Where to start? That is a question I have been contemplating since deciding to rebuild my website and re-launch my blog page. There are so many things to talk about; gear, clients, lighting, behind the scenes, marketing, pricing, post production… the list goes on and on.
I will fully admit to struggling with not only choosing the most appropriate starting place for this blog but also what voice do I want to use to bring life to this text? Do I use the voice of a self taught photographer who is hungry for knowledge? Do I use the seasoned professional who “knows it all” or do I speak plainly as I would if we were having a one-on-one conversation?
Here is what I have decided for this blog; it’s an open, honest ride with me on the journey of my business, career and all of the challenges faced being equal parts creative and entrepreneur. I will talk about everything from lighting to post production and from marketing and client relations. I would also like to talk about the struggles of a working photographer. I am truly blessed to have such a creative career doing something I love more than words can express, but that doesn’t make the task of being an owner/operator any easier. How do you find clients? How do you market and brand yourself? There are so many things that go into operating a business and being a successful photographer that are over looked for the more glamorous aspects of the career. I would like to address some of those issues as well over the course of the life cycle of this blog.
That being said where do we start? How about with my studio?
I feel really blessed to have had the opportunities I have in my career. I have worked really hard to make the most out of them and not waste a chance to grow my business or my craft. With savvy financial planning and positive business growth I was able to rebuild the old, crumbling garage into a sleek, modern studio with all the bells and whistles a photographer could dream of.
These pictures were taken just after I purchased this house. You can see the garage at the back of the picture.
The old garage was the perfect size for a small, private studio. You could squeeze two cars in here if you needed to if that half wall and washer dryer wasn’t there. Now I promise you even this horrible photo makes the space look better than it was. It would flood with heavy Florida rains, it was musty as a result and the walls were ready to fall in on themselves if you hit them too hard.
So I rebuilt it and by I, I mean I hired a contractor. From the ground up we rebuilt everything. The foundation, the walls, the roof and even built an attached external shed for all things garage.
I am a planner and a details guy. When making images, I want them to look a certain way for a particular reason therefore I must communicate clearly with my team and give them direction. I found the same with the studio design. I planned it to the inch. I knew space was limited and if I left it up to my contractor to build it as he sees fit, it wouldn’t fit my needs as a photographer. For example, do you really need 74 wall outlets? Why yes I do, because each one is accounted for and has purpose.
A little different don’t you think? We started buy reinforcing the foundation and pouring a completely new slab. Due to flooding issues we poured the slab 4 inches thick to help elevate it above the Florida rains. Once that was done we reinforced the framing and structure and replaced the roof and added 4 skylights for natural light.
As a photographer, controlling light is key, so we added black out blinds to the skylights so I can block all the natural light coming through if need be. The corrugated corner hides the washer and dryer we well as storage and the addition of a utility sink for hair and make-up.
The three beams actually hide my lighting. I designed all three beams to be on individual dimmers that direct light up into the ceiling. Essentially creating a super soft light source meant to mimic the skylights. There is my desk, which I will get into in a later blog post.
On the opposite wall there is storage, heating, A/C, a make-up station complete with a hydraulic salon chair and the mirror has an internal light in the white circle that helps minimize light pollution when shooting.
Is it a small space yes, but you don’t need a huge space and this was planned to the inch to maximize what I had. I can shoot headshots or full length. It is perfect for portraits. Anything larger, I can rent and not have to carry the overhead annually. It’s about working smarter not harder right?