For the first 6 years of my baby photography business, I worked out of my living room. I lived in a small 2 bedroom semi in Sydney’s Inner West. I had 2 very young children. I was only working 1 to 2 days per week. The idea of having my own separate photography studio space seemed a lifetime away. Back in mid-2018 my dream became a reality! I moved into my beautiful studio space in Balmain. I love it! It’s a gorgeous Victorian shopfront with large bay windows and lots of space for my clients to sit and relax, and for me to store all of my photography props and equipment. No more spending hours the night before a session setting up and packing away! But is it all good news? Unfortunately no…
Here is a list of the Top 4 Myths About Having A Photography Studio.
Myth # 1: You’ll get so many more customers
If you’re considering taking the leap to a commercial studio space and this is your reasoning – I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but you really can’t rely on a large or consistent increase in the number of clients you will have. Sure, I have had more clients say they heard about me by walking past my studio. But in the grand scheme of things, the small number of these clients doesn’t cover the high cost of renting a professional studio space. In my area (Balmain a suburb in the inner west of Sydney, Australia about 3km from the CBD) commercial rents are notoriously high. We have had many of our local shops and boutique stores close down over the last few years simply due to the high cost of rent in the local area. Businesses that rely on foot-traffic are really struggling to make enough to justify the cost of their rent. So, before you take the plunge and sign up for the commitment of a commercial studio space, please do your numbers on your current earnings and have a clear understanding of how this will impact on you financially. If you’re able to use a space in your home or garage this would be much better. If you must lease a commercial space, try finding someone to share the rent with.
Myth #2: You need a studio to be a professional photographer
Some of the best baby photographers I know don’t work out of a commercial studio space. In fact, I’d say that the vast majority work out of home with a spare room or garage converted into a studio space. Don’t feel like you’re not a “proper” photographer if you don’t have a studio. I worked out of my small living room for the first 6 years of my business. The hardest part about this was that I would have to pack all of my props and equipment away after each session, and set it all up again the night before a client was coming. In my home there was no other alternative space for me to use so this was the best that I could do. It had its’ positives though! I had everything at my fingertips for my clients – including my laundry and washing machine so I could put all my fabrics straight into the wash (I now have to lug them home which is a bit annoying). If you’re a good photographer, you can make pretty much any sort of space work for your clients. I’ll guarantee that you won’t be able to tell the difference in my photos. If you have the room to have your studio at home, it can make a lot more sense financially. I definitely would have kept doing this had we had more room in our home.
Myth #3: You need a large studio space
Having a larger studio space is really handy. Now, I have plenty of room for all of my props and equipment as well as a beautiful area with a lounge and changing table for my clients to relax. But this wasn’t always the case. Back in the day when I was working out of my living room, I had a working space of around 16 m2. This included a lounge for my clients to sit on, a beanbag for newborn poses, my large softbox, and a blank wall for family and parent photos. It was difficult and I used to find myself feeling like I had to apologise to my clients. Honestly though? You don’t need a lot of space to make a photoshoot successful. Being photographers, we are the masters of illusion and if you have a look at the behind the scenes of your favourite photographers, you’ll be surprised at where and how they are achieving these images.
Myth #4: You need to rent a commercial studio space at all
Did you know that there are lots of great cost-effective ways to rent a commercial studio space (and often some of the equipment you’ll need for the shoot) without having to sign up for a commercial lease? If you do a quick online search in your area you might be suprised at what options there are out there available to you. If you only need to use a studio for several hours a week, you may be able to negotiate special rates on an ongoing basis.
I hope that all these myths really help you if you’re contemplating leasing a commercial photography studio! I’d love to hear from you and whether these tips have helped you.