How to Design Your Very Own Photo Studio
I recently opened my photo studio Prismatic Studios in downtown Los Angeles, and here are some tips if you finally want to create a space of your own instead of renting studios by the hour.
Questions to ask yourself:
Do I want to share the space with other creatives to split the rent? If so, one option is to draw up a sublease contract with an attorney. You MUST HAVE A CONTRACT. Do NOT share your space with anyone, even a close friend, without an agreement in place to protect your equipment, time, and financial investment.
Do I want to rent it out? If so, check with your landlord first to see if that’s allowed! I recommend listing on Peerspace. Research the competition in your area and see what the average hourly cost is for other studios and what equipment renters might expect you to offer. This will help you with pricing. Consider if you want to include lights or not, which can mean additional set-up work for you and expectations from renters. It’s always good to be present to let clients in and out so there’s a face-to-face and they are more likely to respect the space.
What insurance do I need? Check with an insurance agency on what kind of small business insurance you may need to protect the equipment in the studio as well as any liability with clients. I personally use CHUBB insurance and it’s very reasonable.
Do I need to register an LLC? DBA? Trademark? There are many ways to go about this, I recommend scheduling a consultation with a small business attorney who can help you assess your needs. For example, I have an LLC for my photo business and a DBA through that LLC for my studio. I don't recommend legalzoom, it’s ultimately more costly than going to someone in-person and will be less catered to your specific needs.
What equipment do I need? Make a list of your needs vs. wants for opening the space. Here is a link to my must-have studio equipment. Also be sure to search craigslist for sourcing photo equipment, you can find some real treasures that are barely used!
How should I design the space? Here are some links to the items I used for my studio design. Hanging softboxes on the wall is great for organization. Love these display stands for keeping backdrops organized. Consider how the aesthetic of your space ties into your work and your overall brand. What message do you want to project to clients when they enter your space?
Additional questions to ask a prospective landlord: Are the ceilings high enough for backdrops? Is there ground floor loading? Freight elevator? Will the voltage work for my equipment? Is natural light available? Would we have rooftop access to shoot? Is there parking available for my clients? Would I have 24hr access for shoots?