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The first thing that can be said of a studio is that it is important to keep it filled up. With clients, that is. It’s important, especially if you’re renting a space, to make sure it pays for itself.

The second thing that can be said of a studio is that you will fill it with equipment. Photography is just one of those occupations that require a fair amount of tools to do the job right, and if you’re in a small market, or even if you’re just starting out, it means that you are a generalist and can photograph anything, as long as someone is willing to pay you for it.

So How Do You Know When It’s Time for Your Own Studio?

This will be the best problem you could have in the business of photography. If you’re thinking about creating a studio for yourself it means several things:

  • You’re making a good amount of cash flow
  • Clients are coming through the door looking for you
  • You need a more permanent space to work in
  • You are looking to expand your business
  • You want to be taken seriously as a photographer

Each of these points speaks clearly to the fact that you’ve established yourself as a photographer in your own mind. People know you as a photographer, and you may already be the go-to-gal for children photography, or still life, or any number of categories within the field. 

See more: Branding Your Studio Effectively

female photographer sitting at computer

It could also mean that you are preparing for a life as a working photographer and you want to establish yourself with a recognizable presence in your area and you simply want to have a nice place for your clients to come visit.

Come On In!

Whatever stage you may be at in your working life as a photographer, having a studio with a place for your clients to sit down and look at your work, with books on a coffee table or large prints on the wall or both, is a wonderful thing, a place to create your vision; a space that makes your clients feel comfortable the minute they walk in the door. This is important. People want to be associated with a place that they feel fits who they are. A place where they feel they belong. You are the one creating that feeling for them. You are the magician as well as the photographer, and as you grow in your career you will wear many different hats in this new space of yours: plumber, electrician, interior decorator, cook, dishwasher; you’ll always be the first one in and the last one out.

Once you’ve decided to take the steps toward that first studio, there is the initial investment to consider.

Ask Yourself:

  • Will you be renovating a garage? 
  • Renting a space downtown? 

Whichever way you choose to go there is going to be a considerable investment in making the space your own, and you need to not only ask yourself what your vision is, but consider your client’s comfort as well. You’ll need a bathroom and a makeup area to start. Then ask yourself:

  • Is there going some place where you can sit and talk to your clients?
  • A reception area separate from your shooting area?
  • Will you need an office that is private?
  • Where will your dressing room be?
  • Where will the bathroom and makeup area be located –separately or together?
  • Will you be shooting with tungsten, flash or fluorescent lighting?
  • Will there be a kitchen (a good idea if you’re going to shoot food)

male photographer sitting on ground of studio

There are many more considerations that will require a great deal of planning and forethought before you spend any money. Ask yourself what kind of a photographer you want to be, not the kind of photographer you are! For instance, if you have been shooting weddings, is that what you want to be doing five or ten years from now? Or do you have a desire to be a fashion photographer? Or is photographing products/still life what you love? Each of those disciplines has different requirements. And you must, of all things, be true to your vision as an artist. Continuing to shoot still life when you dream of photographing children is going to have an adverse affect on your work and your life.

Once you have those thoughts clarified, start drawing. That right, draw. Start making sketches of the layout of your new home. Make it the biggest and most imaginative space you can dream of. Think of all the things that you’d like to do and be. Put them all down on paper. Putting your dreams down on paper will bring them that much closer to reality. Keep planning until the day arrives when your dreams start to unfold. Step confidently into your dream and one day you will be standing right in the middle of the reality of that dream. Your own studio.

James Schuck

James Schuck is a writer and photographer working in Southern California. He is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts in New York City and has photographed everything from Architecture to Auto Parts to Cookies to Portraits and Weddings.

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