There’s a lot to consider when choosing a photography studio for your project, from big capabilities to little details (like where the coffee and food will be located!). Here’s a quick list of some of the most important things to look for:
- Does the studio—and staff—have video expertise in addition to photography?
- Can the team (and space) support an omnichannel shoot, capturing content for every possible channel and format on time and within budget?
- Do they have enough room for props, especially if your project requires storage of big items like furniture or vehicles? Is it easy to get large props into the studio? (This can be a pickle in studios that have freight elevators or limited parking.)
- How conveniently located is the studio? Can talent and product get there quickly, easily, and relatively inexpensively?
- Are there good restaurants—AND A STARBUCKS—nearby? (What can we say? We have priorities.)
These are all critical. But there’s another thing we believe every great studio should have: an in-house styling team. Don’t get us wrong, we love and rely on freelancers for many projects, and we know it’s not always practical to keep stylists on the payroll. But a full-service studio committed to exceptional client service will not only have a roster of great freelance talent available, it will take the extra step of hiring in-house stylists who bring a wide variety of experience to the table.
Here’s why we’re fans of our own in-house styling team, and why it’s worth working with a studio that has one on your next project.
Their institutional knowledge is second to none.
Naturally, all stylists develop strong relationships with their clients. An in-house team is no different—but they do bring a new level of partnership to the work. How? They know the studio’s business, too. They know how the studio has solved problems in the past that might be similar to yours, and they apply that learning on the spot. They know who to turn to at the company for help with virtually anything. Plus, an in-house team usually includes experts in all kinds of styling (at Kreber, we have a kitchen and bath expert, certified interior decorators, and soft goods specialists on staff). So, if you’re faced with shooting something new and different but aren’t sure where to turn, an in-house team usually has the resources and know-how to help, fast.
They know the studio space—and the props—inside out.
Kreber operates inside more than 200,000 square feet of studio space. And our stylists know every square inch. They know where that unbelievably perfect vase is in the prop library, where an on-figure stylist can go to find a polka dot ribbon, and where the tools are to fix a broken product (which just happens to be the ONLY SAMPLE OF THAT PRODUCT YOU HAVE IN THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE). They know where the natural light is, which backdrops are the closest color match to your inspiration, which wall and floor sets best fit your room scene, who among the employees has the best potted plants to use as props, and where to go shopping within a 100-mile radius for anything your shoot might need, ever. And that’s a huge relief when you’re heads down on set for 12 hours a day.
They're available when you need them.
Couldn’t book your long-time stylist due to internal schedule changes or unforeseen delays? Count on the in-house team. (Ask them to share a portfolio of work relevant to your vertical to put your mind at ease about their qualifications, taste level, and comparable experience.) Have a last-minute project that only needs styling for one or two shots? Consider it handled, with zero travel and limited back-and-forth. In-house stylists are on site, all the time, planning, purging, and preparing for any projects on your plate, big or small.
They help keep costs down.
With no travel expenses and a paycheck cared for by the studio (their fees should be worked into your estimate at a reasonable day rate), an in-house styling team can have a significant impact on your budget—allowing you to divert funds to other priorities. For one thing, they bring that aforementioned in-depth understanding of how the studio works, saving you and your team time before, during, and after a shoot.
Second—because they know the studio and its props so well—they look for (and usually find) props in house first, rather than shopping for new items right away. (By contrast, a freelancer unfamiliar with the studio's offerings may start at stores before searching the prop room). The practice of shopping from existing props not only saves money that might be spent on new items, it also reduces the time spent shopping for and returning props.
Freelance stylists are an important and valuable part of the photography and video business. But an in-house team can take a lot of the guesswork out of working with a studio, whether it’s a new partnership for you or one you’ve maintained for a long time. Because their employer offers them a variety of experiences, encourages the refinement of their skills, and offers a steady, reliable stream of work, in-house stylists are some of the most dependable and quick-thinking employees anywhere. And while they do most of their work behind the scenes, you’ll feel the magic of it nonetheless.