Many of us dream of owning a photography studio…a brick and mortar location where we can serve clients. But a physical location might not be in the cards for your right now. So how and where can you serve clients indoors instead? We’ve got ideas on how and where to find great indoor photography locations when you don’t own a studio!
Today we’ll cover:
- What makes a great space
- Tips on finding and securing indoor photography locations
- Places in your community to consider using
What Makes a Great Space
First decide what you need in a portrait location, including space, background, bathrooms, etc. How much room will you need? Do you need natural light? Can you set up strobes and a backdrop?
Different jobs will have different needs. For example, I usually use a printed backdrop for mini sessions. But I might want a more authentic environment for an engagement session or personal branding sessions. And I need lots of room for extended family shoots!
- Backgrounds and Furnishings
- Bathrooms and/or changing areas
- Waiting rooms
Finding and Securing Indoor Photography Locations: 6 Tips
Don’t wait until you’re under a time crunch to find indoor studio locations! Plan ahead and you’ll always have a place to go!
Tip #1. Explore Your Town and Make a List
One of the lists I have on Google Keep is a list of possible indoor photography locations to use, and I have it at the ready, should I need it!
Sit down and brainstorm some ideas on possible locations. Make a list of what’s available in your area. Don’t be afraid to go outside your neighborhood, either. Sometimes a great space is available just a few miles down the road!
Then set aside some time to visit each location and make note of the amenities it has. If it checks all the boxes for your needs, keep it on your list. If not, cross it off your list and move on to the next one.
And be on the lookout for space all the time! If you think “Hey, this would be an ideal location for headshot sessions!” make a note of it in your phone or planner so you don’t forget!
Tip#2. Get Contact Information and Details Ahead of Time
Now that you’ve got a list, it’s time to get details. Ask around to get contact information on who is in charge of the space. Get a name and phone number for each location.
If you don’t know who to contact, ask your local chamber of commerce for help!
Set time aside to call each of those contacts and ask if they’d be open to allowing photography sessions. Make note of prices, hours available, and cost in your list. Also make note of health restrictions or special rules.
Knowing potential costs is critical to accurate pricing. If you have to pay for a space, build that into your pricing!
Having this information now makes planning a session easy. And if you’re ever in need of indoor space at the last minute, you know where to go and who to call!
Tip #3. Pay With In-Kind Services
Several places I “rent” don’t charge me for use of their space. As a thank you for their generosity, I pay with photography work! I provide social media images for their business, a gift card toward a session with me, or a donation to their fundraisers.
Tip #4. Rotate Spaces
It can be tempting to use the same space over and over. But don’t wear out your welcome at one indoor location. Rotating indoor photography spaces lets you maintain great relationships with location owners. Plus, you build more relationships with more people when you use several spaces a year!
Tip #5. Collaborate
Consider collaborating with another small business so you both benefit from your sessions. For example, I set up pet photography mini session in a farm and ranch store. I had a pet-friendly space for clients and the business showcased their new line of dog food to the owners!
Tip #6. Leave It Like You Find It
Growing up in agriculture, one of our sacrosanct rules was “leave the gate like you found it.”
Leave your borrowed space like you found it. Clean up your trash, return tables and chairs to their original locations. Sweep and vacuum the floors. Turn off lights, empty the trash, and lock the doors.
Be a great guest so you’ll be invited back!
30+ Ideas on Great Indoor Photography Locations
Below are ideas for an indoor photo session, from engagement photos to family photos.
Always, always, always get permission first before shooting in any of these locations, even if they are open to the public. Finally, always respect the property owner and follow their rules.
- Other Photographer’s Studios
- Cooperative Office Space
- Churches (most have meeting rooms or halls!)
- Dance studios (beautiful hardwood floors and often empty during the day!)
- Community buildings
- Senior centers
- Farm and ranch stores or animal shelters (perfect for pet photography!)
- Bank meeting rooms
- AirBNB or VBRO locations (confirm the property allows photography)
- Vacant commercial space (check with the listed realty agent or building owner!)
- Heated shops
- Executive conference rooms
- Greenhouses or botanical gardens
- Movie or Performing Arts Theatres
- Community Colleges
- Town firehalls
- Hotel lobbies
- Coffee shops
- Retail shops
- Parks and recreation facilities
- Town Hall meeting rooms
- Rec centers or your local YMCA
- Roller skating rinks (most are closed on weekdays!)
- Indoor malls or shopping centers
- Flower shops
- Model homes (many are fully furnished!)
- Indoor riding arenas or barns
- Art studios or galleries (murals make beautiful backgrounds!)