Rented a studio for a few hours on Sunday

November 25, 2009

Hey guys,

I know it’s been a while since I’ve updated my blog, I apologize. Had some personal issues to tend to. But I’m back!

On Sunday, I rented a local studio space. This space was started by a friend of mine, him and two other guys. The space they have has a TON of potential, but not quite there. This post will lay out my ideas of a functional studio. These guys are always after me asking me my opinions on how it goes and what is working and should work. Being that I have experience renting and working in studios across the US, I’m honored that they ask, yet, I’m not going to give my info away for free. I’ve offered them the option to have me in as a consultant.

The booking process was pretty painless. As I said before, I know two of the owners and they’re good guys. I had to book, then confirm the space. Done. In the booking process, they tell me that they have paper backdrops for use and it’s a “25.00 per tear” fee. Meaning, if I use the paper, it’s an additional 25.00. No thanks, to me, that’s a waste, I have plenty of my own backdrops that I could use. Hire me as a consult and I’ll teach you how to preserve that paper guy.

The rental: I have a few modifiers that I like to use, so I got there a bit early to set them up since they don’t allow an extra 5-10 minute setup time for people who aren’t using their assortment of lights. They have a mix of strobes, from Norman to Photogenic to Alienbee to White Lightning. While there is nothing wrong with mixing and matching the heads, I didn’t see anything such as pocket wizards or sync cords to trigger their heads, that and nothing on the heads that identify the type of head (hot light? watt?) they have. As I get there, I’m greeted by the other owner I know, he’s a good guy. I walk into the studio and see that they have two separate paper setups. I walked in when my studio time started, which was 3pm. A walk through should be done on THEIR time, not mine. I proceed to help the owner take down the paper backdrops because these guys are new and want money to keep their studio going, so I could see them saying I used the paper. At 3:10, we were done with the paper rolling and everything was fine. The owner leaves around 3:15. Luckly for me, I told my first client to show up at 3:20.

The shoots go fine and we’re in the wrap up part of the second shoot when at 550, the owner shows up. Not sure his intent, but not exactly sure why he would show up on my time? see my client? hang out with me? I walk my client out to her car and come back inside. At that point in time, we start to give each other a hard time. Now I had my personal issue going on at home, so I was ready to get back to where I needed to be, but didn’t want to be an ass and leave the guy there. So as we’re talking, I walk through to make sure I’ve picked everything up that is mine and that everything is clean. On my way out, I grab my stuff and he says something that takes me off my guard, he says: “Everything looks good, BUT, you are over your time by 15 minutes. You paid for three hours, not three hours and fifteen minutes” I wasn’t sure if he was joking or serious, but it bothered me. So I told him “Well you’re partner and I had to clean the place up, take stuff down that shouldn’t have been there, so from quarter after to quarter after is three” He says “You paid for 3-6pm” Are you serious? You left the studio space in not ready condition and I’m supposed to use MY time making sure you did what you were supposed to?

We give each other a hard time about it, I was very tired, so I was a bit on the defensive side.

Then he proceeds to ask me again my thoughts on the studio and how I felt they were going with the direction of it. So this time I decide to give him a few of my feelings on it, since he asked and I was over tired lol. I tell him that the way his space was setup, I wouldn’t feel too comfortable bringing in a client and wanting them to pay 2500.00 for photos. He gets physically angry and says “How big was your old space?” I said “600 square feet combined” he says “You mean to tell me that you don’t think someone would spend 2500.00 HERE, but they would over THERE?” That kinda pissed me off! So I had to break it down to him: “It’s all about apperances guy, you have ALL your props right to the left taking up VALUABLE shooting space. You have about 20 softboxes thrown all on the floor at the back of the studio. You have props running along side both walls. Very little space to shoot in. Just because your space is big, doesn’t make it better” What I wanted to tell him was “My old studio, yes, was 600sq feet, but it had a sitting area, a 32inch hdtv, direct tv. Pleasant colors, comfortable and cozy sitting area and my camera room was NICE. It had my modifiers on the wall and was presentable.” But I didn’t.

My post is to everyone, photographers, studio owners: Just because you have space, doesn’t make it better or worse than some other place. These guys have 1500sq ft and because they do, they think it’s better than my old space. You can have all the room in the world, but if you don’t make it appropriate for your clients, you have big space that’s good to shoot in, but offer very little with regards to professional presentation.

My space will be vacated and available to me soooon! PLEASE HURRY lol.

Happy holidays!



Comments (4)


January 1, 2010 by Jay

Hey all,

I just wanted to take a few minutes and update everyone to this situation.

As I stated before, I’ve not had a problem with Russ, or how he and his partners run things. The way they do it, isn’t how I’d do it, but I’m fortunate enough to have shot in studios across the country, so my vision is a bit different.

After making this thread and having Russ reply, it was clear to me that our relationships was a bit….strained. I didn’t have a problem with him, I think he’s a great guy, I just wanted to voice my opinion on how things are going with renting his place. A week or so after that, I had a client want to get some photos for her hubby. I didn’t want to travel all the way up north on the day before Christmas Eve, so I had her book Russ’ studio. I thought it would be difficult to deal since some people don’t like to be told their wrong. My post was never meant to be malicious, but more informational as that is the purpose of this blog. The client called me back and said I had to give Russ a call. I figured “He’s going to come up with a reason why I couldn’t shoot there.” So I called him.

