How To know you’re ready to open a Photo Studio!

Opening a photography studio may be somewhere in the distant future for many photographers. But it doesn’t mean it’s not on their minds.

I’ve been planning the opening of a small in house photography studio. Mind you; this isn’t for doing any major commercial projects. But more for testing and portraits.

It will also be good for shooting products, which I have great need of for my work on Luxury Standard Magazine. The space is fairly small around three hundred square foot space.

There’s just enough room for my large desk, lights, wardrobe rack, monitors and my Jura Capresso. This won’t be the first studio I’ve had, but it is the first in a long time.

Opening Your Photography StudioBut what do you do when you are ready to move a home-based photography business into a studio.

Before you take the leap into opening a studio (and raising your prices to possibly cover any additional costs you incur), you need to make sure you’ve thought through the decision.

I’ve seen many photographers prematurely open a photography studio and have the doors shut shortly after.

I didn’t move to my first studio (which had bars on the window and cost me $550 per month, in 1987) until I was already making enough revenue to pay myself a salary that had replaced my full time Television Cameraman salary.

That’s one of the first places where I see photographers making a mistake – taking on costs they don’t need to and thinking if they build it, clients will just automatically come.

It doesn’t work that way. Ever! Well at least hardly. In fact, when you take on a studio space you shouldn’t be taking a pay cut.

Before you take leap and open up a studio front, ask yourself these 5 questions.

1) What are your reasons for opening a studio?

Opening Your Photography StudioPut your thinking hat on and find out the reasons why you want to open a studio.
  • You hope it help you attract more clients (it may, but it’s not going to be dramatic enough in most cases to cover your new costs).
  • It will make your business appear legit to clients and other business owners (this is an added benefit but shouldn’t be the sole basis for which you make the decision).
  • You’ve outgrown your current space (a legitimate reason as well, but you need to look at how much additional cost you are taking on to have a new space).
  • It’s always been a dream of yours (not a good enough reason, but we’ll talk through the financial aspects in more details below).

2) Are you currently paying yourself a salary from your photography business?

Opening Your Photography StudioMake sure you are paying yourself a salary from your photography business. If not, then you need to wait to move into a studio until you are.

A studio isn’t a magic answer to bringing in more clients or allowing you to raise your prices.

In fact, it just compounds any pricing and marketing issues you already have.

3) Are your cost of sales currently at 25% or less?

lBx3FEVgITEQXkQMsM2UWNN-DyBTDJ6lcaPgezjkUP8Find out your cost of sales. This is the benchmark to follow to be profitable as a photographer.

If they aren’t then you need to get these in line before you consider opening a studio.

4) How many additional sessions do you need to do to cover your costs?

Opening Your Photography StudioGet to know how many extra sessions you need to do to cover the additional cost. In the case of my first studio, my rent was $300 per month.

I needed less than one extra session to cover the cost of rent and utilities.

I knew I could do that and I didn’t need to raise my prices to do it.

5) How much does your average sale need to increase to cover your studio space costs?

Opening Your Photography StudioPrepare a rough estimate on how much you need to raise the price to cover the overhead cost for new studio space.

If you didn’t get one more new client by having studio space, how much more would each of your existing clients need to invest to cover your new costs?

If you would need to raise your prices by more than 20% to cover the overhead, you’re right in thinking your clients aren’t going to be happy and that you’re going to lose them.

And that’s ok!

You do however, need an aggressive marketing plan to find the right new clients who are willing to pay your prices.

Opening Your Photography StudioThere are so many things to consider when opening a brick and mortar location. These are just a few to get you thinking on the right path to building a thriving, profitable photography studio.

Do you want to open your own retail location?

Why is it your dream? Let me know.

If you have any photography questions feel free to leave them below in a comment.

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