It’s three years now since I set up the Dundee photography studio.
That journey has taught me some valuable – and sometimes painful – life lessons. But it’s turned out so well and I’m really thrilled with what we’ve built here.
It’s actually nearly four years since I decided to take the jump from working from home and take the business to the next level.
I was in a comfortable place as a photographer working from home, with no outgoings. But it was beginning to bug me, all the meetings in cafes, not being able to invite clients to view their wedding albums and being so limited with space.
I felt it just didn’t look professional, and I wanted to have a base. Somewhere to have big lights, better equipment and backdrops.
That was the whole idea behind opening a studio.
I knew the risks. I’ve worked in senior positions in the corporate world, and been self-employed before. I know fine well that you can be the best photographer in the world but if you can’t run a business, then you’re going to fail.
No pressure, then! To start with, I knew I had to do my research. You definitely have to know in advance what the costs of running a studio are going to be.
I wanted to create a warm and friendly environment, somewhere my clients felt comfortable, without it costing a fortune to run in the long term.
I also knew I specifically wanted a unit, I didn’t want a showfront place. So there was definitely an initial investment to be made to ensure running costs weren’t going to be stupid.
Thinking there might be someone with a studio they were giving up, I put the word out on my social networks.
I’m a strong believer in networking and in helping people when they need a connection. So when I’m looking for a little bit of knowledge and information, the amount of people that come out of the wood work is fantastic.
It turned out that a guy I’d worked with before on a little project, his dad had this studio and it was just perfect.
So it was time to put the plan into action, to get it all looking amazing from the inside out.
It was a long seven months, as the studio slowly came together. I’d love to say it was a character-building process but it just took forever, absolutely forever.
We found out that all the bathroom plumbing was upside down. And there was no insulation. And then the electrics were all wired wrong. We discovered this when the builder put his saw on and the lights went out. That was when we realised the 35amp socket circuit was attached to the 5amp lighting circuit.
About four months in was a really horrible time. As time was going on, the money was going down and it felt like there was nothing to show for it. I knew it was costing tens of thousands of pounds and nothing was coming back in.
Fortunately my partner Elaine’s dad Jim stepped in and pulled a lot of the strings to get it moving.
And when the doors opened for the first time, sure it was scary, but it was so exciting.
It all came to life, with the bespoke system fitted that gives me five backdrops. We had a custom-built table, because I wanted to use it not only as a studio but as a place to train other photographers. That was one of the parts of the original vision.
I’d invested in the foundations as far as the building was concerned, so now it was time to invest in my own skills.
To make the most of this fantastic new studio, I invested in one-to-one training with some fantastic photographers. I’ll talk more about that in another blog but what I will say is that’s an investment you’ll never regret.
There are things you’ll learn off those people that you’ll never be able to think up yourself or you’ll never learn off YouTube in a million years.
So, the life lessons involved? Do your research, have a plan and invest in pretty solid foundations.
And that’s how this Dundee photographer came to be blowing out the three candles later this month (November).
Got any questions about our lovely Dundee photography studio? Get in touch now