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How to choose the best spaces to use as a photography studio

The growing prevalence of co-working spaces has opened a world of possibilities for photographers; offering an affordable, permanent base or simply a studio for a one-day shoot.

But picking the right one can be tricky. We spoke to two photographers who use co-working spaces to get their tips on what how to choose the right space.

Daniel Herrmann-Zoll, a photographer based at The Commons in Collingwood, in Melbourne’s inner-north, and Jason Malouin, a Brisbane-based headshot and portrait photographer who runs Portrait Store share their four things to look for in a space.

Photo shoot

Co-working spaces offer great opportunities for photographers. Picture: Alexander Dummer/Unsplash

1. Find the right location

Location and accessibility are key. Can you get there easily and quickly? Can your clients park somewhere? Can you bump in and out easily?

Accessibility plays a very important role when looking for studios to hire for a day or to set-up an office at.

“I’ve hired studios on the fourth floor before … with no lift. Have fun carrying 200 kilograms of gear up four flights before and after a long shoot!” Herrmann-Zoll says.

He says ground-floor spaces or those with a lift are easier to shoot in and save a lot of time ferrying equipment around.

Malouin says the physical amount of space is important too. Almost every photographer uses lights of some size or description, so being about to fit them in a space is paramount, he explains.

“I need to set-up a couple of lights, keep them out of the frame and then still get back far enough to create images with sufficient ‘negative space’,” he says, so square meterage matters.

2. Think about storage

When looking to rent a space for the longer term, storage should be a big consideration, Herrmann-Zoll says.

As photographers generally have a lot of equipment, and need a place to keep it safe, this should be at the top of your list.

If you can’t keep at least some of your most-used equipment at the office, then you’ll spend a lot of time driving it in between wherever you store your equipment and your office.

3. Light control & aesthetics

This will depend on the individual photographer, with some needing natural light and others needing a space that you can block as much light as possible.

When looking at studios with big windows and a lot of natural light, make sure they have good blinds to black out the room, advises Herrmann-Zoll.

“There’s nothing worse than shooting glassware and seeing light poking in behind the curtains reflecting in your shot.”

For Malouin, aesthetics matter. He looks for feature walls; anything with some texture or colour.

Furniture, especially simple and sharp chairs, are a big plus, he adds. “Tables are super-important, as I’m always on the hunt for a good surface. Great windows are a bonus and sometimes nice floors play a role.”

Externally, he looks for things like interesting entrance ways, rooftop areas or patios, nice nearby cafes or funky alleyways.

photography shoot

Consider the lighting options in any space. Image: Krists Luhaers/Unsplash

4. Lay-out, privacy & amenities

Lots of other seemingly small things should also be on a photographer’s checklist when looking for a space.

Consider whether there is a kitchen, a fridge, space for clients to relax, space for the team to come together to chat. These can play a big part in how relaxed a shoot is on the day.

A food photographer “would be crazy” to move into a studio without a kitchen and a fashion photographer would take a cyclorama (a curved wall used to suggest unlimited space) over a kitchen any day, Herrmann-Zoll adds.

“I work with people in advertising who are always working on three different jobs and have days packed full of conference calls and meetings. Having a little space for them to be able to have a meeting or a phone call and not be disturbed is a massive bonus.”

Also think about privacy. “Privacy is so important to all types of jobs. Companies big and small invest large amounts of money in product development, campaign development and photography and often don’t want anything getting out about their products until the launch date, for obvious reasons.”

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