Shooting in SMALL Spaces

October 10, 2016 Uncategorized

Today we will shoot live from Nikki’s Seattle Garage Studio and explore small space and light and how Nikki is making this business a great success in modest surroundings.

Nikki Clossers 300sq foot Studio in Seattle Washington (A converted garage)
Nikki Closser’s (300 square foot / 27.87  square meters ) Studio in Seattle Washington (A converted garage)

My first Studio in 2001 was a converted country garage and was 63 square meters / 678.13 square feet–over twice Nikki’s space.

Image below: I shot for the first 3 months with ugly aluminum rolling doors and would roll them up before my clients came. When I could afford to, I put in the frosted glass doors that you can see in this picture. It took me 3 months to save the $5000 I needed to do this, but it was so worth it. I felt like a real professional studio and I affectionately called it GARAGE GLAMOUR. Everything in this studio was created, gifted, borrowed and picked up off the sidewalk it was all painted white by me. The birth of my brand and business started here. I was so proud of this space and I cleaned it everyday like it was my palace. The next purchase was a toilet and then I was full steam ahead.

My first garage studio
My first garage studio in my country home

When I think of the challenges of my studio back then, the biggest problem I faced (outside of having zero budget) was the low ceiling–7 foot.  Even Nikki’s small studio has that nice high center ceiling and it significantly changes the distribution of light. Keeping the studio clean and clutter free is a big challenge but a very important one for me and I need a nice clear clean space at all times. I always prepare my studio both professionally and energetically. I truly put myself  in the room as present and giving as I can be. I try to fill myself with excitement before every shoot so that I can empower and connect and serve with all my heart & soul.

I have seen people start portrait business’s in lounges and living rooms and garages and local parks it doesn’t really matter, one truth remains. I have rolled up those doors and swept out the leaves I have sprayed air freshener on fake flowers and had people tell me they could smell the beautiful roses from across the room, I have done a $3800 sale on a laptop at starbucks YOUR CLIENTS JUST WANT TO FEEL GOOD and seen and important and ANYBODY is capable of providing that no matter  what their humble modest studio give with GREAT LOVE

Logistically there are some hacks and basic tips,  such as cutting down the polyboards and vflats to fit in this height, shooting with a 35mm and 50mm lens, as obviously space is an issue. Shooting any kind of full length images or larger group shots (extending backgrounds in PS) and choosing small stackable prop/furniture pieces.

Watch the full video in our education library: Shooting in Small Spaces.


  1. I am a fine art photographer…I only do portraits when I am inspired with someone’s interesting face, or a dog or cat or child. I have a new space that I am preparing which is my single garage. I ordered frosted glass doors which are coming soon and will be painting the whole space white – just like I paint everything. I am doing composites in photoshop – my office is a different room in this new house we bought in Cannon Beach Oregon. I love learning and love checking in on Sue Bryce Education. I do not want to set up a portrait business – just want to do my thing – and sell it of course. Could you please address marketing fine art photography? I suck at marketing but I do have an amazing husband who does my websites and is willing to do some of the marketing for me. I do pretty well on Facebook, which I love. I was sorry to see that I missed your webinar this morning (I was painting in my garage) so I hope you will have this in the archives soon.
    Sue, I think you are amazing! I first saw you at Creative Live and have been following you ever since.
    I love photographing people – took lots of courses from Greg Gorman – at his place in Mendocino and learned so much from him. He does not teach about marketing and that is my downfall – so again, any chance of you addressing that for fine art photographers? Thanks – I’ll keep watching everything you do!

  2. a few years ago watching 28 Days I saw your Images of your studio and fell head over heals with it and said I want what She is having! you have ever since been my Inspiration for falling through with my photography and my little white Studio! thank you so much for being my teacher Miss Bryce you lift me up! thank you xo

  3. I am really curious to take some more ideas from this, because i have a small living room with low low light.. love you all… for what you do… thanks