Studio vs On-Location Photography: Key Pros & Cons
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 6 min read


  1. What is studio photography?
  2. Pros of studio photography
  3. Cons of studio photography
  4. What is on-location photography?
  5. Pros of on-location photography
  6. Cons of on-location photography
  7. Studio vs on-location photography: which is right for you?

Deciding between studio and on-location photography can feel like a daunting task, especially when you're not entirely sure what each entails or how they may affect your final images. But not to worry, we've got you covered! This blog will take you through the pros and cons of studio vs on-location photography, helping you understand which option might be the best fit for you. So, let's start with understanding studio photography.

What is studio photography?

Studio photography is a type of photography that takes place in a controlled environment—typically a professional studio. The photographer has full control over the elements in this setting, from the lighting and backdrop to the temperature and sound.

Think of studio photography as a blank canvas. The photographer can manipulate every minute detail, giving them the ability to create the exact look and feel they desire. This is especially handy when shooting product images, headshots, or fashion photography where precision is key.

Now, you might be thinking: "That sounds nice, but what's the catch?" Well, like anything else, studio photography has its ups and downs. We'll be exploring the pros and cons of studio vs on-location photography in the upcoming sections. So, stay tuned for a detailed comparison that will hopefully make your decision a little easier!

Pros of studio photography

Studio photography comes with a host of benefits. Let's dive into the key pros:

  • Control: In a studio, you have complete control over all elements of the shoot. This includes lighting, background, props, and even the temperature. This level of control allows for consistency and precision.
  • Equipment: Studios are typically equipped with top-notch lighting equipment, backdrops and props. This saves you from having to purchase or rent gear yourself.
  • Convenience: With a studio, you can shoot at any time, regardless of the weather or time of day. Plus, you often have amenities like restrooms, changing rooms and a waiting area for clients.
  • Privacy: A studio provides a private, distraction-free environment. This can be particularly beneficial for shoots that require concentration or a sense of intimacy.

So, there you have it—the main pros of studio photography. But, like most things in life, it's not all sunshine and rainbows. Let's tackle the other side of the coin: the cons of studio photography.

Cons of studio photography

As much as studio photography is a boon in many ways, it does have its drawbacks. Let's break down some of the cons:

  • Cost: Renting or maintaining a studio can be expensive. This includes not only the space itself but also the cost of lighting, backdrops, props, and other equipment.
  • Lack of Natural Elements: While being in a studio gives you control, it can also limit spontaneity and authenticity. You miss out on natural light, weather, and unique outdoor settings.
  • Transport: Depending on the location, getting to a studio can be inconvenient for some clients. This can also limit your client base to those who are within a reasonable distance.
  • Space Limitations: Some studios can be quite small, restricting the types of shoots you can do. For instance, shooting large groups or extensive sets might be challenging.

Now that we've weighed the pros and cons of studio photography, it's time to turn our lens to on-location photography. What does it bring to the table? Let's find out.

What is on-location photography?

On-location photography, as the name implies, is all about taking pictures outside the four walls of a studio. This can be anywhere: a park, a bustling city street, a quiet beach, or even your client's home. It's all about capturing the essence of a place and making it a part of your photo's story.

Remember that family photo you took at your favorite beach during summer? Or that time you posed in front of that iconic city landmark? Both are examples of on-location photography. It's about infusing your photos with a sense of place and time. It's about merging the subject with their surroundings. It's about telling a story that's as unique as the location itself.

But just like studio photography, on-location photography has its own set of pros and cons. And that's what we'll dive into next.

Pros of on-location photography

So, what's the big deal with on-location photography? Well, it's got a lot to offer. Let's take a look at its pros:

  • Unique and Personal: Every location has its own unique charm and character. Whether it's the rustic charm of an old barn or the vibrant energy of a bustling city street, on-location photography can capture these unique aspects and make your photos truly one-of-a-kind.
  • Natural Light: In on-location photography, you get to work with natural light. This can give your photos a soft, warm, and realistic feel that can be hard to recreate in a studio.
  • Wide Variety of Backdrops: With on-location photography, you're not limited to the backdrops that a studio provides. The world is your oyster. From lush green parks to urban cityscapes, you can choose the perfect backdrop that aligns with your vision.
  • Realistic Imagery: On-location photos often look more realistic and authentic as they capture people in their natural environment.

These are some of the key benefits of on-location photography. But it's not all sunshine and roses. Every rose has its thorns, and on-location photography is no exception. Let's take a look at the cons.

Cons of on-location photography

Now that we've looked at the bright side of on-location photography, let's shed some light on the not-so-rosy aspects. Here are some potential downsides:

  • Unpredictable Weather: One of the biggest challenges of on-location photography is dealing with Mother Nature. Weather can be unpredictable. A sunny day can quickly turn into a downpour, making it difficult to get the shots you want.
  • Lighting Challenges: While natural light can be beautiful, it can also be a pain to work with. The sun doesn't always cooperate with your shooting schedule, and the golden hour — that magical time when the light is just right — is notoriously short.
  • Limited Control: On-location, you have less control over your surroundings. Unexpected background noises, curious onlookers, or an uncooperative environment can all pose challenges.
  • Logistics and Travel: On-location shoots often involve travel, which means extra time, effort, and cost. Plus, you'll have to lug all your equipment to the location.

So there you have it. On-location photography has its pros and cons. It can bring a unique, realistic edge to your photos, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. Keep these points in mind when deciding between studio and on-location photography.

Studio vs on-location photography: which is right for you?

So, you've explored the pros and cons of studio vs on-location photography. But how do you decide which one is right for you? That decision largely depends on the kind of photos you want to take, your style as a photographer, and the resources you have at hand.

If you're someone who loves control over every detail — from lighting to background — and you don't mind investing in a well-equipped studio, then studio photography could be your cup of tea. It's also a great choice if you're mostly into portrait photography or product shots, where you need to highlight specific features without any distractions.

On the other hand, if you're someone who thrives on spontaneity and loves capturing the world as it is, on-location photography might be your calling. It's perfect if you love landscape, wildlife, or event photography—where the environment plays a significant role in your shots.

Remember, both studio and on-location photography have their unique strengths. You don't have to pick one and stick with it forever. The best photographers know how to use both to their advantage. So, why not give both a try and see which one resonates with you?

In the end, whether you choose studio or on-location depends on you—your style, your preferences, and your objectives. So, consider the pros and cons of studio vs on-location photography, and make the choice that best aligns with your vision as a photographer.

If you're interested in learning more about the different styles of photography and how they relate to studio or on-location settings, check out the workshop called 'Editorial vs Street Style Photography' by Romina Introini. This workshop will provide you with valuable insights into the key differences between these two photography styles and help you make the most of your chosen shooting environment.