Photography Studio

How to setup a Photo Studio (That’s Profitable)

Photography studios can be very profitable and in this blog I’ll show you the key items needed to set up. How to setup a photo studio the right way? And by the “right way” I’m saying in the most profitable and friendly to your audience. In an average market, a simple photography studio that’s about 1000 sq. feet could generate up to $125,000-180,000 per year! In some of the healthier markets in big cities, you can likely make profits that are in the $225,000 per year range. Excited yet? Let’s dive in!

Before we go into the list of necessary items to set up your photo studio, I want to mention that it’s possible you haven’t yet decided about opening a photography studio yet. I have a blog post and video that will help you and really help you decide. Read that first and then come back here.

Items to Include for Free in Your Photo Studio

You’ll need to provide the people who rent from you, many options and be intentional. How to setup a photo studio with intention? You should provide enough that your clients can do their job and provide enough solutions if they wish to upgrade their experience.

That means you must offer many items as part of the rental and then offer some other items that will save them time, money, and energy. If you do it correctly, the studio should prosper and you become a local favorite amongst other artists.

  1. STUDIO LIGHTS: The first one which is not in the video is studio lights. You can offer a slim line of strobes that seal the deal when it comes to photographing at your studio. It’s true that some investments will cost you more. It’s the cost of business and instead of thinking of them as a cost, switch that to making them an investment in your future. I like these Godox Lights for $98 each.

    Godox Speed-light

  2. C STANDS: C- Stands are a photo studio essential item. There are aluminum light stands and then real stands that help the creative in their work. Get C-stands for your photo studio. I like these from Neewer for $170 each.

    Neewer Stand

    Neewer C-Stand

  3. SANDBAGS FOR SAFETY: Sandbags are a must for your photo studio! If you are going to offer C stands, you must offer sandbags. Here is a $24 option from Amazon Basics. 

    Fillable sand bags

    Refillable Sandbags

  4. STUDIO VFLAT: Want to feel ripped off? Buy yourself a Vflat because the cardboard should never be that expensive and it is! It’s a studio must and it’s used by every single photographer! You can look at VFlat World as one option.  And no, I’m not an affiliate for them.

    V Flats for photoshoots

    V Flat

  5. A ROLLING CART: Photographers ask how to set up a photo studio and forget the photographer’s cart! Don’t do this to your photographer. Invest in a rolling cart that will save their equipment and help them feel protected. Here is a $112 cart that is good.

    Photographer rolling cart

    Rolling cart

  6. A MINI FRIDGE: Cold drinks? YES! Make sure you have a small fridge. You can either ask the photographer to drag a big cooler with ice or just provide a fridge for them. Those small gestures go a long way. Here is an option for under $150.


    Mini-fridge for the studio

  7. GLAM STATION: In the video, I’ll talk about the right type of lighting for your makeup/hair setup. Make sure that the light is daylight balanced and ideally LED, this will keep the room cooler and your electric bill lower. I really like this option for $118.  

    Makeup mirror

    Mirror and LED Lights for the photo studio glam room

  8. COMMUNITY BOARD: How to set up a photo studio with community support? Get yourself a bulletin board and support the community first! A $29 investment can really bring people in and help them feel supported.

    Photo Studio Bulletin Board

    Photo Studio Bulletin Board

  9. STUDIO APPLE BOXES: You should really offer apple boxes for your photography studio. They shouldn’t cost this much, but it’s a one-time investment, and they last forever. Here is a $158 option to get you started.

    Apple Boxes for Photoshoots

    Apple Boxes for Photoshoots

  10. FULL-LENGTH MIRROR: All wardrobe areas need a full-length mirror that’s wide enough and without borders around the frame. This is a good option for $119 and IKEA is another good choice.

    full-length photo studio mirror

    full-length photo studio mirror

  11. A BLOG: Get yourself a blog to promote the people who support your studio. I suggest a simple WordPress blog but use any that you like.
  12. SEAMLESS PAPER: If you do not have a white cyc in your studio, then you should provide seamless paper. I think that white is the freebie and possibly a light gray. Then if they want additional colors, you can charge for that. Here is a good option for you at $33.

    Photoshoot Seamless paper

    Photoshoot Seamless paper in multiple colors

  13. BLACKOUT CURTAINS FOR NATURAL LIGHT STUDIO: If you can get a studio with natural window light, get it! Those studios do much better because it opens you up to any type of client. If you do get the natural light type of studio, then opt for blackout curtains too! There are affordable options starting at $23. 

