If you are an aspiring photographer, looking for an affordable, low-commitment space to set up your first photo studio, you might consider setting up a studio in a self-storage facility. A self-storage facility can give you plenty of room to store your photography equipment when you are not using it and set up a small portrait studio. Since a storage unit with lighting and an electrical supply is cheaper than renting a dedicated office or apartment for your studio, you can save money on rent and put that money towards accumulating quality equipment. However, there are some things you should consider before you set up shop in a storage facility.
Consider How Your Clients Will Feel About Your Location
Storage units are not designed to be a residential or office space, which can mean that they look less appealing than a traditional office space. However, renting an indoor unit in a clean, temperature-controlled facility can help your clients feel comfortable about going to your studio. You should also make sure the manager of the facility is okay with your intended use of your storage unit. If you have to sneak clients in and out of your studio, it can make them uncomfortable which can result in poor pictures and lost clients.
Avoid Small Storage Units
Although all of your photography equipment may fit into a small storage unit, it is important to assess the unit for height and length, to ensure that you will be able to set up a hair light above your models and that you have enough room to step back and zoom in on your subjects. The good thing about storage units is that it is usually easy to upgrade your unit to a larger one if you find that you need more space, so you may want to try a medium-sized unit and then go up to a large unit if it does not provide enough space.
Plan for Stands Instead of Wall and Ceiling Mounts
You will not be able to make permanent changes to your storage unit, so you should plan to utilize floor mounts and stands for your backdrops and lighting. Stands may take up a little more space than wall and ceiling mounts, but they allow your entire setup to be transported easily and protect the storage unit you are renting from damage. You should also figure out a creative way to display your photography that does not involve wall-mounting it. Bringing in a few shelves to display your work can eliminate this problem.
Invest Extra In Your Lighting Equipment
Most storage units do not have windows, and if your unit does have a window, it may not provide the best lighting for your photos. You should think about investing the money that you save by renting a storage unit instead of an office in extra lighting equipment including lights, stands, and gels.
Consider Setting Up a Darkroom In a Neighboring Unit
If you utilize traditional darkroom equipment, you may want to set up a dark room in the unit next to your studio. This keeps your two spaces separate and can look more professional than combining them. However, you will have to consider things such as blacking out light sources, supplying ventilation, and getting a water supply in your unit if you want to have a successful darkroom in a storage facility.
Renting a storage unit to use as your photo studio can be an ideal choice if you are just getting started or lack the funds for a traditional studio. However, it is important that you anticipate the above issues and plan your studio accordingly.