Big Changes for Spectrum Photography

brand new studio dad husband and framer

Behind the scenes, things like props for newborn sessions, editing family photos and weddings, and occasionally photos that clients capture of me taking pictures of them!
But this time, I’m excited to give you a peek at what went on to create the perfect home studio and why I took the plunge to make that a reality.

Why did I need a studio?
I’ve spent my career being an on-location, outdoor, and in-home photographer. Though I work year-round, the fall is often the busiest time of year for me. In a typical year, I work with around 150 families, brides, and babies, and many want to book again in the fall to do photos for the holidays. Because of this demand, with clients booking months in advance, my availability becomes limited during the last quarter of the year, especially when I don’t know what the weather will be like.

Weather becomes a big concern for Fall and Winter outdoor photos. In recent years, California has experienced a drought, which meant the likelihood of canceling was small. However, in 2016, 75% of my sessions needed to be rescheduled, canceled or shot in the halls of Saint Mary’s College due to rain.

Though we were so happy for the rain, it put a damper on photos, creating stress for the clients and me. Throughout the rainy season, I obsessively checked the weather multiple times a day, trying to guess the intensity of the rain we would get and trying to determine how best to handle the sessions that were scheduled.

By the end of 2016,  I was confident that I needed a studio space.

The search for the perfect location
I first started my studio search with commercial locations, which many photographers use. Though I found some beautiful sites, none were perfect. Some options would mean my clients would need to cross a bridge to get to me; other locations had soil samples that showed contaminates, while different locations were geographically perfect but had no natural light.

For a brief time, I even considered the idea of co-renting with other local photographers. A studio is a significant investment that I didn’t want to choose something that was anything other than exactly what I needed. Everything I found just was not it. 

Starting the home studio process
By January 2017, I still had found nothing. So, I decided to build a studio instead. I spent February to July working with an architect and the city for final approval of the studio. On July 28, 2017, the city approved my application for construction, and we were ready to move forward with building.

We almost had to wait nine months to begin
With approval from the city, we could finally start interviewing contractors. We had begun the process of talking in the Spring, 2017, but all said they did not want to commit to our job site until we had the final approval from the city. By the time we had the last approval, the contractors were booked for the remainder of the year and couldn’t begin until spring of 2018.

In my heart, I knew I could not have my clients go another rainy season standing in the halls of Saint Mary's. I didn’t want to be vulnerable to as the weather. Feeling like I was so close to a home studio, but still, so far away, I shared my frustration with my best friend’s Dad, Jeff Daykin, who is the owner of Daykin Electric. He recommended looking outside of getting a general contractor for our studio and moving forward without one.

The thought of going from dirt to a roof and not having someone in charge who knew what they were doing was way outside of my comfort zone. My Dad built his home over 30 years ago, I dabbled in woodworking in high school, and my husband had recently gotten into carpentry, but still, I felt uneasy about the idea.

Jeff recommended his friend, Jon Barber, who does side projects in construction after hours and on weekends. Jon began as a carpenter back in the Oakland Hills fires and works for a large construction team during the week. We met with Jon and instantly knew he was the person we needed. With Jon's years of experience, strong work ethic, and knowledge, he was the missing piece of our project. 

Dirt to roof in 8 weeks 
With our key man, Jon, in place, we then began to hire our sub-contractors. WC Concrete came in to excavate the area, haul away dirt, form the foundation, and pour the concrete. With the foundation set, we could begin to build! Jon Barber, Dad, and hubby started framing, raised the walls, installed insulation, windows, doors, and siding.

Then, the rough electrical was done by Daykin Electric, rough plumbing done by Sam's Plumbing, and drywall by Miller Interiors. We finished up with painting, completed the electrical, and then wrapped up plumbing, flooring, and finished with HVAC by SupAirman.  

By November 8, 2017, we had finished the studio and received the final approval by the city.
During the eight weeks of intense building, I photographed five weddings, 51 family/baby/newborn sessions, and taught three photography classes. My days were packed due to this being both my busiest time of year and most of the building taking place. Despite it being the worst time for my business to expand in this way, I knew it needed to be done to have an option for the Fall sessions when rain occurs.

What clients can expect
My goal for the studio location is to have a place where you can sit back and relax while I capture beautiful images of your family. The studio houses an array of props and accessories to enhance your pictures. Not only the items I regularly bring to clients' homes or location but a whole lot more.

With the home studio being a controlled environment, I can regulate lighting, wind, background, and temperature. There is no need to worry about sunlight or weather conditions, and there are no outside distractions. The studio can accommodate families, newborns, first birthday sessions, and more.

I still travel and work at clients' homes as I have in the past, we have another backup option for the rainy season, or families looking for a studio photography experience.

While the studio is complete, we have some fun projects planned to improve the exterior landscaping, which will be done in early 2018.

Check out our short video of the building process from start to finish:

A few behind the scenes shots from the building of the studio


Popular Posts