Review: Renting A Studio (Roharik Productions)
Written by: steve
By Steve Russell
It’s a safe bet that for every photographer with their own studio, there are four or five that wish they had one. While it’s a great convenience to have a studio and even a little ego boosting because a studio is somewhat of a validation that you’re a “real” photographer, studios require space and a significant investment. Both of those key requirements are something most of us don’t have. While it is possible to set up an in-home studio for a modest expenditure, when you start talking about 4’x6’ soft boxes, octoboxes, hair lights, kickers, pocket wizards and the like, you’re beginning to talk about a lot of money. Additionally, when you ask yourself the one question you should always ask before purchasing more equipment – “How often am I going to use this?” – it’s usually difficult to justify the expenditure. I recently answered that question for myself and concluded, not very often for now. However, there are times when you really have a legitimate need for one and you’re faced with trying to figure out what to do. Regular readers of this blog know that I have access to a studio through a professional photographer friend, but sometimes even that doesn’t solve the problem.
My wife and I travelled to Columbus, Ohio, for Christmas to visit our youngest son and his wife and daughter. I know, travelling from sunny Florida to freezing Columbus may not be considered the brightest decision in some circles but it was Christmas. For the trip I decided that I would take my photography equipment to capture some family photographs.
Most people that live “up North” have those novel conveniences called a basement. Having been in my son’s basement before, I came up with this great idea of renting studio equipment while I was there and setting it up in his basement to create a temporary studio. I was aware that this meant going to pick-up the equipment, hauling it to his house, unloading and setting up the equipment, spending two or three hours taking photos, taking down the equipment…you get the idea. A lot of work but I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity.
While searching the internet for a place to rent equipment in Columbus I stumbled across a link to a place where you could rent the entire studio and decided to investigate this appealing alternative to renting and moving equipment. The studio belonged to Roharik Productions and is near downtown Columbus.
Frankly, I was a little intimidated reading the website. This was not a studio someone had in their spare room or in a workshop behind their house. This was a studio that had been used for companies like Victoria’s Secret, Nationwide Insurance and Abercrombie & Fitch – all companies headquartered in Columbus. The studio could be easily described as being in the “big time” of professional studios.
After thinking about it for a while I called one afternoon and spoke to a woman named Lily. I explained to her what I was considering and made it clear that I was a rookie in the studio, that my photography experience was nature and landscape photography and was just learning portraiture and studio photography. Lily was extremely helpful and explained how the rental works, costs, etc. She also mentioned that if I wanted, I could have an assistant from their staff for the session. I talked to her for about 15 or 20 minutes and a few days later called back to reserve a time to use the studio and also requested an assistant.
We’ve all experienced those occasions when we had high expectations and anticipation for something only to be greatly disappointed in the end. It could have been a book, a movie, a party or even what we thought was going to be a great photo only to discover that it didn’t come out of the camera looking like what we thought we saw through the view finder. We’ve also experienced the times when our expectations weren’t very high only to receive a very pleasant surprise. How many times, though, have we had high expectations, only to have them exceeded? This turned out to be one of those rare occurrences.
We arrived at the studio at about 10:30 in the morning when we walked through the door, this is what I saw. Now, before you think I’m a total hayseed and this is the first time I’ve been to the city, I’ve been in numerous photography studios including some I thought were quite well equipped. I’ve also been in television studios and movie sound stages. Still, the size of the studio and the amount and variety of equipment was impressive to say the least as you can see from these images provided by the studio.
To give you a more detailed idea of what the studio was like, this description of the shooting space is taken directly from the Roharik Productions Studio Rental website:
Ceiling-mounted lighting support rail system and electrical
outlets allow for a stand and cord-free shooting space
- Rail grid systems supports up to 20lb strobe and video lights
- 65 feet of distance from shooting subject
- Ceiling-mounted 12′ wide backgrounds
- 9′ wide wall-mounted backgrounds (15 background colors)
- Wireless Remote controlled strobe lights
- Free high speed DSL internet and wireless N/G network
- Over 2000 sq foot open shooting space with no obstructions
- 13.5 foot high exposed aged timber ceiling
- Oversized 48″ side-loading doors for equipment and furniture
- Private bathroom and dressing room
- Make-up and styling station
- 24′ wide by 12′ tall white and black muslin on rails for shooting
- Workshop and prop storage separate and out of view
- Client controlled industrial heating and cooling
Amy, the assistant, met us when we arrived and spent the first 15 to 30 minutes orienting me with the studio and discussing the lighting equipment and how I wanted to use it and set it up. Then while I was setting up my camera gear and getting ready, Amy set up the back drop, the lights and connected the pocket wizards to the lights and gave me one to put on my camera. Next, Amy fired the lights while I measured the intensity with my light meter and she adjusted the output until the intensity was where I wanted it.
Although I expected that the assistant would be familiar with all the equipment, any possible reservations I might have had were immediately erased by Amy. She was far more than just competent and comfortable with the equipment and the performance of her job.
When we started shooting I told her that she should feel free to make suggestions or offer advice. I think she was a little hesitant at first but when she felt comfortable with me and knew I wasn’t going to bite off her head if she said something, she jumped right in and provided extremely valuable assistance.
At the end of the session, not only was I able to capture some great images but I also, thanks to Amy, learned a lot. For example, I spent the first hour or so of shooting, getting the subject(s) posed just right and getting the best smile, etc. A couple of times Amy suggested that I shoot more frequently – take lots of shots. Finally, it sunk in and I told my eight year old granddaughter to do whatever she wanted to do and I started taking one shot after another. I was able to capture some wonderful images of her that I would never have captured had I continued to pose and shoot, pose and shoot. I learned, let your subject be themselves part of the time and just shoot.
Another thing I learned is that there is no substitute for experience. Intellectually I knew that the camera setting that works in one studio won’t necessarily work in another. However, until I saw that this studio was about two stops brighter than my last studio experience it hadn’t really sunk in.
The bottom line – I rented the studio for four hours for a fee of $250. The assistant was an additional $100. In other words, $350 to rent a world class photography studio with an expert assistant for less than the rental of the necessary equipment to set up a temporary studio in a basement. If you’re in Columbus, OH and need a studio I strongly recommend you consider Roharik Productions. If you need a studio for a session and don’t have access to one, I recommend you look into studio rentals near you.
At the end of the session I took a few shots of Lily and Amy (Lily is the one with red hair). Something else I learned. Working in a studio teaches you how to ham it up for the camera. It was a wonderful experience made even better by Amy and Lily.
*The Author did NOT receive any products or compensation in exchange for mentioning the Provider’s products and/or services on this website. The Author purchased this product for personal use with personal funds. We will only endorse products or services that we believe, based on our expertise, are worthy of such endorsement. This is not an advertisement.
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