This can be a tough decision to make, so we've come up with our top five topics to consider if you're thinking about opening a photography studio. In a digital world, a lot can be said about not moving into a studio space outside of your home. However, this is not the case for everyone. There's a lot to be taken into account when considering a space, and it really depends on the photographer. Just because you know another photographer who makes a killing out of his/her home doesn't mean it will work for you. Here's some points we put together based off of our experience:
1. Male or Female
A home studio is definitely an easier sell if you're a female. Now, of course we know male photographers who've made this work and are thriving, but most of the time it was a slower process for them. A male asking people(especially women) to come to their house for a shoot can be tough, especially if you don't have a position in the marketplace yet. There's definitely a "scary" factor that women consider when a male photographer asks them to show up at their house, but that's not the case for female photographers. Most men and women don't think twice about going to a female photographers house. For whatever reason, it's just a softer sell.
A lot of photographers don't make the jump because they don't want the overhead. This is the topic that held us from moving into a studio for a long while, and we still regret waiting so long. Once we finally decided to bite the bullet and shell out the cash for a studio, we never looked back. We were surprised at how easy it was to make our rent, plus we had the added motivation to get out there and sell. Lets say you move into a workable studio that costs $1000 a month, and you sell sessions at $400, you only have to make three sales that month to cover your overhead. If you can't make three sales once you hit the street and start hustling, there's a problem, and it doesn't have anything to do with having a space.
Depending on what kind of photographer you are, having a studio is either essential or a waste. If you're a landscape or realty photographer, you don't need a space big enough to shoot in. You should definitely have an office where you can meet with clients and showcase your work, but you don't need a large space to shoot in. If you shoot headshots and portraits, you need one. Relying on locations to do work that you could be doing in a studio isn't a good idea, and it doesn't impress potential customers.
I mentioned motivation earlier, but it's important enough to have its own topic on this list. A lot of people, including myself, lack motivation when it comes to sales. Having the financial responsibility of occupying a studio will definitely force you to make a shift, and drive you to leave the comforts of your laptop and get out there. If you have a day job and make $1,500 a month working photography on the side out of your home, that $1,500 can seem nice. Nice enough to keep you stalled out at that pace. However, if you have that much due every month just to remain open and meet your obligations, you'll work harder at selling. This might seem like a silly thing to say, and that if you really want to be a photographer you'll be motivated no matter what, but that's not always the case. Couches are comfy, and video games are awesome. Personally, I used to hate sales, but making the move to a studio made me stop whining about it because it just simply had to be done.
Exposure is a major factor in the photography business. You can have a million fans online, get your projects featured by major companies, and be a rockstar on the internets, and your phone still won't ring. This is because nobody knows who you are locally, which is a great place to start with steady income. It's great if you get 1,000 likes on a photo online, but the business owners in your home town are the ones who need photography, and they don't know who you are or what you offer. Having a studio with foot traffic is amazing for exposure, and it will give you a steady stream of income instead of waiting for people to call you after looking at your work on a Facebook post. If someone walks past your studio every day it lets them know you're serious, and that you have an established business that can be held accountable if they have any problems. Now, with higher foot traffic comes a higher price, so if you're just starting out we suggest finding a location that will give you even a limited amount of exposure. You have to start somewhere, and you can always move as you grow.
If you're looking to open a studio, we hope this list helps. Here at Spectacle we're all about giving photographers s leg up, and we like to let them know about the struggles we've overcome in the past so they can avoid those pitfalls. If you have any other suggestions that we missed, leave them in the comments below. Someone reading this is considering making the move to a studio, and you should help them out. That's the helpful thing to do, so be helpful. Just remember, Christmas may have just ended, but Santa is still watching you.