Studio Space Transformation

Studio Space Transformation

The new Matty Photography studio is finally at a point where I feel good about calling it “finished.” Sure, there are many little things left to be done, but I can take a deep breath and switch the majority of my time back to my photo work, and all those little things will fall into place as we keep chuggin’ along. I’ve been waiting for this post for a long time, about 10 months if we are keeping track. As things ramp up in the studio, it actually feels a bit odd doing photo work in it since I’ve spent so much time cleaning, organizing, and polishing all the studio details. I spent over a week alone on the latter installing all of the lighting and building the custom antique chandelier in the foyer. In case you were wondering, spending 12 hours with your hands above your head while balancing atop a 17 foot latter is not the most fun way to spend day after day. Of course getting any kind of business location setup is nothing short of exhausting, but a 3,000 sq ft space with 20 foot tall ceilings is a monster sponge of time, energy, and money.

There is a ton of history in the unique space. The studio is only part of a much larger building, built in the 1910’s, it was the original home of The Tacoma News Tribune. The very space the studio is now located was the paper press room. See the photo below, taken in 1925 of Tribune workers hard at it. The print press machine in the photo sits where the main shooting space is today. As you can imagine (and see by the photo) it was a very dirty job, ink went everywhere. It doesn’t take much looking today to still find a little cranny in the space where you can manage to find a little ink residue. As you can see in the bulk of the photos, half of the floor is concrete, the other wood, and that is because it is vaulted floor (where the wood is) and the area underneath serviced the print presses. In fact, there is still a 30 foot long, 4 foot diameter ink tank still housed under the floor. Pretty cool stuff, right?!

I’m sure you guys are tired of hearing me talk about the new studio for the last few months and actually want to see it, right? So here we go, the fun part, the before and after photos. The before photos of the space were right at the point of when I signed my lease for the space, and then a painful 8 month wait while the remodeling took place, before the moving in and details could begin. I hope you enjoy seeing the photo transformation as much as I did.

Here is the front of the space, standing in the foyer looking towards the back. I’ve designed the space to remain as open as when I first viewed the space. I loved the openness and I didn’t want to ruin that with a bunch of walls. Of course a photo studio definitely requires it’s privacy at times, especially with so many street side windows at the front of the space, so I dreamed up using high-tension wires for curtains to run between beams and walls, creating private sections for the main shooting space. There are two sets of 10 feet tall curtains, one white, one black, allowing me to use white to create a super soft shooting environment, and the black to well… blackout the space. They both work perfectly. When not in use, the curtains can stay open to keep the space more “event friendly.”

This next set is from the rear of the studio, looking towards the front. If it looks like a long ways to the front, it is, from an angle I bet it’s about an 80 foot shot. Notice the lovely fluorescent lighting… yuck! Not only was it about the worst lighting imaginable, it hung down about 5 feet, kinda killing the high ceiling experience. I put that to a stop pretty fast by installing high-tension wire track lighting, which match the same theme as the curtains. I’d say aside from the paint that the lighting change was the biggest night-and-day difference.

Here is a perspective from inside the “main shooting space.” Though it may not look like it from a non-photographer eye, a lot of thought went into the overall design of the studio. Everything, down the to paint color, was selected with functionality in-mind. For example, the main shoot area uses a completely neutral grey color on the walls, so that any bouncing light that happens to hit the wall and then a subject does not pickup any color casts. So as cool as I wanted to space to look, it had to carry a lot of function, ensuring every corner of the space could be used for photographs. All of the decor and furniture can easily be shifted and moved to make-way for new photo sets.

Among the more substantial parts of the remodel were the bathrooms, which push-out into the rear of the space, along with the loft office that looks out over the space, complete with spiral staircase.

The official studio grand opening event is taking place at 7pm on January 11th. I’d love to see you all here. We are going to have food and drinks, as well as a fun little photo contest and some laughs. I’m very excited for the new year and what it will bring to the new space!