Austhorpe Photography Studio Refurb (Which Almost Never Happened!)
The Studio Refurb (Which Almost Never Happened!)
Take a look inside Austhorpe Photography’s brand new studio in Garforth, Leeds.
Where it all Started
In September 2018, after my busiest summer in business yet, I decided I was ready to take a leap and rent a studio space. I had enjoyed working from home but my gorgeous props, maternity gowns and studio equipment had started to take over my house.
My enthusiasm was dampened though when I started searching for suitable properties and found that they were either too small, too expensive, too far from home or totally impractical for my clients.
Then I stumbled upon a shop just 5 minutes from my home, on a little parade of shops, with parking directly outside. It needed some TLC, but it definitely had potential.
I called the agent and found out it was within my budget, so naturally I did a little happy dance and then started adding studio inspiration to my ‘Dream Studio’ Pinterest board - I was beyond excited.
The First Viewing
Everything was going so well, until I viewed it…
The property wasn’t listed online (the agent said he was old school) so I had absolutely no idea what condition the interior would be in. When the agent opened the door (and a million spiders scurried away) I felt a mix of horror and delight. The space had so, so much potential. It would work perfectly as a family photography studio. But it would need A LOT of work to make it usable and a nice space to welcome clients into.
The Big Decision
I didn’t hesitate in agreeing to rent the property - I knew the chances of finding another space like this, and so close to my own home, would be pretty slim.
My excitement started to wane though when it became very clear that the landlord didn’t want to spend a single penny improving the former newsagents (which hadn’t been used in nearly a decade) and I would have to spend thousands and thousands of pounds refurbishing the property and after the 3 year lease agreement I would be in a very vulnerable position.
I was so torn. My amazing partner, who has supported me in every aspect of my business from day one, told me it was totally my decision. I felt sick. Did I take the risk or walk away? In the end, it was my solicitor who opened my eyes when he reviewed the lease and called into question a number of ‘erroneous’ clauses.
After reaching a total stalemate between my solicitor and that of the landlords, it was beginning to look like this just wasn’t meant to be.
I decided to walk away. But before I totally cut my losses, I asked if the landlord would be willing to sell the property instead. After lots of phone calls and emails, we finally agreed a purchase price.
The Dreaded Bank Manager
I remember trying to secure my first ever mortgage during the credit crunch. It was very challenging (to say the least) but no where near as how hard as it was trying to organise a commercial mortgage for the studio.
I won’t bore you with the details but the process took 9 MONTHS. You can literally grow a baby in the time it took me to buy my studio which is quite poetic when you consider I specialise in newborn photography.
I like clean lines, open spaces and white. Lots and lots of white. I wanted to create a space that would give me plenty of room to shoot in but equally give my clients and their families lots of space to relax and enjoy their session.
We have comfortable seating, a drinks fridge, Nespresso machine, snacks and treats all for clients to enjoy.
The studio is fully air-conditioned meaning we can keep new babies toasty and expectant mums cool.
My favourite part of the studio is actually in the back! I love the way the washroom came together and I happily spend hours editing away at my desk and occasionally glancing over at my beautiful props which are all neatly displayed and ready for clients to look through during their sessions.
What’s Next for the Studio
I’ll be adding lots and lots of wall art to the studio walls and probably expanding my prop collection (I’m addicted to buying gorgeous maternity gowns and tiny baby rompers!). Follow me on Instagram to see regular studio updates on my stories.
More importantly, I plan to use the studio as a safe space for my new mums. A place where my clients can visit for a monthly coffee morning, chat about the highs and lows of parenting, seek advice and feel part of a community that showers them with love and support.
I will be hosting my first coffee morning in February and well as cohosting several events throughout the year. Join my mailing list HERE, so you don’t miss out!