For photographers looking for a professional studio to call their own, if only for a few hours, a Minot woman has come up with a novel solution.
Erica McCauley has started Studio Share, a photography studio she intends to share with the entire community. Located in Oak Park Shopping Center at 1222-4th Ave. NW, next to the former location of Advantage Appliance, Studio Share offers several natural-light shooting areas available for rent by the hour, half day or day.
"It's open to all levels of photographers, from the mom shooting her own kids to the professional that's in business running without a studio," McCauley said. "It's rentable by the hour to anybody that wants to use it."
While the photography spaces, which are rentable anytime day or night, will be Studio Share's primary purpose, there is also additional room that can be used for meetings, parties or other events.
"It's just a big, airy creative space that I think can be used for everything from birthday parties to anything that you can think of," she said.
Membership in Studio Share will cost $100 per month, and allow members to rent photography space in the studio for $20 per hour. The fee for non-members is $50 an hour, $200 for a half day and $400 for a full day. Half days must run from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. or 1 to 6 p.m. To reserve a time slot or for more information call 720-6567.
McCauley plans to eventually offer customers the option of booking their reservations online, but for now it must be done by phone.
Along with the reduced rental price, members will also enjoy several advertising benefits. There are massive photo frames on one of the walls that will be filled with the photographs of members hoping the catch the eye of potential new clients who also use the studio.
Another benefit members receive is secure storage space for their photography gear so they can leave it on site if they wish.
The studio offers a lot of natural light, but photographers are free to bring as much of their own equipment as they wish, including backgrounds and lighting. McCauley has a background stand customers can use, but that's about all there is besides the studio. Photographers are expected to bring all their own equipment for whatever type of shooting they want to do.
"I let them in and I walk away. The hour, or three hours or however long they booked, is completely theirs. I'm not over their shoulder, they don't have to answer to me, nobody's watching them," McCauley said. "It's completely free for them to set up how they see fit, do any creative ideas that they want. If their kids throw a fit and they're naughty, nobody knows it but them."
Although she already had a soft opening May 1, McCauley is going to celebrate the beginning of her new business with an official grand opening June 4 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Along with being able to get a firsthand look at the studio and other rooms, attendees will also be able to win door prizes from a variety of vendors including Studio Share, Art Relief, Bead for Life, Pictures on the Prairie, Sophie Plays Hooky, All Star Doula Service, Arbonne, Stampin' Up and Creative Memories.
"We'll have a big event full of vendors, photography, hats and props, all sorts of stuff," McCauley said. "It's going to be really cool and big."
McCauley said the idea for Studio Share was born with some friends who wanted to get together to share a studio. Even with several people splitting the cost, however, the overhead was too much and everyone else had to back out. Instead of giving up on the idea, McCauley expanded her vision of what the studio could be.
"So I thought why can't we open it up to everybody?" she said. "Instead of just our little group of three or four people, what if I just do it myself and I open it up to everybody?"
While she foresees the winter months being busier in the studio than summer due to the weather, McCauley, who is a birth, baby and maternity photographer, would like to offer a photography class for moms this summer to get more people indoors, at least for a little while.
"Not advanced photography, but just helping moms achieve better results with their own kids and stuff," she said.
Considering she wasn't able to find any other businesses to base Studio Share on, things have been going extremely well for McCauley. She said the Minot community has really supported her new idea, and will hopefully come to love shooting in the new studio as much as she does.
"The response has been incredible. I grow on Facebook by five 'likes' a day - I went from nothing to, now I'm up to 100," McCauley said. "Every response that I've had has been so positive. ... I think that it's absolutely the best that I can hope for, especially going into the summer season because you can shoot outside."
"I have no reason to think it's not going to be insanely successful," she added. "I'm already completely spoiled by it, and I think other people will be, too."