You don’t need a photography studio to be successful photographer.
I’m going to say it again: YOU DON’T NEED A PHOTOGRAPHY STUDIO TO BE SUCCESSFUL PHOTOGRAPHER!
It’s so crazy, friends. WHY do we think that a studio = a successful photographer? It doesn’t. Take it from me… I’ve literally run my business at every stage of studio presence and been just as successful at each stage.
Here’s each phase of business I’ve had over the last decade and how my studio space effected my bottom line:
2010 – 2012: no studio or sales space at all. I ran all ordering sessions in my clients’ homes and was bringing home an average of $4,000 per client. This also meant I had zero space / studio overhead, so I was keeping most of the income I made minus gas for an hour commute and back to my main target area plus product cost.
2012 – 2013: I rented a tiny 300 square foot space for sales sessions only. My average stayed at $4,000 per client at this time but I was saving a ton of travel time and stopped meeting on weekends. This space cost me $300 a month, so my expenses were still super low considering I was photographing 4-5 clients a month = an average $16K – $20K per month.
2013 – 2017: I invested in a 1,520 square foot studio space with an ordering session room, fashion closet, and waiting area for $1,555 per month. This was a BIG step for me and I even dumped $20,000+ to renovate the space before moving in. After I moved in and began offering the new experience, I began averaging between $4,500 – $5,000 per client.
2017 – 2022: This time, I invested in a 2,000 square foot space at $2,650 per month. I also dumped $30,000+ into a complete renovation as it was incredibly outdated when I moved in. My average sale topped out at $5,000 per client before Covid hit, and then once I moved to all inclusive session options in 2020, it is now sitting at an average of $3,000 per client – but with less time spent per client, I am making just as much, if not more per hour, than I was with a higher average.
So now what am I doing?
I’m going back to basics. I have completely moved out of that big beautiful studio and am keeping it simple in this new economy and generation of clients coming in. I’ve noticed a shift in this new generation and am paying attention to their spending habits while making decisions that are right for me and my family that align with our new chapter of life, new values, and new found priorities.
I have felt a pull for over a year now to simplify. Not just our lives at home, but my job as well. For the past 12 years I have worked so incredibly hard to create an amazing experience for my clients and somewhat of an empire in the industry. I swear, it feels like I have worked a 40 year career in these past 12 years.
And I feel the need to simplify. To go back to basics.
Which is why I made the decision to leave my physical studio in June. It was such an emotional decision for me. After all, I had wrapped up my identity in the luxe brand I created. For a time, I wasn’t sure who I was without a camera, a calendar booked full of amazing clients, or weekends filled teaching workshops or speaking at conferences. But the truth is I forgot that I started my photography career without a studio… without a fashion closet… without a physical storefront. I didn’t need any of that to show my clients how amazing they were through my lens. And I don’t need it now.
The AHP experience will still be unmatched and
Everything a senior dreams of for their senior session, it just won’t be attached to a big fancy studio anymore. We’ll still have makeup and hair styling as well as on location styling. Additionally, I will still have a client lounge with a selection of accessories, jewelry, and fashion staples as well as beautiful products like always. It’s just… simplified.
This decision to simplify is also grounded in being more present with my family. I am stepping into a new roll at home this year by homeschooling several subjects with Web instead of having a full time homeschool teacher every day. I’ll be honest – I’m both terrified, but excited as I know that this too, is God’s plan for us and I am leaning into it. God’s plan has always been better than any I could ever imagine. I can’t wait to see how He uses this time in our lives for His glory.
And guess what?
The AHP experience will still be different from local competitors. I will still be producing the standard of images I always have and still be bringing in a great income from clients. Just from a different location & in a different way.
All of this means that YOU TOO, don’t have to have a perfect studio to make real income in this industry. Or you can if you want to! Either way, I hope that by sharing my photography studio journey , it helps you in your business endeavors. That is what is so beautiful about the incredible opportunity of running your own business – you can be successful at any phase!