First off just want to say thanks for constantly sharing. So here it is. I am looking for a studio space and was wondering your thoughts on location. I live in Tacoma Wa a smaller but up and coming city in Wa. Should I opt for a space in the bigger more expensive city of downtown Seattle or does it not really matter? Shawn
I’d say it all depends on your client base you are serving now, the clients you hope to serve, and a bit of “perception” of who you are or want to be.
My studio is in Atlanta but my local clients are all over the place around the sprawling metro area. Some live in town. Some are in the Northern ‘burbs. Some are on the south side. I serve musicians and business people for the most part. Music and business congregates in the urban center of my city. While some folks live in the ‘burbs they come into the city to hang out, see shows, eat, entertain, go to meetings, etc.
I put myself in easy reach of where the community I work with and serve does life… even though they may live 30 miles out of town. The pulse of Atlanta beats around the urban neighborhoods so that is where I want to be. I live here. I work here. I am a part of it. I’ve thought once of moving to the Suburbs but I would still commute to a studio in town. I say I thought once of that. One time. Then I decided the Atlanta traffic would ruin my life so I ditched that idea.
If I was a senior portrait photographer I’d most likely have a studio in suburbs. More of my clients are based there so I’d go there.
So… who are you serving? Are you working mostly in Tacoma or mostly in Seattle? Do your clients see Seattle as their identity or Tacoma or do they not care? Maybe you are shooting products and it doesn’t matter. They are going to just ship or courier stuff to you.
There’s also a bit of perception about who you are and what you do. Don’t let that be your main point but you do have to consider it. If you are wanting to be a relevant cultural creative person then you need to be in that community. Is that community based in Seattle? Then I’d say you’re jumping on the 5 and heading North every day.
Looking at your site… you identify yourself as a Seattle photographer. I’d say you need to put your studio there. NOW… I think that once you are established and are a go to person in your market then you can kind of be anywhere you want. Think of it like a REALLY amazing restaurant. There are good restaurants in Tacoma. And good ones in Seattle. But there’s that ONE place you love that is WAY out of the way but worth the drive. They have THE BEST whatevers. You will drive the 100 mile round trip to have that one thing and pass 100 restaurants on the way.
IF you can become that kind of photographer then you can base yourself in Tacoma and the folks in Seattle will come to you. If you are not yet that kind of photographer then go to where your clients are. Does that mean you will be paying more money? Yes. That’s the cost of doing business there. Want to swim in those waters? Then you pay those rates. You might get something cheaper in Tacoma but not have any clients or you just have small beans kind of work coming in the door so it becomes a wash.
What are you doing now? What do you want in the next five years? Where do you see yourself most likely hitting that goal?
Checking your about page I don’t see a mention of wife and kids. Not sure if you have a partner or kids or any of that. If you are single and free then move your ass to Seattle and live in a studio for awhile. If you are “domesticated” now then do the commute if you are going to get a space in Seattle.
Make sure you have a marketing plan in place before you move. Make sure you can handle all the costs associated with a studio space. There’s the monthly rent and then utilities and gas to commute and then all the nickel and dime shit that adds up as you open a new space. Paint. Brooms. Mops. Coffee maker. Couch. Desks. Cups. Pencils. Wall prints. Stands. Sand bags. Booms. More lights. Extension cords. Shelves. Filing cabinet. Lamps. Light bulbs. Rugs. New locks. Security system. Insurance. Plunger and toilet brush. Fan. Props. Backgrounds. Drill. Toolset. Desk organizer. Refrigerator Microwave.
All that little stuff adds up and adds up and adds up. It’s amazing how much all the little stuff becomes overwhelming.