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studio rental business

Larry Lynch , Oct 05, 2010; 09:48 p.m.

Hi:

I will soon be adding studio rental to my business. It will be a unique business for this area, and I am optimistic about it.

I would like to hear from others who have a similar business, or wh have used such a business. i want to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

Thanks in advance.

Larry

Responses

Mikael Karlsson , Oct 05, 2010; 10:09 p.m.

Larry:

To get relevant answers chances are you need to add a few details like where you are at in the world. Having a studio for rent wouldn't be different than having any other space for rent. make sure you are extremely well covered with insurance. make sure your contracts/lease agreements cover everything and all that good stuff.

Larry Lynch , Oct 05, 2010; 10:33 p.m.

OK, more details.

There are no other studio rentals within 300 miles. It's a small market, artistic college town.
Insurance, check. 1000 sq.ft. Completely equipped. I worry about theft and damage, and any other unforeseen issues. I have never rented a studio before, so I may be overlooking what others may be expecting, from the novice to the experienced. Just wondering about precautions that are less obvious, other than insurance and rental agreements.

Thanks

Tom Mann , Oct 06, 2010; 01:14 a.m.

I hope you have a person on-site whenever the studio is being used. If not, you may find yourself in a similar situation to one I encountered.

To partially offset the cost of some (scientific) lab space I was renting, I sublet part of my space to a middle-aged, seemingly rock-solid colleague. One day, I happened to arrive very early in the morning to find him sound asleep in a sleeping bag in his portion of the lab. Apparently, his wife had kicked him out a couple of weeks earlier, so he had been using the lab as a motel, taking his showers in the gym next door and cleaning up his camping gear before my group would arrive every morning. I gave him a couple of days to find an apartment to rent.

:-)

Tom M

Mikael Karlsson , Oct 06, 2010; 12:15 p.m.

Yikes Tom, that doesn't sound like fun.

OnT: One added thing to think about is a good security system. Can be a bit expensive to put in but once in it should help you get a nice discount on the insurance. Make sure to check with the insurance company beforehand though and don't take the word of the security company.

One thing I would probably do is to keep a photo log of props and equipment. Photograph the various pieces after each use to document any damage, stress etc. If caught early and specifically directly after a session it should be easier to get renters to pay up for any damage them caused.

Personally I think I would be hesitant to offer my studio for rent if I had one that was suitable. There are just so many things that can go wrong and turn into quite elaborate, expensive and time-consuming problems. Then again, that's all part of the calculation of if it's worth it or not I guess...

Joseph Wisniewski , Oct 06, 2010; 04:20 p.m.

Oh, a handful of things we learned at MPW...

  • Padlocked storage for your own gear, otherwise every small piece of equipment will eventually disappear. Our losses included pocket wizards, light meters, Softars, and assorted props.
  • Surprisingly large pieces of lighting equipment will disappear. Grids, light stands, snoots.
  • Even the most robust light accessory attachment system will get trashed. Renters are ingenious like that. A fragile system like Elinchrom doesn't stand a chance, get on good terms with a local machine shop, or learn basic metal working.
  • Someone will figure out how to pop your strobes at full power, 4,000 times in one 3 hour session, melting a Speedotron blackline pack into slag.
  • There is a design flaw in pocket wizards. If the transceiver is left on long enough to completely drain the battery, it will also fry the power supply chip in the PW.
  • Charge "per pull" of the seamless paper.
  • If you have a white painted cyc, people will trash it faster than you ever thought possible. Someone will bring in something that leaks a lot of oil (a motorcycle, a model that they use four bottles of baby oil on)
  • Somebody will shoot something controversial in your studio, and you will end up implicated. Have a first-rate lawyer draft your rental agreement.
  • Your liability insurance probably specifically excludes subletting, and probably requires you or a direct employee of yours to monitor all situations.
  • Somebody will play with fire in your studio.
  • Somebody will cause a hazmat situation in your studio.
  • Overhead scissor systems are your friend.
  • Anything nice left in the model changing room will disappear. You always have to have lotion, but if you put out something decent like Neutrigena, it will be gone in days.

I said "will" a lot. I mean it, not "may", but "will". All of these things happened.

Ted Suss , Oct 14, 2010; 05:44 p.m.

Larry,
Are you planning on renting this to someone for a year lease or is this a "by-the-hour" type of arrangement? In addition to insurance (and plenty of it), you should have a security deposit. Unless you're renting the space empty, there is lots to consider. If something doesn't work, is it the fault of the person who discovers it or the prior person who rented? If someone rents the space and has clients, models, a make-up artist, etc. and something isn't functioning are you liable to cover all of their out-of-pocket expenses? It seems to me that the best scenario here is to rent the empty space and again, lots of insurance....-TED :-)

Thibaud Guerin-Williams , Aug 06, 2012; 12:43 p.m.

This article is a bit old, but i thought I might contribute a question I had.
Larry, says he is opening a studio in a college town where there is no other studio to be had for around 300 miles. I am currently living in Richmond, VA, which is arguably just a large college town/city with very few professionals in need of a studio (not that there are no professionals here, but I have found it to be more Wedding/Event based). Meanwhile, the VCU photography students have access to their own school studio/darkroom/etc whenever they want without the hassle and expense of going to another studio.
Keep in mind, Richmond is a fairly artsy place, but with regard to photography it does not seem as though there are really that many established photographers who are making a go of it on a "larger" business scale. Many of the photographers who seems to be known here appear to revolve around the music scene, and they don't seem to be making much money because they simply do not approach their trade with that direction in mind.
All this said, does anyone have any experience in starting up a studio rental business where the predominant business demographic may already be spoken for because they either already have that resource covered or just aren't in need of it?

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