    Blackout Curtains for photo studio

    Blackout Curtains for photo studio

Photography Studio Items to Charge for

The list of items to offer with the studio is long and necessary. There are other items that you should carry and they are profitable. You asked how to set up a photo studio and I got you! Now let’s go to the items you can rent out and how much could go for!

  1. BOSE Portable Sound Studio: This is extra for the makeup room, for when they go outside or just don’t want to blast a bigger system. It’s only $129 and you can rent this out for $5-10 per shoot. I would do $8 myself.

    Bose Speakers for photoshoot

    Bose Speakers for photoshoot

  2. FOLD UP TABLE: Get it. You will rent them out nonstop and never ever regret it. Rent these out for  $5-7 each. Buy them here for about $60 each.

    fold-up tables for photoshoots

    fold-up tables for photoshoot productions

  3. FOLD UP CHAIRS: I like these chairs. They are simple, comfortable, and stack nicely together. You can rent them out for $2-3 each and people will usually get 4-8 of them at once.

    Fold-up chairs for on set

    How to setup a photo studio for events? Get chairs!

  4. ROLLING RACKS: Wait you think I want you to charge for these?! Yes, I do because the first one should be free. The 2nd and third ones, they can pay for. You’re literally saving them time and space in their car. They will rent it out. Get these for about $50. You can rent them at $5 each.

    Rolling rack for wardrobe stylist

    Rolling rack for wardrobe stylist (rentable)

  5. CLOTHING STEAMER: A good steamer is great and your studio needs one. Have them rent it out and they will have access to it. Something like this is great for under $70.  Rent out for $8-10.

    Wardrobe stylist steamer

    Photo Studio Setup: Wardrobe Stylist Steamer

  6. CATERING: No you won’t have to cater anything. Supply a short list (about 5) of people you trust and who have experience in your studio. Have them provide you with a menu of options and then share that with each production. You ask for a 10%-15% commission. ONLY recommend people you trust and who will do a good job. The commission is like any sales job because you are doing all of the marketing for them. It’s a fair rate.
  7. SEAMLESS PAPER STAND: They can use 2 C-stands to prop up (with sandbags) to hold up a roll of paper. If they want an additional stand so they can have multiple options ready-t0-go then you can rent them this stand. I think $5 is fair.

    Seamless Paper Photography Backdrop Stand

    Seamless Paper Photography Backdrop Stand

Should I Open a Photography Studio?

Many photographers wonder if they should open a photo studio. It can be very profitable, giving you a full-time income to live a comfortable life. It can also be very time consuming, that is the number of hours you would be open and client management. It can be a massive gateway to meeting new people. I can also be a huge liability. I have two resources to help you find more information:

  1. Should you open a photography studio? Here are the good, the bad, and the ugly of starting your business. CLICK HERE.
  2. Here are 4 unique ways to promote your photography Studio. CLICK HERE.

As someone that had his own studio for a while, you can always contact me. If you need a private mentoring/coaching session on how to setup a photo studio the right way. CLICK HERE.

Photography Studio Questions:

Is a photography studio profitable?

How to setup a photo studio to be very profitable and earn anywhere from $120,000 a year, up to several hundred thousand. It depends on your market and what you offer. If a television production or a movie rent your location then you could easily make five to $20,000 for a couple of days.

Here’s an example of how profitable an average photo studio is. It cost me $1090 for one day. The studio will keep about $1000 of that. They keep the fee and the clean up/painting of the cyc fees. Imagine booking your studio for only half the month. You shoot half the month and you book the studio for the other half. Your studio rental profits could be about $15,000 per month.

Photography Studio Rental Tip

Here’s how much the photo studio profited from me in one day.

How much does it cost to run a photo studio?

You will need an employee, or several of them, to cover all of the days and hours your studio will be open. You will need to add up bills like electricity, studio cameras for security, insurance, and cleaning supplies. Just painting the white cyc area can consume a large amount of white paint from the hardware store.

How do I build a photography studio?

The best option is to take over a studio that someone is getting rid of. That way everything is built in place and ready to go. Your biggest expense will be the equipment needed for each production and building of the white cyc. Other than that, you are simply providing space.

I Need Help, Can You Mentor Me?

I can and I love to do it! I owned my own studio and I’m happy to speak with you on a one on one zoom call. That way you can ask questions that pertain to your exact business.

You can also sign up below for my free photographer survival package. This blog is dedicated to helping you make more money. From time to time you will get freebies and cheat sheets that help you along the way. You will get first announcements on new YouTube videos and podcasts that will help you grow. And you get first access to my online courses at promo rates. Sign up below for free!