Two years ago, on this very day, I published an article on how a studio can help your wedding photography business. I wrote the article about Sam Hurd, who had just moved into his new studio. Today, I am publishing this from my new studio, something I didn’t even see in my future back when I wrote that article. Once I set a date to leave my day job earlier this year, I had really been looking forward to working from home, spending the day walking around in my boxers, or maybe a robe. In August when I left, that whole idea I had quickly got old, and honestly just didn’t work. Two weeks ago, I packed everything up and moved it into a studio/office space to do all my work there. Why did I spend the money and give up working a few steps from my couch and TV? Let me explain.
1. A Photography Studio Will Give You Separation of Family and Work
After leaving my full-time job as an engineer five months ago, I immediately started to enjoy being at home with my wife and son. It was absolutely great while my son was still crawling, but once he started walking last month, it was a whole new world. I don’t have a 3rd room in the house for an office, so I had my desk set up in the living room/office. Once he started walking and could then also reach up and grab the mouse, being productive any other time than naptime was a challenge.
My work schedule began revolving around nap time. I would get work done in small pockets of time all throughout the day, when I could get the chance. Each pocket of time trying to get as much done as possible, which was not very fun. That led to never really getting much done in one sitting, and more importantly, it made it extremely tough separating family time from work time. Every time I would play with my son, I would have the list of things I needed to get done in the back of my mind. Every time I would be at my desk working, I would feel guilty not spending quality time with my son. It became a real struggle, so I knew it was time to either move into a bigger house or rent a studio/office space.
Buying a new house could take months – time I didn’t have. I reached out to a friend whom I knew had a few empty 2nd-floor rooms available in the town just 15 minutes away. I went and looked at them on a Thursday evening and moved in the next day. It’s only been two weeks, and I am absolutely loving that decision. I can dedicate time to working when I’m there, and dedicate time to my family, especially my one-year-old son, when I’m home.
2. Having a Studio Is More Professional
Last year, my wife Sandi and I shot 45 weddings, which means over 45 wedding consultations. We had been doing all of those at our home, which was nice for a while. Now that we have a one-year-old, clients sometimes got to see a little more of family life than a professional consultation entails. We would have to either hire a babysitter at times, or we would take turns doing the consultations while the other watched our son. With the studio, we now have a professional place to hold consultations where there are no distractions.
3. A Photography Studio is Good For Mental Health
I remember thinking to myself how nice it would be to wake up and work from home every day while I sat in my cubical at my engineering job. Driving into work was something I did my whole life, other than one day a week that I was allowed to work from home. Once I left that job and went full time, it didn’t take long for me to settle into the comfortable role of editing in sweatpants and a t-shirt. Some days when I had busy weeks of editing, the only daylight I saw was when I went to get the mail. After a couple of months of waking up, walking to my desk down the hall to work, playing daddy for the rest of the day, it mentally started to wear on me. Cabin fever started to sink in. I needed to really force myself to leave the house.
Leaving the house and driving into the studio feels good. I get to clear my head a little and breathe some fresh air. I get to see the world outside again, see people, talk to people, all things that help me not only mentally, but creatively. Plus, like mentioned in reason number one, I’m able to leave work at work and be fully present for my family.
It’s pretty funny how I couldn’t wait to work from home, and now just a few months later, I am sitting here typing this up in my nice new studio/office overlooking Main Street in Hammonton, NJ. When I was writing that article about Sam two years ago, I hadn’t even thought that a studio was something I would ever even want, much less need. The monthly payment is well worth it to me, and even though I might not have done it if I owned a bigger house with a separate office, I’m very very happy I have this now.
I love being able to spend time with my wife and son when I’m home, not having to worry about work. If there is something that needs to get done, I have the ability to remote desktop into my iMac, or simply use my laptop. I love being able to focus while I’m in the studio and not have to worry about family life distracting me, which allows me to get a lot more done in a shorter period of time. I love being able to simply drive to my studio and see the world in motion again, getting fresh air, and clearing my head.
I rent two rooms on a 2nd floor, overlooking the main street. To help with the new monthly bill, I teamed up with two friends (also in the wedding industry); a letterpress and print artist who does amazing work, Narola Design, and a hairstylist/makeup artist that is one of the best in our area, Taffeta Hair & Makeup. One room is an office and meeting room for clients. The second room is a room for any type of shoots I may want to do, and also a room for the hair and makeup artist to hold trials for her brides.The rooms have old brick walls and are very stripped down, giving that industrial feel that I really love. We are still putting the finishing touches on the decorating, but for the most part, we are done (aside for a few things left to be hung on the walls).
It’s the day after Christmas, so I’m going to wrap this up and get back to the family. I wanted to share this with all of you to maybe help push you to do something similar if working from home isn’t quite what you thought it to be. There are a lot of benefits to this approach. I’m so glad I made the move and got out of the house.
Happy Holidays, everyone!