Do You Need a Studio?

In this video I look at if you need a studio to be a professional studio. From a traditional shooting studio through to a place for meetings and post production. I discuss different photographers requirements for a working space.

Not all photographers shoot in a photographic studio regularly, some of us not at all. However, most of us will need some form of work space to conduct our hobby or business. And for those of us who do shoot in a studio, knowing when to get your own space rather than taking on daily rentals can be a real stress point. 

When I got my first studio I was pretty broke and it was a huge financial risk that could have gone very wrong. Thankfully it didn't and it was also one to the biggest catalysts that kick started my career. Nevertheless, it is not an approach that I would recommend to anyone else as I discuss in this video. 

Through this video I look at the requirements for a space and what different photographers might need from it as well as going into the practicalities and costings of having your own photographic studio. I also look at how you need to approach the costing justification of a studio space and how you can make it financially work for you as a professional photographer or just a hobbyist who would love to have a place to call their own for their creative endeavors. 

For me, having a studio is a must, being able to be creative and make masses of mess as well as the more logistical aspect of having somewhere to store all of my junk is really important. I also love having a space that I can have just for work, meaning that when I come home at the end of the day, for the most part my working life is left behind. 

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Jon The Baptist's picture

Unless you're shooting in that studio once a week, or it's really, really cheap, then it becomes an expensive, glorified storage unit.

Studio rental day rates in my town are so cheap, too. $500/day gets you 1200sqft with a freshly painted cove, kitted out with grip. At prices that cheap, why have your own space that would be objectively worse?

Lee Christiansen's picture

I've got a modest little studio here in London.

Essentially a slightly larger than average garage with a high ceiling, I painted the walls black to keep light under control and installed roll hangers and light fixtures to the walls and ceiling. The floor was slippy and on a slope so I had a new floor installed with a hospital grade non-slip vinyl surface.

Probably cost me a mere £2500 to make the conversion. It's not a huge space, (Scott - I'm envious), but it is big enough for headshots, portraits and product work.

I have the largest room in the house set as my dedicated post production / edit suite / office.

Unlike Scott, I prefer the flexibility of not needing to lock the door and leaving work at the end of the day. It means I can take a break and return to things a little later in the evening if the TV is boring. But I have learnt the importance of self discipline and can now happily switch the computer off and close the door.

It also means I can accept small jobs that hiring a studio would be difficult to justify. My gear is already here, and often still set up from a previous shoot, and after 25+ yrs of TV filming, (I have a few strings to my bow), I've got tired of hauling all that gear around - so whilst I shoot on location too, I do enjoy being able to have things already on their light stands.

Working from home has always been great for me. No office space to eat up profits and an ability to be more flexible with my time. However, it also eats up house space and so I have a larger mortgage to live in a smaller space. It also means home insurance is trickier, (particularly so as I live 20 ft from a river so insurers don't like me much).

For me, flexibility, less stress and time are factors why I work from home. It's why I've almost always owned gear rather than hired... I factor in a £££ amount towards the grief of hiring in / returning / phoning for availability... And like equipment, there can be tax benefits for use of home, so never forget to factor this in when calculating costs.

Having a studio is a wonderful bonus. I've more than covered any costs in building it. But working from home is great too. I am blessed with space at the side of my house and have been considering an extension for a bigger, dedicated studio space. Interestingly I'm considering a sizeable wooden cabin structure which would be fully insulated. Importantly it would be free standing so the tax man can't get a slice of my home value if I claim as a deductible and sell my home in years to come. And as a cabin is technically removable and rebuildable, I can get the VAT back. Turns out a 24ft x 15ft studio space might only cost £15,000 after I've pulled back my tax benefits... mmm...

I'd certainly echo Scotts feelings about having a studio. But consider the benefits of working it from home if the possibility is realistic. With a little self discipline it can be a real bonus.