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Advice about a first time studio?

12 Sep 2013 5:39PM
Hi there,

Can anyone help me? I do apologise in advance if I sound ignorant and please don't eat me alive!

I'd love to have my own studio in the future, I'm looking to rent in a town in the UK, it won't be just yet because I want to research thoroughly before taking the plunge! I normally work on location and so have never needed a studio before. I would be shooting Portrait photography, families, children, weddings so I don't think the studio needs to be too big but I am a rookie so need advice and I need a plan!

What basic equipment would I need to set up the studio, in terms of lighting, etc?
How do I research what kind of size studio I would need?
What is the best way to advertise and how much would it cost?
Does anyone have any advice on insurance and how that works with a studio?

Thanks in advance!


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mikehit 8 8.0k 13 United Kingdom
12 Sep 2013 6:08PM
Two questions I would ask first of all are what level of experience do you have at the moment and do you have a room at home you can use while you learn what works best for you? Renting space can be a long-term commitment and you don't want to find out your place is the wrong size for your style of photography. Or (if you are a total beginner) you can't bring the work in to fund it.
thewilliam 9 6.1k
12 Sep 2013 7:01PM
There's as big a range of studio lighting equipment as for cameras. Will your budget stretch to Leica S2 and Broncolor lighting? Or is it more likely to be entry-level kit.

If you're planning to open the studio as a business, your first moves should be to find a mentor and formulate a plan. If it's for amusement, visit a good dealer like Calumet and ask for advice.
AlanJ Plus
5 1.0k England
12 Sep 2013 8:50PM
As soon as you take on a studio you will have fixed costs that have to be met week in week out.
Rent, insurance, heat and light, possibly business rates, maintenance costs and that's before you make any money for you. You will need to fund capital equipment, computers, cameras etc.
Advertising, printing telephones the list goes on ........
I have an office on a row of small shops and in the last few years there have been half a dozen businesses start up and fold inside 6 months on the same row. Each of these will have been started with high hopes but no business plan.
Assuming you have the skills to attract custom then before committing to a lease etc draw up a business plan. This should include cash flow forecast setting out ALL of the costs on a monthly basis, including the amount you need to live on. This will tell you how much you need to invoice WEEK IN WEEK OUT. I think you will be surprised ( and probably depressed) at the top line needed.
There really isn't any other way to go.
Good luck but don't trust to it - make the plan. (There are free cash flow templates available online)
Paul_Anthony 6 442 4 Wales
12 Sep 2013 9:03PM

Quote:Will your budget stretch to Leica S2 and Broncolor lighting? Or is it more likely to be entry-level kit.

A tad pompous maybe.

Bowens, Elinchrom, Lencarta, take your pick. They all make exceptional studio lighting designed for use by professionals. We use Lencarta lighting in our studio, we have 5 lights in total and have never had a single problem with them after 4 years of continuos use.

I am sure there will be plenty of good advice to follow regarding business plans, accounts, products etc. ect. all of which will be very helpful and very relevant. But as far as kit goes, be that studio lighting or camera equipment, you should always buy the best that you can afford.
JackAllTog Plus
9 5.0k 58 United Kingdom
13 Sep 2013 1:02PM
Other options might be to buy into a pressure selling franchise or find the other thread on here with someone looking to share.

Again and again on here is the business understanding not the photo skill the seems to make the difference. If you are going to research then do read around on here as there is loads of discussions and tips.

Good luck.
thewilliam 9 6.1k
13 Sep 2013 2:11PM
Some 90% of new photographic businesses last for less than two years.

The survivors are those that do their research before starting, have a good business plan and work with a good mentor.
brian1208 Plus
14 11.4k 12 United Kingdom
13 Sep 2013 9:35PM

Quote:it won't be just yet because I want to research thoroughly before taking the plunge

sounds a bit like Sophia may be doing just that?
ade_mcfade 14 15.2k 216 England
14 Sep 2013 2:07PM
Most of my commercial portraits are done with cheap speedlites which you could "kit up" with for 350 - including triggers. May need a bit more for decent light stands and softboxes etc.

I've got studio lights - i used to have expensive speedlites - but the cheap speedlites are perfect for what I do.

If I did something other than what I do, Id probably need different kit - elinchrom rangers or something like that are always on my radar.


work out what you will do, then kit up accordingly.

If you don't nkow what you will do (and I didn't when I started out - foolishly offering everything to everyone) then I'd suggest the cheap speedlite solution

3 reasons

1 - cheap
2 - flexible - you can go anywhere - moors, roof tops, living rooms, board rooms, studios.... and you don't need to be strong to carry them
3 - knowledge - using cheap manual flash is a great education
Paul Morgan 17 19.1k 6 England
14 Sep 2013 7:20PM
If your already shooting on location I guess you already have speedlites, stands etc.

For a studio proper studio lighting is the way to go and much better with modifiers, soft boxes etc.
stevekhart 12 4.5k 3 United Kingdom
18 Sep 2013 1:25PM
Ade is right - look at what images you want to be offering then kit up accordingly, but I don't mean camera / lighting I mean studio kit. What sets / props will you need? Will you need to offer hair / make-up - in which case you may need a beauty area for the make-up artist to setup? Changing room space? Car-parking? Do you have your own access 24x7? How secure is it if you're busy in the studio room shooting? What about viewing and post-processing? Is there somewhere for friends / children to wait whilst others are being photographed? Do you want to support parties - where would they base themselves whilst the shooting is underway? WIll you do your post-processing on site? Printing? I'd love a photographer to share my studio with me Smile

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