When Is It Time to Open Your Own Studio?

Do you find yourself renting a studio and wondering if perhaps it's time to make the leap and invest in your own space? It's time to check out Nathan Elson's latest YouTube video.

Elson, a commercial photographer in Calgary, Canada, has just released a YouTube video about the pros and cons of moving into his own studio space. With three years worth of reflection, his video is a wealth of information. 

Running contrary to the sunshine and rainbows that is modern social media, Elson actual takes the time to talk about the cons as well as explain a few things that he may have done differently. In effect, his video actually helps other photographers instead of just making them feel inadequate in light of his success. He comes off very honest and avoids the humble brag. 

Nathan Elson shooting in his studio

Refreshing and worth a subscribe.

I'm especially interested in his discussion around the idea that if you build it they will come. His frank comments that you need to determine where your business comes from before taking the leap is great advice.

Near the end of the video, Elson talks about a less common issue, which is how to avoid creative laziness if you do decide to go the studio route. He notes that he has to occasionally challenge himself to shoot outside the studio to keep the creative juices flowing. It's something that every studio photographer should think about.

An example of Nathan Elson's work

Elson's video also provides us with a quick tour of his studio. If you're setting up your own space, there are a few things to consider:

  1. Multiple areas to shoot
  2. A natural light shooting area
  3. Two makeup stations
  4. Client sitting area and client work area
  5. Somewhere to chill stocked with water and food
  6. Storage space, which keeps gear out of the way

He also has a record player; wish we could have seen what records he has in his collection!

Another example of Nathan Elson's work.

I also strongly recommend that you take a spin through Elson's work if you're looking for inspiration. 

If you have thought about investing in a studio, what factors have you weighed? Does the wow factor Elson talks about influence your decision?

All images by Nathan Elson and used with permission.

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11 Comments

When is the right time?

1. When you don't need to borrow a single dime to so.

2. When doing so will substantially save you time and or rental costs or substantially result increased business revenue and quality of life.

Mark Dunsmuir's picture

Thanks for taking the time to comment Timothy, appreciate your input. I agree completely with your second suggestion. However, I don't agree entirely with your first. Business often take on manageable levels of debt to expand. I don't think that personal photography brands would be any different.
Of course, I'd certainly agree there needs to be a risk analysis and the debt must be manageable.

Michael Jin's picture

1. I disagree with this. Just like any business, it is not necessarily a poor decision to take out some form of a business loan. Yes, there is risk to consider, but anyone who is going to give you a loan will likely want to see some sort of plan for how they will get their money back. If anything, trying to get a loan will force you to think about the viability of your business plans more critically than you might have otherwise.

2. I definitely agree with this.

Mark Dunsmuir's picture

Think we're on exactly the same page!

David Penner's picture

Interesting fact about Nathan is he is color blind. That is why most of his work and videos are all in black and white.

Michael Jin's picture

That's actually fascinating. Thanks for adding this. :)

David T's picture

I opened a studio that I use as a gaming club/arcade style in the off time.

Mark Dunsmuir's picture

Interesting (and fun) way to keep your overhead low!