that it's not white. Plus, I need a little height to keep myself from lying on the floor.
What I have is a simple Ikea step stool that I painted white. It has a hole in the top for easy lifting and carrying. But I usually conceal that as best as I can with the bottle and glass. And, when I take the shot, I use a diffuser over my flash to reduce shadows, and I overexpose by about 1.7 stops, to wash it all out.
And if I can shoot during the day, the diffused light coming through helps.
Go to Beer O'Clock and see for yourself.