Sunday, November 14, 2010

Studio Issues

Jen & Ashley at MRB Studios, St. Johns
It is mid-autumn here in the Northern Hemisphere and in the Pacific Northwest that means it's the beginning of our gray, cold and wet season which will last until at least the middle of March when the sun breaks begin to become more frequent and the temperatures start to rise. This is the time of year when I move my photography to the studio or to other indoor venues. As I have a three-part project that requires two of the three settings to be indoors, this usually isn't a problem. Unfortunately, for the second time in two years I've lost access to the studio I've been using for my on-going projects.

Gabriell as the Blood Sorceress - MRB Studios
In 2009 I found a great place to shoot in the St. Johns area of North Portland. Eric Rose, the studio's owner, gave me a great deal on using the studio and it was simply a matter of scheduling the time in advance on the studio's calendar. The studio was fairly large, allowing for some elaborate sets, and had easy access to bathrooms, a cafe and excellent parking. There were four photographers sharing it on a regular basis, and I never really had a difficult time getting the time I needed for my shoots.

I was able to shoot in that studio for almost the entire year and the only drawback was the large skylights at the top of the studio and provided great natural light during the day, but which limited and complicated the use of studio lights until after sunset. Toward the end of 2009, though, Eric decided to move to a smaller studio. That made a lot of sense for him, since he primarily shoots portraits and head shots for agency work.  I checked out his new studio after he moved and it was simply too small for what I normally shoot--it simply couldn't support that elaborate set-ups that I use for most of my indoor photography.  I could see how it was a great place for Eric, though, with its great natural light and textured wall.

Audi at Tim Gunther Studio
For a while I looked into getting my own studio. I found a great place in a fine location and seriously considered leasing the location. The space was actually a 2000 square foot warehouse with an office area and a bathroom. The high ceilings, roll-up garage door, and area dimensions were near perfect, but I couldn't justify the cost of the lease for the amount of studio shooting I do. I thought if I could find a partner we could share the expenses and lease the space out to other photographers, hold classes, and conduct seminars to make up the cost of the space, but I couldn't find a willing partner to share the space with me.

I had been looking on various forums for weeks and perused the commercial space ads on Craig's List hoping to find something suitable. I finally broke down and posted an ad myself seeking a space to shoot and fortunately Tim Gunther of Tim Gunther studios sent me an e-mail and we came to an agreement and I started using his studio space in February of 2010.

As a studio, it was even better than the previous place in St. Johns. Tim's studio has a single skylight which doesn't interfere much with the studio lights, a dressing room, a bathroom, and several storage rooms. Tim was easy to work with and there was ample studio time available for me projects. The cost was a bit more than what I paid in St. Johns, but I managed to stay within my budget while shooting there from February to May. Of course, in May, I moved back to my outdoor settings and continued to work my projects with the expectation to returning to the studio during this time of year.

Unfortunately, Tim had the building sold out from under him and my last shoot in his studio will be the weekend of December 4th. I'm booking my models now and also hope to do a family shoot of my grandchildren that weekend as well. So, after the first of December I'll be looking for studio space again.  If you have any suggestions, don't hesitate to let me know.

Sivonna the Sorceress at Tim Gunther Studios

1 comment:

Triplemoon - Marcus and Bridge said...

Come visit us…. While it’s a bit far – we do have a pseudo studio space available. I have some casting calls out to start a series soon and the space is working well.