The convo was a tad bit tense, but ok. We weren’t our old selves, but we were talking. My client ended up getting to book the space and all was well. I showed up to the studio and it was good to go!

I showed up and there was nothing that needed to be broken down, nothing that had to be moved around. My client had told him the theme we were going for and he had a few well chosen backdrops hung and ready to go. I had the space exactly the way I wanted it! The check in and out process was fine and my time there was great. THIS is the way it should be gentlemen!

Everything went smooth and it’s apparent to me they took some of my advice and made changes to how they run things. So much so, that I’m going to have a future workshop t here!


December 15, 2009 by Jay

Hey Russ,

Welcome to my blog!

I did remove some spammy comments I felt were put out of spite. If you want to advertise your studio on my site, please feel free to contact me.

I don’t have a lot of interest in the subject, but I do think that I should take a few minutes, acknowledge and reply in kind, to some of your comments.

I’ve shot in professional studios from Minneapolis to Chicago to New York to Florida to Canada and I’ve never encountered a cut charge. I consult studios much like your own as my day job and this issue has never come up. When I was looking into space for my Dec workshop, the studios I did speak to, all made a point to let me know that they are not “profit driven like the other place you might have called” How does that make you feel? your fellow comrades have liken you guys to being money hungry. You’re right, you can’t be everything to everyone, but you can at least have the respect of some of your peers. Their feelings aside, lets move on.

I was filling out paper work because it did in fact take 17 minutes for your partner to tear down. How is it fair that when you rent the studio to me, you hang out on MY DIME for 15 minutes, but expect me out on time? that’s not the FULL time that I’m paying for, correct? You and I spoke and when you told me there was a 25.00 cut charge (which why would I pay that, when I can put another 15.00 and get a 9footer of my own right across the street?) and I said I wasn’t going to use it. Why wasn’t that put up and the studio ready for me to use? You know how I operate, you know that there isn’t anything I need or any kind of instruction I need from you guys, why wouldn’t it be 100% ready to go? Also, you say I wasn’t ready to go, all I had to do was grab three lights on stands and my camera bag. I was under no obligation to help you tear down, period. But I did, cause I’m such a swell guy.

Russ, if you think I would be upset about 15 minutes when someone was wrapping up, I think it’s safe to say you don’t know me. Hell, my daughter was born 12 hours BEFORE you and I hung out for an HOUR talking. If I can leave my new born baby to answer questions for you, I’m pretty sure someone using 15 minutes to wrap up wouldn’t be an issue.

Russ, in the paragraph above%


December 14, 2009 by Russ

My name is Russ and I am a co-owner of the studio in Greenwood Village. I thought I might be entitled to respond to Jay’s blog comments. We opened in September and are working with photographers to get their input of what is important to them. We can’t be everything to everyone but input is very important to us.

The cut charge for paper is not uncommon. We could include it but we would need to raise our $25 an hour rate. Not everyone wants paper so why charge those not using it. As for taking time for setup we make it very clear that the photographers setup and teardown is on clock and that applies to everyone. If someone is using the studio lights I make sure there is ample time to run them through our lights, stands, booms, etc. I always offer to stay 15 minutes to see if there are any questions or offer lighting techniques. If the photographer is bringing their own light, which was the case this time, there is no need for the ‘lighting 101’ class. If there is no need for seamless paper then we roll it up to get it out of the way not because I am afraid someone will sneak a shot on it. While we take care of the paper the shooter can be setting up and hanging fabric.

I checked Jay out at the end of his rental time. In fact, I got there a few minutes early and sat in my car until the time was spot on. He was in our lobby/meet&greet area doing paperwork with the model(s) and had barely started to do takedown. Jay, you would have been pissed big time if you had gotten to the studio and the previous renter delayed your shoot. I helped take down 75% of the equipment. That isn’t our job to do. My remark to Jay about the extra 17 minutes was half serious and half in jest. I wasn’t going to charge him but needed to express that the clock is what it is and this is a business. I can’t give special pricing or deals to everyone I know.

We did sit around and shoot the bull afterwards. I have known Jay for a couple years and didn’t realize he expected a consultation payment for casual conversation about the studio. I am not sure where the “physically angry” part came in. He did tell me that we were representing the studio in a deceitful fashion. We say we have 1,500sf with a 500sf lobby/meet&greet area and 1000sf in the back shooting area. His objection was since we have posing aides and furniture in one corner that is availble to every renter that that space shouldn’t be counted as studio space. I’m sorry if that is construed as misleading. The lobby area has a nice changing room and rest room in it so no one has to change behind a scrim panel or go outside and down the building to use the lav. There is a professional makeup station there. We have a nice sectional sofa and chaise lounge, coffee and end tables, lamps, mini-fridge with free beverages. There also is an area with a small conference table and chairs for paperwork to be done. No, we don’t have a flat screen TV but our WiFi is private, free, and works. I might note that we also have three duplex outlets in the lobby, and the back, that are dedicated 20amp circuits just for safe lighting when it doubles as a secondary shoot set.

There are egos and pride working here. I also admit this may be thought of as a shameless plug for my Studio. You are absolutley correct but more so I think I am entitled to post my comments. I offer everyone to visit our studio. I will meet anyone at anytime – then you can form an unbiased opinion of the facility and how it operates.


November 26, 2009 by Scott

Jay, first of all, congrats on the new little one, all the best.

Second, great post! I do not have a studio, but have rented a few, and it is not all about size! The organized setup can mean so much and help you to give your clients a much better option.

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