by Dave Newman Published 01/03/2001
Having presented programs and seminars around the world (from Korea to Australia), I find an obvious common-thread issue among fellow photographers worldwide: the commonality here is a simple and bold lack of space. At seminars, I often ask, (in preparation for my Camera Room lecture topic), a group question..."who has too much space?" The answer is obvious. We need loads of space for our creative efforts, space for prop storage, enough space to facilitate those high profit larger family groups and subjects such as brides with their elegant and often voluminous gowns. Thus, the question of space arises. Do we send these clients away, seek an outdoor location (in the wind and rain), or tell them to find a location on their own and we will be happy to assist with a portrait session? Since this dilemma is not an uncommon one, I have arrived at a rather suitable solution, when space is an issue. Allow me, now, to offer a timely suggestion, which should ring home with many photographers striving to increase both the size and success of their present operation.
The key is finding the right second location which can add the necessary space without breaking the bank, at the same time. This is the great and noble challenge we face.
Our problem lies only within us Keeping one's eyes open and being on the alert, often there is available space at a very reasonable price...right before our eyes. The "very reasonable" price concept is of prime importance to most of us.
Search any town or neighborhood and you will find abandoned second story storage areas and off-street barn-size buildings and/or large rooms that are available at very reasonable prices. Our problem lays only with us as we seek attached or adjacent space locations closely relating to our main street business location. I must ask the question, is our convenience all that is important? Must the new location be attached or adjacent to our existing location?
I personally found a very unique space within the rear area of a large reception hall located about one mile from my present camera room. This area was discovered whilst seeking the restroom during a hectic wedding I was covering. The area I fell upon needed a good cleaning and a major overhaul: I rolled up my sleeves and went to work on this new space. I became delighted and rewarded as this room served our studio for next ten years as a super large camera room for bridal portraiture and oversized groups as well as larger families.
This space became so attractive as to provide a second home for not merely the occasional session, but ALL my portraiture. Now, I could get busy and promote the high profit family portraiture without having to leave the comfortable and reliable camera room I trusted. Outstanding, also, was the fact that this new low-cost location provided a pleasant distance from the buzz and turmoil of my home base studio business office, thus, I feel, adding ten years to my stress filled life. Heating and lighting and well as restroom facilities offered no obstacle since these were all in place and became a portion of my rental agreement. I had now doubled the physical size of my operation with minimal additional outlay. My new landlord was also delighted with the compatibility of my wedding and family business with his wedding and social hall.
Since this serendipitous occasion of years ago, I have changed my thinking to desiring more space which I could own and not rent (lease)....so, again, I became Sherlock Holmes in seeking low cost off-main street accommodations. It seemed that the field was ripe, ready for the harvest, as I located not one but several suitable, available buildings within one mile of my main studio location.
The secret, which I had, discovered, was in seeking the off-street or less desirable locations.
These locations would appear less marketable to most businesses for high traffic demands. Such locations are rarely rented, leased or sold at a premium price: hence, we profit by this lack of normal attractiveness. We acquire low-priced, yet, very suitable space.
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