Place for a new photo studio

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by Daniel_OB, Jan 23, 2007.

  1. Daniel_OB

    Daniel_OB Member

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    I have to switch to studio people portrait photography, and I am building a nice and large studio in underground basement of my house.
    1. Can basement and walking downstairs be something distracting in mind of customers, something that will make them to say NO. Is “basement and walking downstairs” any disadvantage.
    3. Does it all looks professional and serious? Does it looks going into the hole?

    Anyone with experience around the same problem.
    www.Leica-R.com
     
  2. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    A fellow Apuger who has extensive experience in the portrait world very recently told me that the home studio was now the most successful business model for portrait photographers.

    The basement will be of no disadvantage by its self. What is more important is that the space is finished and presented in a profesional manner. (so move the dungeon equipt somewhere else)
     
  3. Daniel_OB

    Daniel_OB Member

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    Thanks a lot Brunner. Your comment is so encouraging.

    To enter into the studio customers have to come into the house and walk down along nice and carpeted stairs. The studio area (and passage through house too) will be very nice, pleasing to eye, well ventilated and lighted, and with enough space for anyone to feel comfortable. It will consist of office with large mirrors plus makeup stuff, and free juice or coffee offer, darkroom, and large shooting room, all separated by walls. Examples of framed portraits already done, will be all over the place, except the shooting room. The height of the shooting room is not as I wish but I can handle the problem. Simple, the whole basement will be dedicated to the business.
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  4. MikeSeb

    MikeSeb Member

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    I'm sure you know already to discuss this with your homeowners' insurance agent, to make sure you have adequate insurance for the liability exposure you will be facing. Most homeowners' policies won't cover risks for on-premise businesses without at least a rider, or perhaps a different policy altogether.

    I realize that your situation in Canada may be different than ours down here in Tort Land, but you'd hate to lose everything you've worked for because someone trips on those stairs.
     
  5. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    It sound to me you have it covered, and Michaels advice about the insurance is very worth looking in to. Make sure you are ok zoning wise, as well. Make or break for you will be based much more on your work, than where it is done. Many people are much more comfortable going to a residence, than the part of town many photo studios are in.
     
  6. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    In addition to zoning issues, you may have problems with legislated access requirements for the handicapped. Some areas require wheelchair access for new businesses.

    You may also be increasing your chances for a break-in at your home.

    The up side - the commute time to your studio will be great!

    Good luck.

    Matt
     
  7. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Basements don't usually have high ceilings. One can work in all sorts of spaces, but if you're building a new studio, 12 foot ceilings or higher are a plus.
     
  8. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    In Utah, access rules are generally waved for home-based business, but such endevours aren't allowed any substantial in and out traffic, as well. Most any problem you have with regulation will be based on the traffic and visibility of your business.
     
  9. eddym

    eddym Member

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    Once you get them to come to your house for a portrait, getting them to go down the stairs should be the least of your problems. Getting the client in the door is your biggest hurdle.
    I just closed my portrait studio after trying for 3 years to get all the Audis, BMWs, Lexuseses, and Range Rovers that drive right in front of it all day, every day, to turn into my parking lot. Very few of them did, so I'm going back to the "Studio in my house" and "-on location" tactics that I used before. At least the overhead was a lot lower!
     
  10. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    This was my thought also. A basement studio will deny access to most physically challenged individuals. Matt would know more about legal requirements in Canada.

    Is it possible to convert a garage instead? That would solve the access issue and also mitigate the break-ins risk.
     
  11. blaze-on

    blaze-on Member

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    I cater more toward on location for corporate clients, well, at least it's the majority of my portrait work. They usually need updated photos every year for annual reports PSA's and such, so steady (yearly) recurrence. By setting up a simple backdrop (sometimes I use marbled piece of mat board), and three lights usually does it nice. Using their conference room, etc., a stool (I have a folder in case), you offer them convenience and they are happy with that aspect. That way the subject only misses 10-20 minutes. Not exactly intimate or specialty stuff, but it pays well.

