We are excited to introduce a new column to SSG. Spaces We Love will be a monthly feature showcasing amazing spaces that photographers all over the world are rocking. We hope that we can inspire you to create a space you love!
Featured Photographer: GB Daniels Portraits
Location: Columbus, GA
How big is your space? 450 square feet
Tell us about your business journey how long have you been in business have you concentrated on seniors or other genres? I began in this industry 8 years ago and was photographing families, newborns and seniors. Pretty soon I decided to focus on High School seniors as I was drawn to and enjoyed portraiture so much more. I have focused on serving seniors and their family network circles for the past 5 years.
What was your turning point in deciding that you needed to open a space? A few years ago I had finally achieved what I felt was a great accomplishment for me, I had a downtown photography studio, only to quickly learn that my market still preferred outdoor sessions despite my best efforts to get them inside. It soon became a glorified dressing room as our makeup artists all had amazing salons and preferred using them to keep up with our schedules and demand during senior season. This first studio was a stepping-stone but not to be my final destination in my journey as a photographer. I was at a critical point in my personal life that I had to decide to keep that studio or begin to think differently about what the “Photographer’s Dream” really meant for ME. With my own senior last year, family issues taking care of my momma who had cancer, homeschooling my middle son who has Autism, assorted health issues, everything was at a breaking point or turning point. I refused to go backwards, a home studio was not an option in my city as they do not allow us to run ANY business legally from your residence, so I took a big risk and leapt forward. I bought a 40’ RV and retrofitted it as a mobile studio production vehicle. We brought the dressing room, makeup station, meeting area and AIR CONDITIONING (very much needed in the South) to my clients on location. What senior doesn’t deserve the best of VIP treatment and pampering on their special day?
What would be your one tip about financially planning for opening a studio space? It is vital that you be honest with yourself about budget, be realistic, don’t build it and assume they will come. Run your numbers, know your CODB (costs of doing business) and plan for tragedy and life to trump your plans. I set my budget and stuck to it. Tour buses can run upwards of $200K plus for a 20 year old used one and RV prices can run the gamut—chose your real world budget for any type of studio and stick to it. I was adamant that this venture not add further to my family crisis but instead help us by changing the path of my studio’s future.
How long was your process of opening your space? It was October 2014 when I devised this crazy plan and we spent 1 month driving all over the South looking for the right unit. After purchasing her in November we spent 6 months gutting it and retrofitting it to my designs. In April 2015 we launched the Senior VIP Tour in and had over 120 students book for Prom.
What was your favorite part or is your favorite part of your studio space? My favorite part of my studio space is that it is mobile, flexible to suit my clients needs and undeniably unique. While there are certainly other photographers out there who have their variations of mobile studios, mine was designed for my studio process and looks unlike any other out there. I love that I get to pamper my seniors and provide a truly custom experience befitting of a VIP for them.
Looking back on your growing business, opening a space and currently running in your space what would be something that you might change? Looking back on my journey up to this point, I am grateful for every step of the way. I still feel like a kindie in this huge photography industry with so much to learn. I wish the thought and chance to go mobile had come sooner perhaps, but that is all.
How has having your own studio space changed your business?
There is nothing like having your studio name emblazoned on a 40’ bus touring around town. People stop us all the time and it takes forever to get to any destination—we add 30 minutes to account for it. I’ve had folks like barbers, etc. stop us and ask all sorts of questions and I love it, it represents hope for today’s small business owner’s in flooded markets that you CAN step outside the norm and succeed. There is indeed a new movement of today’s businesses growing by going mobile. My mobile studio has confirmed for me that I am indeed following my own path, despite there being other senior photographers in my area, that I am without a doubt thinking for myself and successful in doing what works for me.
What was something that was a surprise during this process whether it be a positive or a negative that you would want somebody going into opening their own space know about? I don’t know about other studio spaces, but going from driving a Prius to a 40’ production vehicle has been the biggest challenge for me. I think I am a wicked fierce driver but for some reason, my crew is distressed when I drive haha!
How did you go about designing and decorating the layout of your space? Did you hire a designer do it yourself? I consulted with several people in the motorhome industry as well as a few designers who all thought I was insane. Despite being told this would never work, I went on to painstakingly lay out my studio design based on my personal business process with my clients, how I consult, prep, shoot, sales, every step was factored in. I really love the white space and openness and light and how it matches by branding. Black & white with splashes of pink is an undeniably girly statement and assures my clients that we are on the same style page and I understand where they are coming from. Space is at a premium so creative organization is a must. We are able to serve Seniors, commercial work, headshots (personal branding and pageants) all seamlessly within this creative space at my client’s door. It is indeed my happy place.
Periscope: GBDaniels See us scope from the bus!