Not too long ago I posted on my Facebook page asking for questions from photographers for my next blog post. A question came through about how to choose a studio partner, and I thought it was so fabulous that it deserved its very own post.
Many photographers are interested in having their own studio, but let’s face it… between rent, insurance, electric, maintenance, licensing… it easily runs a thousand dollars a month or more, depending on where you live. Why not find someone you trust to split the cost? Here’s my story.
Towards the end of 2011, I was really itching to get into a studio space… I had been dreaming about it for years, but wasn’t in a position financially to do it on my own. I spent some time looking around and toying with different ideas, and I decided that sharing a space with another photographer was the best route to go. I wanted someone who was similar, but different… if that makes sense. Someone with a great personality, an established business (with all of their legal ducks in a row), and a great portfolio that I could work with and not worry about competition.
Enter: Erin Dietrich Photography.
Erin doesn’t photograph weddings, and I don’t photograph families and older kids… we do overlap in newborn territory, but our style of photography is so different that we’re not really ‘competition’ for each other.
(The images above were all taken inside of our studio space.)
After a few Facebook chats, we met for lunch to compare notes… as it turned out, we had the same ideas in mind! So we started studio shopping right away… and about a month later we had signed a lease on a cute storefront in Market Commons. (2 impatient New York girls = fast results!)
Oh, and did I mention we were both expecting? Yup… 2 pregnant ladies putting together a studio. Our husbands definitely had their work cut out for them!
We compromised on paint colors and picked out hardwood flooring to give this drab storefront a fabulous makeover. As for the funding, we split everything that we shared right down the middle… flooring, paint, furniture, cleaning supplies, etc. The legal end was actually much easier than I had anticipated… we rent our space through a real estate company, and our agent was fantastic. He put both of our businesses on the lease, so we are equally responsible. We share the space, but we’re each required to take care of our own business legal needs… liability insurance, city licensing, taxes, etc.
Together, but separate. The perfect partnership.
Wall display space is divided equally, and we each have our own tables to show off our style. We share our paper backdrops (Savage paper from B&H), but not our props. Our individual hats, props and blankets are how we keep our styles unique and separate.
What really sold me on this space was the pocket doors that separate the front room from the back room. My OCD loves being able to separate the back office from the shooting space.
Our custom built desk was an awesome idea that Erin found on Pinterest. Desk space is divided equally, and again you can see the difference in our brands. The prop storage… needs some organization… we are both major prop junkies! (If you have any ideas on how we can better organize our prop area, please drop a comment here. I’d love to hear your suggestions!) You don’t want to know what the storage closet looks like… seriously. Let’s just say that I buy entirely too many blankets!
We even made the bathroom pretty. (And yes, that’s me in the mirror with my new 5D Mark III!)
One of the biggest things I was concerned about when setting up a joint studio was splitting up studio time. We wanted to make sure that we weren’t scheduling sessions at the same time. So we use Cozi to keep our schedules organized. Cozi is an online calendar (with apps for Android and iPhone too!) that was made for families, but it works perfectly for our studio! With this calendar we can book session times in the studio without overlapping each other.
A year and a half later, and I still get tingles of excitement when I open the door to the studio! Sharing this space has worked out better than I ever could have imagined.
Thank you for taking the time to read through my journey, and please feel free to message me with any questions!