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What do you expect from a studio?
Old 09-30-2004, 09:17 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Greetings Everyone:

I have a few questions for everyone. When you rent a studio what features do you expect it to contain and be provided to you? What would you like to see available even though you may not have seen that in a studio before? In short what would your dream studio contain?

I'm asking this because I'm exploring the possablity of opening a studio in the Everett, Washington area which will be available for hourly rental as well as be available for my own use. I know what I like but I'm hoping to get some independant viewpoints.

Thanks for your time.

Scott

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Re: What do you expect from a studio?
Old 09-30-2004, 10:48 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I'm facing the same issue right now here in Chicago..I just opened my studio and am working on it as we speak...probably the first thing is a GOOD changing room/make up room for the models with room to MOVE around and GOOD lighting and racks and hangers to hang the outfits on...a steamer is a good idea also...cheap at the price when you see the way most models pack their outfits...A nice CLEAN bathroom with soft soap etc. and TOWELS...some of us use baby oil and water to get a certain look...models have to get cleaned up..a SHOWER would be nice...working on that one... Added wardrobe on hand for those that need that something to accessorize or simply don't HAVE that little black dress and stockings (you can get lots of them on Ebay for around $2.00 a pair if you by like, 50..again, cheap at the price rather than NOT have what you need...etc. A stocked fridge...water, pop...whatever...coffee and coffee maker!...found out THAT can be a biggie...with models...grins...2-3 shooting bays so you can maximize your time shooting instead of setting up over and over again...props...lots of props..computer access for those in the digital mode...PRIVACY...I have an outer office...locking door with a sign that states a shoot is in progress so there are no intrusions...I also keep a private office to discuss MY business with clients...in quiet...at least ONE person available to help move heavier objects and adjust lighting to assist you...and I am still thinking about more myself...but, that's what I look for and provide in my studio....and more suggestions are welcome.
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Re: What do you expect from a studio?
Old 10-01-2004, 12:45 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Scott asks:
[ QUOTE ]
In short what would your dream studio contain?

[/ QUOTE ]

1. Large (!) shooting area with:
(a) one wall completely covered by mirrors...
(b) the opposite wall covered by floor to ceiling windows facing north
(c) enough space to have a couple of setups going at the same time
(d) chairs, tables, stools, couches, canopy bed, window flats, paintable wall flats, maybe a cyclorama
(e) enough storage/shelf space for my equipment to be at close at hand
(f) air conditioned down to 70 degrees with every damned light in the studio turned on full blast in the middle of summer (!)
(g) heatable to 80 degrees in the middle of winter
(g) large garage door access to studio big enough for a Hummer to drive into the studio

2. Several light setups with softboxes, umbrellas, dishes, barndoors, snoots, cranes, etc.

3. Dressing area with closet space, makeup table with stage lights, etc. Private restroom for the model(s).

4. Kitchenette with fridge, bottled water cooler, microwave, sink, table

5. Break area adjacent to kitchenette with couch / chair / TV / stero

6. Office area with editing station, good monitors, printer, high speed internet, etc.

Oh, and the studio would rent to me for $25/hour or $100/all day.

Hey, you did say "dream studio", right? [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/blush.gif[/img]

Wayne

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Re: What do you expect from a studio?
Old 10-01-2004, 12:52 AM   #4 (permalink)
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You need to decide if you're offering a rental studio, or a fantasy shooting space. In a traditional rental studio, you start with a big empty room. High ceilings, white or neutral walls, smooth floor (concrete, linolium or hardwood) and good access hopefully by a large roll up door or freight elevator. Add a clean restroom, makeup station (or room), changing room, lounging/client area, stereo, kithchenette (fridge, sink, coffeemaker, and microwave at minimum), phone, maybe air conditioning, and lots of power (especially for hot light shooters). Everything else is a luxury which adds to your desirability and for which you can possibly charge: Internet connection, shower, private offices, grip equipment, backgrounds, props, strobe system. In my old studio, we rented it out on a daily basis including everything I just listed (but we had no shower) except for strobes and specialty backgrounds, for which we charged extra. Whatever props or wardrobe happened to be around from previous shoots we would offer on a case-by-case basis. But remember, we were running a full-time commercial studio, and renting to professional photographers who brought their own cameras, lights, stying elements, etc. But that's what a typical professional rental studio is - 4 walls and you bring the creativity. I like a studio with a *minimum* shooting space of about 20'x35', with 14' ceilings. More is better. Our studio had a 25'x40' dedicated shooting space, plus all the extras mentioned above (and our private offices). If you do have your own office in the space, you should consider some method of creating privacy for your renter if you'll be there while they work.

Now there are some fantasy photo shoot facilities - Alan at So Cal Pro models is an excellent example - where they do have multiple rooms settings and shooting bays, all sorts of wardrobe is available, a model referral list, etc, and they rent by the hour or whatever. Although I've never used it, I saw it at one of Rolando's workshops and it seemed like a great facility, but unless you want all of that kind of service, its overkill (although in Alan's case, the cost is very reasonable, and the space is very large). (Note - I don't work for Alan, only met him once).

