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Humble beginings

Updated: Sep 15, 2019

So this has been in the works for a long time now, I’ve wanted my own studio again.

I’ve been in photographry for a long time now but since I left my Kensington studio in 2015 I’ve been shooting on location or babies in their homes, this isn’t always very practical or allowing much room for creativity, I have an absolute mountain of props, lighting, backdrops and camera gear that is a pain to lug around and if you’ve met me you know I’m hardly a weight lifter!

So here we are at the start of 2019, the dream has been on the back burner for months while I work part time in data & admin but today I get the push I need to make this my full time focus again, my contract is not going to be renewed aka – I’m fired, who would have thought I’d actually be this happy?

I’ve been looking at commercial real estate listings here and there for months and couldn’t actually believe how cheap they were in my area, there was one that had been vacant for a long time that id had my eye on, walking distance from home and super secure, the anxiety was almost unbearable as I called the agent to enquire, it was still availiable and I can inspect it tomorrow!!!

The space is everything I want, it’s perfect, can I apply? How do I negotiate a commercial lease?! It’s so different and daunting, my previous studio space was in a big old mill converted into tiny artist spaces and owned/leased by other artists with this in mind, this was going to be all mine!

It’s been about a month since I started paperwork for the space and today I get the keys, I have no idea what I’m doing byt i’m doing it and holy crap this is real, I’m actually doing it!!!

It’s so empty, my blank canvas, so much room for activities and creativity and where do I even start?! I have a vague idea of what I want, I guess I’ll just mock some sketches, measure some rooms and use my backdrop stands to see how the walls will look and ensure everything will fit, I know I want a waiting/presentation lounge, private office/storage area and a Cyclorama shooting space (what’s that?) as the most important feature, I’ll also add I’ve never really built anything in my life and am totally gonna wing DIY-ing it.

First things first, my element, designing my new logo, what will I name the studio?! I hope this is the hardest part because it. Is. Hard!

We are named, but it’s a secret for now… logo is designed and broken down into small elements, I probably have more important things to focus on when opening a new business but this is funner.

I’ve had this vinyl cutter for years now and It’s unfortunately had little use but today we’re throwing it in the deep end and making the stickers for the front window.

Who knew this would require so much math?!

Now if I had hindsight I’d have not jumped into this the week I lost my job, I got only a few weeks notice my contract was ending and had no savings behind me for this, luckily at the time I had just started seeing a financial councilor, Marina from Good Money Morwell, this absolute angel made these walls happen with a small grant toward the building materials.

It’s only been a few days but everything has been purchased and the wall frames are together! Not to brag but I think I did a pretty good job…

Not perfectly straight, some of the wood I received was bowed, but it’s sturdy and the plasterboard is attached, I can probably hide the unevenness with plaster or moulding.

Joining plasterboard! I’m learning so much from youtube! It’s actually easier to work with than I thought it would be, I could totally make this a side hustle…

Ok some lessons learnt, some things have had to be redone, some have broken, mainly my body, I’m gonna have muscles after this!

I’ve left myself a crawl space, I kind of already regret and hate this as I feel super claustrophobic in there and if I ever gain weight I wont be able to get in but it allows me to be able to change up my display window without taking shooting space away, letting unwanted light in or being an eyesore. Stealth 1000.

Now for the tricky part, the curve of the cyclorama, if you don’t know what that is and how essential they are to portraiture you can read about them here.

At this point I’ve exhausted my finances, researching though I shouldn’t need much for this, if I can get a few bits of wood on the cheap it’s totally do-able and I know exactly where I can source some!

I’ve had this old bed base out the back of my place for months waiting till someone can help me take it to the tip, just chillin, full of useful cheap wood begging to be repurposed!

This is probably the most expensive part of the cyclo, the jigsaw needed to cut the MDF shapes for the frame, I’ve also never used one before…

No limbs lost, but one mighty fine frame created, again, super proud of myself, someone’s gotta be!

Seriously though, this thing is sturdy! You could skate it, but please don’t…

All the high powered building stuff is done!!!! I’m relieved but at the same time it was actually super fun, kind of makes me want to buy a house and renovate and stuff, but also $$$

Time for painting!

Not to prime is a crime

So many coats! I really wanted to invest in a premium paint, something very washable to keep bright and people will be walking on it, touching it and it will be in all my photos! Matte finish as it will have lights directed at it and I can’t have that in my photographs, will return and review how this paint has worked for the cyclo after it’s had a few clients through it…

The last final touches! These awesome MDF shapes from the new Kaisercraft in Midvalley are so damn cheap I can’t even believe it, 3 for the main wall but I also bought a few smaller frames and such to use as props, will deffinately be getting more!

The adjacent wall is my pride and joy, my private collection which I have been building for many years or vintage cameras, my ode to the history of photography, my appreciation of film and how far the technology has come!

The stickers were the first thing I did in here but I’d purposely left off the studio name, coz mystery, today they go up and no more secrets, we are Arcade Aperture!

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