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5 Creative places to shoot when you don't have a studio


5 creative inside places shoot when you don’t have a studio 


Having a studio space is expensive. Believe me, I know! 


Last year before we moved into our house I looked into it seriously for my own business. I really wanted to see if it would be worthwhile to have a studio space.

and when I mean worthwhile, I mean having the ability to shoot enough and make enough to cover my expenses.


I pretty much looked into every place around Hampton Roads area that I could see online. Everything was looking into about $800-$1000 a month for a small space of around 400 square ft (about the size of an average living room.) then a lot of the places wanted utility clause and electricity and other things that would’ve been additional fees.


So I did some math and thought man I seriously need to have at least five sessions at $200 a session a month just to cover my bare minimum expenses. I’m a full-time mom with three kids so I do around five sessions a month anyway as a part-time basis. 

For me $1000 a month is all of the fees and fines and going to having an actual business with insurance marketing clause website costs and other equipment that I just need to have for basic needs. 


A lot of retirees in my area were in the same boat. Multiple artists share buildings together or share rooms together in a building. 


But again for me spending $400- 800 a month ina shared photo space that I would have to work around somebody else’s schedule wasn’t something that I wanted to get into.


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So then I started to thinking out-of-the-box and see what places that I could use in my area for photos.





I love shooting at museums and other places that allow artists.  

Call ahead to some local diners or mom-and-pop places that would allow photographers to come in. Most smaller restaurants that aren’t  franchised would love the publicity!

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My favorite local museum to shoot at is the Chrysler Museum which is free to come in as long as I don’t bring a lot of light sets or props. 

A lot of coffee shops in my local area like your or hummingbird macaroons also allow for photographers as long as you call ahead.

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My second favorite place to shoot is at the greenhouse or tropical plant house at the Norfolk botanical  Gardens.


Even though there is technically a photographers fee of $150 to shoot at the botanical gardens, if your person is a member then they can get one free photo shoot for free as long as you call ahead and arrange a time to get a permit. Though, when  I was shooting there with a couple I totally saw four of the photographers in there without permits just saying. 

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Look into a Airbnb or a hotel that allows for you to use it for business purposes because that is a really creative way to use a beautiful space on a low budget.

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Look into some local area rental studios- like the city of Chelsea Commons, back Bay photographystudio Hampton Roads, or Rent a set studios. Many of them have lights included in the cost or even big, natural Light. 



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If you have a crazy- kid-filled  house like me me- maybe you form a relationship with somebody who has a really nice house with good lighting to shoot at! 

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As a bonus, you can always use a local thrift shop, and indoor mini golf place, and ice-skating rink, the mall, a bowling alley or any other funky places that you see around town. 

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Always good to call ahead and ask permission but many places would be very happy to accommodate.

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So there you go I just gave you five creative ideas and places that you can find inside during the cold winter months to create art and two work on your craft without sacrificing your business! 




Christal Marshall is a mom of three, photographer, videographer, homeschooler and just a straight hustler.


Completely self-taught and started her photo business with only a $400 camera in 2011.


She was voted top 20 wedding photographers in VA in 2016, 2018 and 2019. She has been featured over 50 times in various different publications.


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10% of our time and talents are dedicated to helping local nonprofits and needy families who need our services at little to no cost. 
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