I've gotten a lot of questions about my mobile studio setup so today I went ahead and set it up my living room since my baby girl was NOT interested in taking an afternoon nap. Let me preface this with "I am not a studio lighting specialist" but this is as much as I know how to do.
So I usually start out putting up my background support system. I have the Impact Portable Support System. It is two stands, a cross bar made up of four bars so you can use two or more depending on the width you need, and a carry bag that it all fits into. For the setup shown in my living room below I just used two of the bars connected which I think makes about an 8 foot length. I have three backdrops: Black, Blue, and a textured blue. All are 10'x20'. I use the black one the most. I've used it a bunch for newborn sessions which are typically black and white with the black background. I've never used the bright blue (my husband wanted it to blue screen stuff). I have only used the textured blue one a few times.
Recently I added three 53" rolls of Savage Paper. The one shown is Rustic. I heard a rumor that they plan on coming out with another size that will be between the 53" roll and the 107" roll which is great because the 53" roll is okay for one kid but not much more than that. This was actually my very first time trying out the paper and I still need to fine tune my technique but it was cool to try it out.
For my lights I have the Digi Bee package from Alien Bees. Alien Bees are a good beginner lighting system because they are not super expensive and they are pretty easy to get started with. I choose not to upgrade to the B800 because I didn't think I needed the extra output since I typically shoot individuals but if you plan on doing families and larger groups you might want to opt for the higher output lights. The package included two lights, two light stands, two carry bags, a silver/white umbrella, a shoot thru umbrella, and the transmitter/receiver combination for firing off the lights.
Here's a rough diagram of my setup:
I have one light set to light the backdrop. The amount of light you have hitting the paper will alter the look of the paper. I took a few test shoots and adjusted as necessary to get the look I wanted. I probably should have pulled out more of the paper so the subject would not be as close to the background/backlight because it did create a shadow. I used the shoot thru umbrella with the second light to light my subject but with a softer light thanks to the umbrella. I used my Sekonic light meter to measure the light so I could get the amount of light I wanted. Normally you'd want your subject to be about 6 feet from the background but I didn't have quite that much room.
Here's the setup in my living room...Abby helped me out! She just started walking so she was all over the place.
And here is a picture from this setup. BTW, the yellow duck is from Michael's and it is a hand puppet that quacks. Abby thinks it is so funny so it is great to use when I need to get a quick smile from her. I also did a quick black and white conversion so you could see how the paper looks in black and white.