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If you specialize in portrait or product photography, the fantasy of shooting in your very own space has probably crossed your mind more than once. Shooting with studio light gives you the ability to control and shape the quality of the light.  However, the pressure is on to succeed and fear of failure holds many photographers back from taking the leap. Taking the jump to having your own fully stocked studio starts with one important decision:  to rent or to own your space.

Benefits of Renting

Renting a studio will relieve you of the financial commitment of owning. You can rent studio space for just a few hours or by the day. A quick Internet search should turn up plenty of options. There are several factors you should make yourself aware of before booking the space.

Studio Size

Make sure the space is ample enough to accomplish your shoot. Double check that no spaces are off limits. Check the lighting at various times of day as well.


Pricing can vary from space-to-space. Clarify all costs before you sign an agreement. Also, watch out for hidden costs that some studios have in the fine print such as overtime charges, clean up, utilities, parking and disposable items such as backdrop paper. Overtime is the biggy here since the industry norm is to charge a premium for going over the scheduled time period. 


Be sure to check that the studio offers equipment to rent. Some studio owners do not like to have their equipment used by the masses and you may end having to purchase equipment and the hassle of lugging it back and forth. Some studios will include it in the price but others may add on additional fees for each piece of equipment used. This can really add up.

See more: Should You Set Up Your Own Studio?


Certain studios even offer an assistant for hire. If you are not familiar with the studio’s equipment this can be a great way to go so you avoid fumbling around the day or shoot. It will also help reduce equipment damage. On the other hand, you may not want to work with an unfamiliar person so in this case bring your own assistant if need be.

Benefits of Owning

If you’re in a financial position to purchase a space as your very own, you have the advantage of recouping the dollars on your investment by renting your space out to fellow photographers for their own shoots or even as an event space. Holding your own gallery nights is also a great way to network with fellow artists and draw attention to your studio.

Choosing a Space

Choose an easily accessible space that offers good foot traffic and free, off-street parking. Look for plenty of storage space as well so you can have the luxury of acquiring an arsenal of props and equipment to have at the ready.

It may be tempting to choose a space with loads of character such as an older building. However, with all that quirkiness can come high heating bills. Make sure you have a suitable environment with good natural light and security. After all, you want a place where you are happy to spend a lot of time in.

Be Ready to Take Risks

Mostly likely you’ll need to hire at least one or more staff members to man the space if you are away on a shoot or don’t want to have to work every weekend. Nothing is more discouraging to customers to show up at your studio and always see a closed sign hanging in the window.

Go Easy on Furnishing

It may be tempting to run out and purchase all new furniture and décor. Watch your upfront spending and search Craigslist for used office equipment to stay on budget. We’d all love an Eames chair but it’s really not necessary!

Renting is of course the better way to get started since the investment risk is low. Owning you own space can enable you to increase your service offerings and your income. The choice is yours depending on your budget and the vision for your career.

Cheryl Woods

Cheryl Woods is an accomplished photographer, designer and branding consultant with a career spanning 20+ years. Her photographic work includes editorial, fashion, portraiture and product photography for major companies in the consumer products field including QVC and Hanover Direct. She received a B.F.A. in Photography from the University of the Arts and an M.F.A. in Media Design from Full Sail University. Cheryl's work has been exhibited at the Lowes Museum of Art in Coral Gables, FL, The New York Independent Film Festival and the Rosenwald Wolf Gallery in Philadelphia, PA. Check out her website here!


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