So which studio do you want to be? Whichever it is, make sure you have liabilty insurance as well as theft for your equipment. Unless you are willing to have your insurance cover your customers (if a model trips and sues, she sues you) then you should require your renters to have a Certificate of Insurance, which names you as a co-insured on their policy, usually for a million dollars. Its not expensive for them, it only cost me $25 when I rent a location and its good until my policy renewal date. You should also think about how much of your equipment you are willing to share (or rent) to your clients. While a "C" stand can take a lot of abuse and is fairly cheap to replace, a camera is neither. Also, remember that maintenance and cleaning is very important, and likely to be more complicated if you have all those rooms and sets to maintain.

One more thing - parking!

Regards,
Andy Pearlman
Andy Pearlman Studio
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Andy pretty much covered it, but ...
Old 10-01-2004, 01:58 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Andy pretty much covered it. all I could add is that a cyc is pretty much vital in my view.
My place
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Re: What do you expect from a studio?
Old 10-01-2004, 10:11 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Thanks for all the ideas. The building I'm looking at is wide with a large roleup door in the front next to the office enterance. It's a warehouse space so it has enough ceiling hight to actually build a loft over the office area. I thought of placing the dressing room and lounge and a store room to the left side next to the office giving plenty of space to shoot left to right. A cyclorama will be to the right side and with the door right there it will be very easy to pull a vehicle in for shooting. The loft over the office will provide a great overhead shooting spot looking across the open floor to the cyclorama.

The loft over the offices/dressing room/lounge, might be big enough to place a room set designed generic enough that with a change of furnature it could look like a bedroom, office, bath, etc. Although without reviewing the local building codes it might run into issues with handycap accessability with only a staircase going up to it.

Here is a question on the dressing room. I planed to build it with a full bathroom/shower in it but generally speaking is one dressing room enough? Should there be two? Or maybe one with enough room for several models to change kind of like the theaters have. I mention this because I did see one studio with one large changing room once before. I'm kind of leaning to the idea of two small individule changing rooms.

Also when you offer extras like lights, props, backdrops do you usually charge per item or a flat hourly fee to cover all lights and another to cover all props?

Is it a good idea to keep a list of local makeup artists and services like caterers, camera stores, local restaurants that deliver, at hand just in case?

And here is another though that I need to start planning, what is the best way to market the studio? I plan to make it known to the local PPA and drop fliers at the area camera stores. I also plan to list it everyware I can. Would a yellow pages ad be of any value? How about ads in some of the better camera mags. like shutterbug, etc.?

Wow, my head is so full of stuff to think about. Is there anything I'm overlooking that anyone can think of?

Thanks for you time.

Scott
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Studio size
Old 10-02-2004, 06:11 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I'm getting ready to rebuild my place and the studio space I am doing is (currently) 23x60 with about 10 feet at the back end for model changing room/makeup/shower.... so dedicated shooting space is 23x50. 16 ft. ceilings.

I'll do a separate 20x20 area with 12' ceilings for prop and equipment storage.

Would you consider that enuf?

Unfortunately, living on the beach here means everything is elevated on pilings, so no rollup doors or 'vators.
 
 
Re: Studio size
Old 10-03-2004, 01:49 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Hell yes its enough, if that's only the shooting space (+ offices, makeup, dressing room, bathroom?). I would love that kind of depth and ceiling height, although dragging all my equipment up and down stairs could get old real fast. That's why I like a roll-up door (assuming one is on the ground) and also to bring in large props and set pieces.

Regards,
Andy Pearlman
Andy Pearlman Studio
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Re: What do you expect from a studio?
Old 10-03-2004, 05:20 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I think the one large dressing room is fine (but two seperate bathrooms is really nice, especially if one has a shower). Models usually aren't shy, and if you have a stylist its easier for them to work in one big room seperate from the shooting srea. If your models ARE shy, maybe design it with a large main styling room (including the makeup station), and some small changing stalls behind a curtain, like in a clothing store. I've found its easier to plan things when they can all see and hear each other easily.

It sounds like your space is similar to my old one, and many studios, in warehouse/industrial situations. These make great studios because, amoung other things, you don't have to worry about making noise, keeping strange hours, and parking. Yes, definitly keep a list of vendors, your renters will appreciate it especially if they're from out of the area. Get menus from the restaurants, it makes ordering for lunch much easier. As for renting your stuff to them, make it easy on everyone, charge a flat fee per day for what you rent. Either by the item, or say, for "lighting equipment" or "camera equipment" (bad idea BTW) or whatever. We used to include a strobe pack and three heads with a rental, anything extra was at the same rates our local pro shops charged (except they didn't have to pick it up).

Basically the more services you offer, whether included or extra, the less work your clients have to do, and the more they will appreciate your facility. And don't forget to charge a "clean-up" fee if they don't leave the place as they found it, and make sure they have trash cans available. Of course you'll want to really clean up after them (restrooms and the kitchen for example) but I've seen some pigs leave a real mess. If you have a painted floor or cove, you should charge to repaint them if they mess them up. Don't forget insurance too. Your rental clients should present you with a Certificate of Insurance naming you as a co-insured. Its either very cheap or free to them, so there's no reason why they shouldn't be able to get one if they're in business. If they are an individual hobbiest, you should check with your own insurance broker to determine your liability and build something into your rental fee. You don't want some photographer having a model do some trick that causes her to break a leg, and then come back to sue you.

Regards,
Andy Pearlman
Andy Pearlman Studio
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Re: What do you expect from a studio?
Old 10-03-2004, 11:08 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Thanks again Andy your experience and advise is golden. One last though, any advise on marketing a studio? I know word of mouth is best but that is always built up over time. What about when your just starting up?

Scott
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