Creating a photo studio to serve commercial product photography needs of Northern Virginia businesses.
Today I have the honor to announce that I am opening my photo studio in Northern Virginia. Like many photographers, I started out working in my basement. Today I’m sitting in the center of 1,100 square feet of studio and office space which is just a short drive from the cities of Stafford, Manassas, and Fairfax.
Now, graphic designers, advertising agencies, MARCOM firms, businesses small, medium, and large will have a studio location much closer to their offices. Some of my clients hire me to photograph their one-of-a-kind jewelry. Others have me photograph bathtubs, faucets, and even bathroom appliances for their print and online catalogs. Others require photographic composites from photography and retouching.
This space became necessary after a client informed me that I would be photographing bathtubs. I have been able to photograph a great many things in my basement to this point but bathtubs were going to be impossible to move. They would have to go through two gates, across a multi-level patio, get unpacked, move into position, light, photograph, move back to a crate, pack, and move back out over the patio, through the same two gates, to the driveway at the drop of a hat every time a large box truck or tractor trailer showed up at my front door.
What would the neighbors think?
At the front of the photo studio is a 13 X 13 ft. garage door large enough to facilitate the entry of tall or wide merchandise. The studio has a large space for photographing people full length or large products. A small car, motorcycle, sport vehicle or other similar size product can fit. The ceiling is 18 ft. high!
Let’s continue the tour to the area I call the “Master Command Center” where I will frequently tether my camera and shoot directly to the computer. The captions describe the rest of the space in detail.
I’m officially a “Mom & Pop” business
My wife and I researched a location that could be used for my work and as a place where she could display her handmade art jewelry. She can share the front office with me to sell her necklaces, earrings, and bracelets—and yes, I am her photographer.
Searching for home
We wanted to stay in Prince William County despite many well-wisher’s recommendations to place it closer to Washington DC, Crystal City, Arlington, and Alexandria. The way I look at it, clients who work in these areas have a great benefit; the open road as they drive South and grin at the morning Northbound traffic while they zip down I-95 South to Exit 158 onto Prince William Parkway before their favorite song finishes. And at the end of the day, wow! They’re already in or near their home or they simply drive once again, against traffic to go Northbound. Once again, they can be thankful as they pass the Southbound traffic. Isn’t that great! Working with Mark Gilvey Creative will put a smile on your face, keep you happy and on time!
What’s not to like about driving against traffic and getting home within 30 minutes?
We looked at other locations that were somewhat close to major centers but again, they just didn’t look like the right places to have to guide a client too. We even engaged with commercial realtor Bill Burke, who was a great help in tracking down possible locations to review. It was like looking for a new house to move into all over again.
In the end, my wife won (because the wife always wins) and we ended up, very happily, in Great Oaks Business Parks just behind the Woodbridge Home Depot, Global Food, and Kol’s department store. The studio is conveniently located near great restaurants and shopping just one-half mile from Potomac Mills in Woodbridge, VA. It is just one mile or so away from Route I-95.
But wait, there’s more!
On Wednesday, November 9th (the day after election day) my wife, Marie-Antoinette and I will hold a ribbon cutting and open house at the studio in conjunction with the Prince William Chamber of Commerce. More details to come soon.
The team that made it happen
I WANT TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN FOR YOU: Kari Paige (PS Business Parks) is the leasing agent who got us into the space. With no previous leasing contracts under my belt and such a convenient location to be in; I never really realized until now how lucky my wife and I were to get the space.
WE’RE DOING THIS BY THE BOOK: Jane Smith of Carluzzo, Rochkind, and Smith P.C. who helped me understand the really long lease that Kari handed me with a smile. And to one of my clients; Jonas Cooke who insisted I get an attorney to read it and help me understand it.
Let’s MAKE IT GREY, OR MAYBE GRAY: For the color of the studio, I knew I wanted it white and grey with a black ceiling. But I was thinking of adding an actual color accent as well. For this, I called in the assistance of one of my former art directors Monirom Southakakoumar. While under Monirom’s direction at an ad agency in Washington DC, his design sense helped me develop a more strategic approach to color usage. He also influenced the number of die-cast sports cars that sit on top of my desks and printers and the half inch I push all my books back on the library shelf units 😉
And a friend I went to photography school with who went on to design spaces for fashion houses and photo studios in New York city; Patrick Disanto. Patrick is responsible for driving me crazy (during photography school) with all-nighters photographing models on the streets of Pittsburgh. He talks so far out of his right brain it’s hard to understand what he’s saying, but that just makes his ideas so much more cutting edge—I just have to be open-minded!
But seriously; their input was instrumental in selecting the wall colors, furniture color and various details most people might overlook.
THE ART OF COMMERCIAL BUILDING: I called in Capital Drywall to finish putting the mud on the drywall and painting the walls, ceiling, and floors. Gerry Sanchez and his team did a superb job despite the fact that I looked over their shoulder on a daily basis—at least I provided them all the tasty drinks they could want!
MORE POWER MR. SPOCK: Chris and Josh at R&M Electric (6.4mb) installed all the electrical outlets I could ever want; 30 sockets! No more gang boxes for me (ok, that’s not entirely accurate.) I was so happy with their work, I treated them to lunch and then I painted over all their hard work so you can’t see it—LOL!
Developing the space
CLEANUP IN AISLE 2809: The former resident of the space had a furniture restoration business. It was literally a bare warehouse with a lot of resin caked on the floor and partially completed drywall with more dust than I care to mention. Before Gerry and his team got started; I spent two days on my hands and knees becoming “one with the studio” as I scraped and stripped the resin off the floor in 100˚ heat. The blue cooling towels that Harbor Freight sells really keep you cool.
MAKE IT REAL (in 3D): I used a web-based application called RoomSketcher to design the space, right down to the tables and bookshelves you’ve seen in the photos. It was invaluable to me to be able to pre-visualize what it would look like, what furniture I needed, and where to put things. I made renders of several views. Then, once the space was empty, I photographed the interior in its vacant state and created Photoshop composites based on the 3D renders to try and emulate them.
Download my Studio Painting Guide PDF (6.4mb.) It contains all my notes, renders, diagrams, and photo composites. It’s a work of art if I may say so. Keep in mind, none of the photos you see in this PDF were taken after the build-out was completed. This was all done before and while the painting was taking place.
A big step in life
As I’ve been telling people, to me, this is as big as a marriage or having a child. It’s a big step for me and I hope you’ll join me for the ribbon cutting and open house to celebrate! The event will be held on Wednesday, November 9, 2016, from 4 – 9 PM.