Although there will probably always be a need for bricks and mortar photography studios, the savvy photographer is going mobile. It can be too much of a hassle in time and gas money to bring yourself to a photography studio, so you need to go to the customers, instead. When the customers don’t have to pay for travel, they tend to spend on extra prints. Even premier professional portrait photographer Annie Liebovitz went to the Queen of England instead of the other way around.
Have you ever gone into a pet store and seen a display about a pet photographer coming to the store? If you’ve ever come back on pet photography days, you know the lines go out the door. This also happens for children’s professional photography or for any formal portraits, which can often be quickly set up in the corner of a large department store.
And what photographers do these stores pick on these busy days? They pick photographers with a mobile photography studio. Although some chain stores, like Sears, might have their own in-house photographers, for the most part, if you contact a store to set up a portrait day, you’re going to get some action (provided you have good references and a great portfolio, that is.)
Stocking Your Vehicle
You don’t need to bring everything and the kitchen sink along to your next portrait gig. You do need a van, truck or at least a station wagon filled with lighting equipment, extension cords, extra batteries, different colored background drapes or cloths, a tripod, some reflective umbrellas or cards to help with your lighting and a vast array of props. Usually, adults don’t need any more props than a chair. But pets and kids need some squeaky toys to get their attention, at least. And, of course, you need a camera or two.
Just about the only thing you can’t stock in your mobile photography studio is a good darkroom and your darkroom chemicals. Professionals who want to make creative photography out of even the most basic portrait need to develop their own pictures. Many photographers can do away with the need of a darkroom altogether by going digital. That way, their laptops, their memory cards and their cameras become the photography studio darkroom. Some artists claim that the quality of a real live film photography studio can’t be matched, but technology is very quickly catching up with the imagination.