27 Sep Studio Style with Heather Symes
When and why did you decide to launch a home studio?
I decided two years ago that it was time to create a home studio. I was struggling to find consistency with traveling to my clients’ homes. Usually the room wasn’t heated up enough, it took a lot of time going back and forth to my car unloading all my gear, and I never knew what the space and lighting was going to be. It took some time to turn the playroom with awful green carpet into the newborn studio it is today.
What inspiring touches to your space are most special to you?
I love my “Be Kind” bell hanging near the entrance. It is from Ben’s Bells and always reminds me that kindness wins.
Best business advice you’ve ever received?
The best business advice I’ve received has been about pricing and figuring out cost of doing business. Don’t worry about what everyone else is charging, worry about what you need to make to be profitable. Figure out your monthly expenses (make sure to add in equipment repairs or upgrades), how many sessions you’ll do a month, the length of time they’ll take (include prep & editing too) and what your hourly income will be. Do the math to figure out what you NEED to make at each session and make that your starting point. I have been in the black since my first year in business. (Editor’s note: Use your NAPCP credentials to log in and use our Studio Calculator tool!)
What are you up to when you’re not working?
When I’m not working I’m either playing with my three kids or watching General Hospital.
How do you kick off your Mondays?
Now that school is back in session, Mondays consist of getting my boys on the bus and my daughter to preschool. I then go grocery shopping and get a little bit of work done before I have to pick her up.
Can you give fellow work-from-home moms some advice? How do you stay focused?
Well, this is something that I’m still working on myself. I dedicate one evening a week to edit, and try to do the rest when the kids are in school. Some weeks are busier than others, so it doesn’t always work out this way and I have to find more time to get work done. One of the best things I did this year was sign up with Tave. The studio management program has allowed me to stay on top of things and streamline my business.
Tell us about how your home studio has benefited your business.
I was really worried that I wouldn’t have as many newborns want to travel to me after being an on location newborn photographer for 4 years. The opposite happened though and I’ve found that my clients love coming to the studio. The sessions take less time, and they get to sit back and watch a movie, and often take a nap. They don’t have to worry about the dishes, laundry, or people trying to visit them. It has allowed me to have more time that I would have been driving to focus on my business.
What’s your favorite, most functional piece in your studio?
My Hemnes Sideboard from IKEA, which I just realized I don’t have a full image of! It has three drawers and two cabinets with shelves. Inside I store marketing materials, extra memory cards, snacks & water and anything else I need to stuff in there. The TV sits on top and I display products that I offer. All my wraps hang on the backside of it. It also serves as a divider of the sitting and shooting areas of my studio. It has so many purposes and I love everything about it!