Portrait photography is a popular luxury because it allows families, pet owners, parents, and individuals to capture the best of themselves and those they love without having to break the bank.
However, not too long ago, only wealthy families could afford portraits. This expensive luxury relied on the skills of gifted portrait artists. They were exhausting and time-consuming sessions. The models needed to keep a pose and remain relatively still for long hours while wearing heavy and uncomfortable clothing.
When photography technology became good enough to capture clear images of people, photographers could paint portraits using photographs as a reference rather than live models. This allowed painters to paint slower, take more breaks, and paint over extended periods of time, including years.
One painter, Antonio Lopez, took 20 years to paint La Familia de Juan Carlos I. He took his time because he didn't want to rush his work, but even with 20 years to complete the portrait, the work resembles nothing more than a photograph to many artists.
Photography is now so advanced that painters find it challenging to compete against photographers in artistry, cost, and demand.
Worse is that Lopez's "artwork has become the butt of many jokes, which poke fun at the fact that the painter took 20 years to achieve what a camera could do in a nanosecond".
So, what is it that photographs can do that portraits cannot? Why do families prefer photographs over painted portraits?
Studios At the Center of Portrait Photography
Undoubtedly, portraits began with the rich and powerful and now take place in the studios and home studios of photographers.
Because of studios, photographers now have more control of their photography than ever before. By using advanced photo editing software, digital backdrops, AI assistance, high-definition images, and state-of-the-art lighting, photographers can accomplish amazing feats of art.
Studios, in other words, are used to achieve perfect conditions.
The reason people prefer photographs is that they capture the real world quickly while giving options to alter and adjust images to one's liking. Never before have there been so many options and tools to improve and capture a person's "best".
Studios Have Their Fare Share of Problems
However, many photographers still prefer the natural lighting and scenery of the outdoors over that of artificial backgrounds and lighting. Many do not consider studios a necessity for capturing great photography. Studios are expensive, time-consuming places to maintain.
There are benefits and challenges to consider when choosing between owning a studio or working outdoors or renting studio space.
Simply put, there is no right or wrong way to run a portrait photography business as long as you keep making sales, gaining new clients, and keep enjoying being a photographer.
However, regardless of this potential debate, studios are still at the heart of portrait photography, and their potential pros and cons are essential to understand and learn. So now let's look at why you shouldn't own a studio.
There's Liability for Studio Owners
Liability is a familiar topic in the world of photography. Photographers frequently work with contracts to protect themselves from potential lawsuits.
With photography studios, as stated by Walid Azami, a successful photographer based in California, there are risks and hazards inside the studio that you're responsible for as an owner.
Lighting equipment, backdrops, and props could fall and injure your clients during a shoot. You could face legal problems that might leave you in debt or sink your business. As a photographer, there's enough liability without the studio, and adding risk isn't worth the extra income for some.
In the words of Azami, "You're responsible for everything. Every person that walks into your studio could (and I hope not) be their lawsuit. You'll need to get insured with a great agent and be an LLC for the most protection. That's not legal advice. Please speak with your lawyer about your exact business."
He is sure to emphasize the importance of seeking and using professional advice from a lawyer. Also, refrain from relying on rumors and suggestions because laws differ depending on the state, county, and city your studio sits in.
This means making more expenses and planning well before inviting clients to your studio so you can begin profiting from their business without worry.
You Have to Increase Prices to Pay for Your Studio
Owning a studio increases your expenses. There's no other way to keep profiting without charging more for your services. This is one reason why many photographers don't want to own or work in a studio.
Many photographers would worry about losing clients if they had to increase prices by 20%. However, this is a step in the right direction as a studio owner because studios change the services you can offer.
Once you purchase or lease a studio, you're stepping into a world of portrait photography that offers more luxuries and services for your clients. Your prices will have to reflect that transition.
This isn't to say that all studios should offer luxury experiences, but to make a profit; you need to calculate how much more to charge for this space.
You'll Work More Than Before
One of the best things about a studio is that you'll have your private space for creative projects. This can change how you run your business for the better, but you'll have to work hard to keep it running.
Azami shared his tough experience when he owned an ample-sized studio space. He soon realized there is much more to maintaining a photography studio than ensuring the WIFI and electricity bills get paid.
He needed to keep the place clean, organized, and presentable at all times, even with many strangers coming to his studio every day. So, before he opened his doors, he spent lots of time and money remodeling the interior.
Working alone, he painted the walls, renovated the flooring, and fixed major issues, spending countless hours in the process.
Why did he put so much effort into renovating and maintaining his studio? First impressions are critical; you need to avoid presenting dusty floors, dirty bathrooms, broken light fixtures, or scattered items around the studio. Such as in any other business, clients will judge the photographer from the state of their studio.
Why? This comes down to perception, and maintaining high levels of cleanliness gives the impression of being passionate about your studio and photography.
Owning a studio changes your business, and you could even rent your studio to other photographers. Moreover, if you run a photography studio full-time, you'll have less time for photo sessions. You'll be working hard to keep your image presentable.
Reasons Why You Should Own a Studio
Not having time for photography can be a reason to avoid buying a studio space along with the other factors we've covered. However, there are still many benefits to owning and operating a studio. Now let's look at why you should own a studio.
Helps With Organic Marketing
Marketing utilizes different avenues to attract leads, and having a studio is an excellent way of standing out from the rest.
Depending on where you set up your studio, you could place yourself in the heart of a busy city or area with lots of foot traffic and visitors. Passersby and potential clients will look at your business and see you're a serious photographer, one with a studio.
Communities and people notice changes in their towns and city blocks. You stand out as a photographer when there is a location to associate you with. Azami and other photographers attest to the power of owning a place.
This is why you could be doing yourself a huge favor by purchasing a place with high visibility. The key is to be noticed by the community around you to propel your business forward.
Studios Let You Display Photo Products
Along with having a place that stands out among the community, the interior of your studio can be one of the most impactful places for new clients to see.
Studios give you a place to display your best photographs, which you can use to attract more clients.
Read this blog to learn which products we recommend for your studio:
Studios Let You Stand Out From Other Photographers
Not every photographer owns a studio, which can be to your advantage. Certain types of photography need a place indoors, such as newborn and portrait photography during the colder months. You can argue that a home studio would be a good option, but this isn't always the right choice.
Men, for example, are less likely to invite mothers to their home studio for a newborn photo shoot. The client might feel uncomfortable. You need to have a safe place, and having a studio lets you invite clients to a professional, comfortable location for photo sessions.
Studios let you stand out by making you more versatile and able to accommodate your clientele's needs. Customer experience is one of the most critical points for any client.
Studios let you create that priceless and unique customer experience that will make your photography session one to remember and talk about. This takes work and planning, but owning a studio is the first step in being able to provide more unforgettable experiences as a photographer.
The Final Verdict
Studios are an investment for photographers that could increase earnings, but you will also be dealing with more tasks, responsibilities, and problems having to do with maintaining the studio.
A good studio is indispensable depending on what you want your photography business to be or become. These were just a few big reasons to consider before making a choice to purchase and invest in a studio space.