As you build your very specific space, the sky is the limit in terms of what it can contain. Here are just some of the many provisions you may want to consider.
A Studio Sign
Being able to hang a shingle has been a source of pride for business owners, shopkeepers, and tradespeople for thousands of years. Having a clear sign that shows off your business enables you to better position your studio, drive more traffic to your location, and more quickly become a well-known brand to those who see it. Of course, you’ll have to check on any zoning ordinances that may not allow for to post a sign, but if you are in a retail or commercially zoned space, be sure to take advantage of this marketing goodness.
When listing all the gear that goes into the camera bag, I didn’t mention all the backup gear that lives in the studio. Strongly consider a little home for any extras you may need, not just backup cameras, lenses, and flashes, but also backup batteries, battery chargers, lighting gear, additional bulbs, lens caps, and so on. I’ve learned that everything tends to fail at some point. Like the best of people, even the highest-quality products can have issues at some point—and they do (the gear and the people). Get into the practice of stocking up on some backup supplies, and you’ll be glad you did.
Back Up the Backup
It may sound redundant, but backing up the backup is precisely the point. Ensure that you have a great system in place for backing up your images. Your backup system should consist of multiple levels of storing your photographs, including DVDs, external hard drives, and cloud-based storage options. These are just some of the many ways you can secure your work, making sure it is safe and sound.
Even if you do not choose to shoot with a tripod regularly, it can be critical to have one available to you when you need it. Even if you tend to rarely use one, you will be glad you have access to one the next time you are commissioned to photograph an extremely large family that prefers the photograph be taken indoors, for instance. This, of course, is extremely common when it comes to photographing family portraits at weddings. In that case, you will absolutely need to minimize any chance of camera shake.
Or you might want to try some creative shooting with light painting, for instance, when you use an extremely long shutter and light your subject in patterns to capture a different, unique, or interesting look.
Or you may want to take some steps toward offering video services to your clients, either as a separate service or as part of a fusion of still photographs and video clips. When shooting video, it can be significantly easier to mount your camera on a tripod. There are all kinds of reasons you might want to have quick access to a tripod, even if you don’t use one regularly.
In this only-becoming-more digital age, we tend to rely on technology to store, transfer, and showcase much if not all of our information. This is a wonderful thing when it comes to backing up our work, sharing our images, and creating galleries on websites. But when prospective clients walk through your door and ask about your services, it is remarkably refreshing to be able to hand them some sort of clear overview of what your studio is all about, what your pricing is like, what others are saying about working with you, and what type of work they can expect to receive when they book with you. Whether this is a detailed brochure, a cleanly formatted promotional card, or a tablet-driven presentation that you print out and give to them when you are finished is up to you and how you choose to present yourself. If you can also show them work that you’ve already displayed on your walls, albums to flip through, and a brief overview of your studio and how you like to shoot, you are much more likely to book them for a shoot than if you had told them to please just go to your website.
You will want a clean and ample space to work with your physical prints. Whether you are just unpacking prints from a lab or laying them out for packaging purposes, it’s advantageous to have a designated workspace. You should also decide if you will offer framing services, and if so, if you will do them in-house or outsource your framing. There’s a whole separate set of products and tools you will need at your disposal if you decide to offer framing as a studio-based service.
Samples, Samples, Samples
The old adage “show it to sell it” does apply—to buy it, they need to see it first. The more you show your clients the physical products they have the opportunity to purchase from a shoot, the more likely they are to buy. This includes whatever you want to sell: canvas pieces, art boards, framed prints, collages, cards, albums. It bears repeating: Show them so you can sell them.
Props can come in handy as well. I don’t actually shoot with a lot of props, but it may prove beneficial to at least have a few simple posing stools, chairs, background options, and toys to distract (or actually pose with) on hand. The sky is the limit here. I’ve seen studios stocked with whole rooms of props that include everything from clothing and hats to toys, stuffed animals, blankets, masks, branded little sets of products they’ve created, and so much more.
Any working office needs some basic supplies in place for communicating with clients. Even if you strive to go paperless—an excellent green option that helps protect against clutter as well—you may still need a scanner, printer, and copier (hopefully all in one), and the rest of the core needs to simply be able to do business. The more every office supply has its place, the less likely it is to be overlooked when your stock is low.