A studio shoot is what separates a professional from an amateur. A studio is essential for creating proper lighting and getting rid of the random things that distract from the model. However, creating a photoshoot on a budget in New York can stop some creatives from booking a studio.
If you are smart, though, there are many ways to save money on a professional shoot. So get out of your grandma’s garage and take professional photos with these 5 simple steps:
Find the Right Models
First, you need a subject to take a photo of, somebody who will step in front of your lens and give you all those awesome poses you’ve dreamed a capturing. The right model is another difference between professional pictures that stand out versus awkward amateur photos. Finding a model on a budget does not need to be a headache, though.
Obviously, the cheapest route is to use friends that you can pay with pizza. But what if that isn’t an option? Create a casting on modelmayhem.com to find the right people. If you know how to use it, Model Mayhem can be valuable to find quality models for reasonable rates.
On Model Mayhem, you can create a detailed casting call with your mood board, concept, look desired, location, and compensation (either paid or trade). From there, you just wait for the right model to apply! You can also create an availability notice for collaborations. The people responding to those offers might be creatives with less experience, but you might also find gems willing to donate their time to create some amazing shots with you. It is definitely worth exploring.
If you are established in your photography style, you can also contact a modeling agency and ask for models to test with you for free. If the agent thinks that your pictures can help develop the model’s portfolio, they will negotiate with you. If you hire an established model, though, be aware that their agency will take a percentage of their rates, making them less affordable.
This is where a studio is extremely helpful. Not surprisingly, models are less than enthusiastic to go to your garage and an unknown apartment for a photoshoot. You will boost your chances to finding models suited for your project if you can make them feel comfortable and excited to be working with you, and that’s where a professional photo studio might make things easier.
For starters, a professional studio is clean, spacious and there are private changing spaces. There is also clear lighting and mirrors to do makeup, and clothing racks to hang the styling and avoid wrinkles. All of these components make the model’s job easier, and ultimately, ensures.
Find a Professional Studio
A studio in New York can be a real budget-buster. Most large studios require a half- or full- day minimum to rent it out. This can end up costing anywhere from $500- 2000 for one photoshoot.
“What the hell?!” you may be thinking, and we absolutely agree! There are ways to get around spending so much for renting the perfect space for your project, though.
First, look for a studio that does an hourly rental instead of a daily one. You probably do not need a half or full day for your shoot, so don’t pay for it.
Second, don’t pay for more space than you need. A 1000- square foot space is more than enough room for a small- to medium size shoot. If you book a studio that is larger than that, you are wasting your money on space you will not use.
Third, check to see what is included in the space rental. Most are bare and simple looking, but some studio spaces have interesting interiors which make for unique shots without needing the help of a set designer! Ask the studio if they have props available for free or a small rental fee.
By making sure that you only spend money on the time and space that you need, with rates as low as $35-$50 per hour in some hourly studios available in NY, renting a shooting space could only cost you under $100 for a two-hour project. No need to get a second mortgage when affordable hourly is becoming available in New-York!
Find the Right Lighting Equipment
We’re assuming here that you have your own camera that works well for you and your purposes. However, lights are still essential equipment for your shoot. Not only will you need lights, but there are also modifiers and stands to put the lights on and a system to synchronize everything together.
Most studios do not include this equipment. If you ask, they will refer you to a third-party to rent out the equipment. They are hardly unbiased, though, and couldn’t care less about your budget.
To save money on lighting, you can go one of two routes: first, you could rent online. Websites such as lensrentals.com or kitsplit.com are affordable options. They save you money and can ship what you need directly to the studio. However, keep in mind that you will likely need to purchase insurance separately to cover the rentals as well.
The best option, though, is to find a studio that already provides rental lights, or better yet, includes lighting equipment in the hourly rate! This may sound too good to be true, but we swear, those wonderful places do exist! They will save you the hassle of hauling boxes or bags to the studio, or the headache of coordinating the rental of your equipment and the studio. Be sure to ask whether equipment is included when booking a studio.
Put it All Together
Once you have found the right model, it is time to lock down a date. Work out first what time is best for the both of you.
Find and book the studio that meets your needs and you and your teams’ availabilities. Remember, booking hourly and about 1000- square feet is the most affordable and sensible option. Do not pay for what you don’t need!
Either make sure that the studio has the lighting equipment you need, or rent out the equipment based on the studio. Make sure that the equipment is set to arrive before the shoot. It will take time to set it up and you do not want to pay for studio time you cannot use.
Coordination and forethought is key to creating a photoshoot on a budget!
Get a Helping Hand on the Big Day
With a rented studio space, time IS money. Whatever you can do to make the photo shoot go smoothly saves you money. The more time you spend fumbling around with set up, working on lighting, or fixing the model’s hair is money wasted.
Having someone on hand to help set up, tear down, check equipment, make sure the model looks their best, and has everything on hand for you will save you valuable time and free you up to concentrate on capturing the best photos.
Again, here you have options: asking a friend, hiring someone (putting a notice on a photography group/ school board is a great way to find a student to help), or finding a studio that has staff that can help. By hiring an assistant, you can have someone that makes everything run efficiently that not only saves money but makes the entire process enjoyable.
Some studios, though, have staff on hand that are trained to help. Knowledgeable employees can set up and change backdrops swiftly (which takes precious minutes out of your booking if you are alone), check equipment if something malfunctions, and can help you along during your shoot.
This is clearly the biggest money-saver and is one less part of the coordinating process that you have to worry about. Be sure to ask any studio that you look into if they have staff on hand to help.
If you want your pictures to look clear, beautiful and professional, a studio shoot is an absolute must. Many photographers on a budget in New York shy away from it, though, because it seems too costly. However, if you find the right studio, models, and help, it doesn’t have to be outrageous.
Affordable studios are available for the smart and professional creative. Do yourself a favor and book a studio now!