Signs to Look for in a Photography Studio

By: Abby DivDate: Aug. 8, 2019

Finding a space to shoot can be as difficult as coordinating all of the other elements to make a shoot happen. Aside from model, hair stylist, makeup artists and set assistants schedules there's coordinating a space that is not only available but also meets shoot requirements. There's a few signs to look out in order to avoid a big headache when it comes to the day of the shoot.


Possibly the most important factor to any rental is the cost. 'Studio' can be a broad term and include spaces intended for multi-day, multi-set productions with a staff of directors, assistants, MUAs, and models or more minimalist endeavors of headshots and one-on-one shoots. Cost and production level are generally correlated and if it looks out of price range that may be the reason.


Similar to cost, the size of a studio is related to the type of usage. If you're shooting automobiles or large set designs a 24 x 30 cyclorama with green screen is ideal, but not for a bodyscape. And if you're shooting environmental portraits with custom canvases, an artist's studio is a good fit but not for an action shoot with dancers leaping and dancing.


You’ll need them. Even a natural light studio with the optimal window orientation and elevation above or apart from other buildings or structures that may impede sunlight requires supplemental lighting. It’s not staging the scene or abandoning the natural light style of 'natural light' shooters. It’s enhancing the light that is already available while filling the light that directionally is not there.

Some studios will provide lighting as part of the rental, reducing the equipment needed to carry into the facility. Others have them as add-ons available for rent as individual units. Still others will not rent them at all and you’ll have to BYOL (bring your own lights). Check with the studio owner or manager for their options.


Many, many studios are located in converted warehouses, art spaces, or pre-war structures. This means that they likely do not have an elevator or freight elevator to haul the truckload of equipment and stands we all have a tendency of overpacking. Do your research before packing to determine 1. the floor of the space 2. the equipment already in the space and 3. the number of steps you’ll be climbing with it.


This is where any non-obvious or hidden fees can start adding up. Shooting in a standard studio there are a few basic pieces of equipment you'll need to have at your disposal: lights, backdrops, and camera. The lights may not come with the studio rental nor the backdrop. I've seen charge by the pull (ie how much you can pull down of the backdrop in one arm length). Lights can be charged as an unit or by the individual.

Cleaning fees may be the highest expense though. There may be a flat fee with every rental which includes equipment breakdown and facility maintenance for that shoot you just embedded glitter into the cracks of the hardwood floor or flour that has left a white film on the concrete. There alternatively could be a fee for leaving the space in a lesser state than you entered.


This may seem obvious for most modern spaces with modern amenities. For studios in modern or modernized facilities this is not a question. For those, though, in converted or unfinished space there may not be centralized systems for heating and cooling. This becomes a more than pressing concern when you're in New Hampshire in the middle of the winter down to your birthday suit without heat or drenched in sweat in St. Louis without air conditioning in the heat of summer.