    Other stuff I do in house as well, and don't have a rider for liability. I tear down and set up when needed. If it's more room I need (larger groups, fashion type stuff) I have a salon who lets me use their space in back, which has ample height. If that won't do it, I then rent a studio spot from the videographers I use (subcontract) for various jobs. They charge me very little, if any, as I often get them referrals.

    I'd love to have a dedicated space and wish you well. It sounds nice.
    The height is the only detriment and sounds like you've accepted working around that.

    The smell of fresh coffee would lure me just about anywhere...
     
  12. Daniel_OB

    Daniel_OB Member

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    MattKing
    "You may also be increasing your chances for a break-in at your home."

    Yes this is a big problem, and even all kind of "polite" securities will not work very well. I think there is only one solution. Someone have to be at home ALL the time and even to show up his presence.
    A safe however heavy can also disappear with all its contents. Even I already have motion devices security, but what comes on my mind is to install and 110V electrical wire security inside the house (and I am able to make it) and inform police about the same.

    Matt, what is zonning?

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  13. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Zoning is very important

    Daniel:

    Your municipality will have rules respecting what types of activities can occur in what areas - each area or "zone" will permit certain things, but not others.

    This allows areas that are set aside for uses such as residential to not have to deal with some of the problems (noise, traffic, etc.) that arise when you have commercial or industrial users nearby.

    It is very important that you check with the municipality. If your intended use is not permitted, they can close you down, fine you, and, in the worst case, come in and remove your equipment. In addition, non-permitted uses can have an affect on your insurance (studio lights + fire + denied coverage = awful).

    The municipality will also be the party that determines whether there are special rules requiring handicap access.

    Most residential areas permit some, but not all commercial use. You need to check!

    A local lawyer who specializes in zoning issues could help a lot.

    Hope this helps.

    Matt
     
  14. Daniel_OB

    Daniel_OB Member

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  15. raucousimages

    raucousimages Member

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    My studio is in my basement but I also use my living room (great window light and grand piano) and my bedroom for glamour (vaulted ceiling) even the garage (think young bride,teddy, mustang). No one seems to mind where we shoot if the results are good, know the limitations of the room you are using. The greatest problem with a home studio is the house must be CLEAN! Dirty dished on the counter or laundry on the sofa won't cut it. If I can I shoot at the clients house. some of my clients have million dollar homes or great cars, boats Etc... and love to show them off. Use their home for the studio, it's their life you are photographing. Also use local parks, resorts, churches and other locations. With some of the locations within 10 miles of me why would I want to use my little studio if I dont need to. JBrunner is right, PPofA released a study that showed the studios with the highest profit margins were home based. I.E. low overhead.
     
  16. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    If you are doing the kind of work that the public cannot get anywhere else, they don't care one bit where you studio is. They just want it.

    I don't use outside signs because of home invasion.

    My home is spotless at all times and nobody is around or visible but me. I don't want my clients feeling that they are intruding by walking into a home, so there is never anybody else sitting there or coming and going.

    Naturally all clients come by appointment only.

    As for disabled clients which I've never had, but I would get around it by offering to do work for them at their home, or another location. That way the disabilities act will not apply.

    Since I sell mostly large prints, I also deliver them to their home and even offer to hang them. That way they don't have to try and cart them home with them.

    Michael
     
  17. Gary Holliday

    Gary Holliday Member

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    People have remote studios down back streets and up steep staircases so as long as it's well lit and professional looking decor there will be no problem.

    I intend to do portraits in peoples' homes, but either way you'll need personal liabilty insurance for when your lighting stands mark their floor, or someone twists an ankle going down those stairs.
     
  18. Daniel_OB

    Daniel_OB Member

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    Thank a lot to everyone. So useful.
    With what is going around journalism, I decided to quit forever. I have intention to use the studio just in case someone want studio photograph, but I expect, when turn to portrait, the most shooting will be on location, and around 30% inside the studio. Studio is, I think, a must I need or not. It just shows how serious photog is, it shows his professionasm and comitment, it makes up perception about a photog. My basement is unfinished and large so I will make a nice and clean studio. I have one year to start my photography all over.

    Thanks again
    Daniel OB