The Plan

I was a toastmaster. I spent many evenings over the years working on my public speaking. My first couple of years was spent getting over the fear of standing up in public and giving a speech or presentation. I eventually got through this fear when I realized that almost everybody wants you to succeed. Why? Because no one wants to sit through a bad presentation. The Toastmasters group I was involved in helped me to succeed. Through their constant encouragement, feedback, and support, I became a better speaker. And my success also became their success because they got to listen to speeches that got better each time.

So how do I succeed with my new situation? Well the first thing was to jump in with both feet. After all, when you are standing at the edge of the pool, you are going to get wet, whether you step in one foot at a time or with both feet. The difference is that when you jump in with both feet, you will need to learn how to swim sooner and faster.

So I was in the pool with both feet. Learning to swim meant figuring out a plan. That’s what I need to do right now, sit down and figure out a plan. You know, where am I going, what do I need to do to get there, that sort of thing. Then, I will need to evaluate my resources and figure out how I am going to apply them to make this work. There we go, that’s what I need to do right now – or so I thought.

Then all of a sudden I hear this sound. Oh yes, of course. It’s time for lunch and a nap. Not for me but for my 18month old son. Although some food and a nap seemed like a good idea for papa as well. Success here came easily, I cooked the lunch, gave it to my son, he ate what he wanted, threw the rest on the floor, and the dog enjoyed lunch to. Then off to bed for a nap. And there it was, my first success at running my studio from home.

Turns out, coming up with a plan was not actually the first step. The first step is actually setting priorities.

My First Day

I began photographing professionally shortly after I got married. My main focus was on weddings and then family portraits. Being newly married myself, I felt that I knew what engaged couples where looking for in a wedding photographer, I fit their age demographic, I enjoyed it, and I could make a decent living doing it. I had a small store front studio, and on and off, a staff of two. This was a great arrangement and for a long time this space worked out very well.

Eventually though, life in its usual way, stepped in and changed a few things. My wife and I had recently bought a new house – one that was large enough to accommodate our growing family. We had one son and with another one on the way, our old house would have been too small. But along with the new, larger house, came a new larger mortgage. And along with the new baby came new responsibilities of making sure that he (yes, we had a second boy) was well looked after.

So we tried the nanny thing. When that did not work out, we tried again, then again, and the again one more time. Clearly the nanny thing was not going to work out so another plan was needed. After some discussion with my wife (btw – we are still married some 37 years later), we decided that it was best if I could see if I could run my studio from home.

The thinking was that because I was a wedding and family photographer, most of my shooting time was on weekends and on location. The times that I actually needed a camera room was minimal, so when I did need one, I could rent the space for a day. This meant that my wife could continue to grow her career, I could continue to grow mine as a photographer, I would be available for the boys, and bonus, the rent that was formerly being spent on the store front studio could now be applied to the house mortgage.

So that was it. I closed the doors to the old studio and moved it home.

Monday morning after the move came around. I had taken my oldest son to school and I was sitting on the couch in the living room with my youngest son who was about 18 months old at the time. I was surrounded by all the gear from the old studio, a mountain of file boxes, some client work that still needed doing, and the knowledge that I would need to significantly change the way that I ran my life.

This was in the early 1990’s. What I did not realize at the time, but came to be of significant importance to me, was that I had just become one of the first stay at home dads.

Welcome to The Micro Studio

Welcome to the Micro Studio. The section of this site is about building a photography studio / creative space in a small area. Many photographers stress about not being able to have access to a large studio to create their images in. The goal here is to help you make a creative space with what you have available.

Originally, I started with a smallish studio. I then moved to a large commercial studio, then eventually moved my studio into my home. I have learned many lessons along the way and I want to share those lessons with you in this blog series.

The long term goal is to compile this series into an ebook . I do not know when that will happen because I have a lot of things that I want to share. I am thinking that it is going to be a while before the ebook is available, so I think for now, it would be best to read the posts as they come out.

I am also curious to get your feedback and questions. If you have something to add to any of the posts, please send me an email.

Len Grinke, MPA