What’s better than a location, literally, right in your own backyard? Photographer Sophie Crew created just that after moving into a new home with a separate two-story space begging to be made into an extension of her business.
The studio is a reflection of Sophie’s work and style with the soothing peachy tones coupled with the beautiful pops of color. She handcrafted many of the creature comforts found in a home, including a changing table and space for clients to stash the items they need to keep baby secure and happy.
What inspired you to have a studio space to call your own? For years, I would travel to clients’ homes for their posed newborn sessions, and it would take such a long time to just get the car loaded and unloaded. I use a puck beanbag with extra stuffing, which takes up the entire trunk of a car. I found myself only bringing a fraction of my props, blankets and accessories to sessions because it wouldn’t all fit. Once at my client’s home, it was sometimes difficult to find a space with that perfect natural light, so sometimes I’d be working on a client’s bed or couch, which was sometimes less than ideal. I think I once photographed a newborn on a kitchen table (with the beanbag of course)!
I decided that since photography was becoming not just a part-time job for me anymore, but an actual full time profession, I needed to make a change for my business. My first studio was a small shared space in La Jolla, California, with amazing views of the ocean. The location was beautiful, but a bit far of a drive for me every morning. I truly loved it, and although it was tiny, it was a perfect starter studio. I shared that space with a wedding makeup artist who had found me through Google, and had reached out to me as she found herself paying a hefty monthly rent. But because she was only in the building for appointments, it left the space unused most days of the week. I moved in, and we split our space in half; it worked out wonderfully; I held most of my sessions in the mornings and she held her appointments in the afternoons. It was a win-win!
Tell us about the location of your space and how you found it. I had been in my the La Jolla studio for almost two years when I started looking to purchase a new home for my family. Living in San Diego, living spaces rarely include any additional room to have a separate business, so a home studio was never a consideration. Plus for most of San Diego County, it’s illegal to conduct business from your home (clients cannot come to your home and pay you for business conducted there), so I was definitely not going to go that route. Then our real estate agent mentioned she had a home that would be perfect for us, and that it had space for a photography studio for me.
Before touring it, I imagined it would just be a small bonus room in the house. I was wrong. The previous owners had built a two-story addition on the side of the house, complete with plumbing for a small sink. It was perfect! I realized it could be my photography studio. I immediately started imagining what we could do to the space to really transform it.
What makes this studio space superior to your last space? For starters, instead of a 45-minute commute each way, it’s only a 5-second stroll from the inside of my home. The gas I’m saving is huge. Plus it’s my own space, so it’s ok if I don’t tidy up and organize my props right away — I eventually do, but I don’t need to worry about having to tidy up for someone I’d be sharing a space with. And I love my new studio because I can use a mix of natural and studio lighting as well.
How did you approach organizing the space? My studio is a two-story space, so I keep my downstairs entry as a welcoming space, with a changing table on the counter, water bottles and granola bars at arm’s reach. Clients can come in and unload their diaper bags, park the stroller in the corner and none of it will interfere with our shooting space. Moms undress and lightly swaddle their newborns upon arrival downstairs, and if baby wakes, I have mom feed baby if necessary. If siblings come along, I make sure to capture those sibling poses downstairs at the beginning of the session, as well as any family shots too. I use natural light from my large sliding glass door. As a backdrop, we built a cool wooden barn door that hangs on one of the walls, and proves a neat, rustic backdrop for family and sibling shots.
Once baby is ready, I have mom and dad come upstairs with me to the newborn shooting space. Upstairs has the most amazing natural light, but unfortunately, as I shoot low to the ground, the light is never right up there, so I use my studio light, which I love. I have my newborn stations set up along my two long walls — beanbag and shaggy rug stations are against one wall, and two different “wood” walls where I shoot my prop shots are along the opposite wall. I simply keep the studio light in the center of the room and turn it to whichever setup I am using. It’s pretty convenient! I use the downstairs area for cake smashes and toddler sessions. We use a variety of seamless paper backgrounds as well as the rustic barn door backdrop.
What inspired you in designing the studio? I knew I wanted to go along with the bright, light feel from the natural light coming through the windows, and I wanted to give the studio a warm, snuggly, newborn feel, so I opted for a light peachy color for the walls. My logo colors are orange and turquoise blue, so I incorporated those bolder colors in cute frames from Organic Bloom, as well as little accents here and there from T.J. Maxx and Ikea. I wanted to keep the upstairs walls as bare as possible as to not have the space seem too crowded or overwhelming. I wanted the newborn shooting space to be mellow and calming, and not overwhelmed by art or accessories. There are already tons of blankets, props and accessories that we play with during our session, so extra would be too overwhelming.
Paint on main wall: Fire Mist by Behr
Accent wall: Burning Coals by Behr
Rolling Cart: Ikea
Posing beanbag: Posey Pillow