Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Savvy Studio Tours Week~ Day Three

Today’s Studio Tour comes from one of the few men we have had the pleasure of interviewing here on The Savvy Photographer!  I found a video through a google search of Chris Becerra’s amazing studio, and I knew we had to feature him and his studio as part of Studio Week!

Chris Becerra is owner and operator of Becerra Photography in Corvallis, Oregon.  Chris says that he never dreamed of having a studio but it all came together organically and at the right time in his career.

His studio is a mixture of all types of products that are recycled and reused.  This ability to reuse materials he got from old barns makes his studio unique and environmentally friendly.  His unique approach to mixing rustic with a modern studio is what makes his studio a must-see!!

Below is an interview with Chris where he explains how is studio was created.  You will truly be inspired!

How did you become a photographer?  My dad was an art teacher with an emphasis on photography, and I spent hours in the darkroom in our bathroom with him, helping him develop photos.  I went to college and got a degree in teaching History so I did not originally think I would become a photographer.  But when my daughter was born, I realized a teaching salary wasn’t enough.  So I picked up photography on the side.  I started getting lots of weddings and the photography really took off.  Soon after, the school I was teaching at asked me to head up the photography department.  I went back to school and got a Masters of Arts and Interdiciplinary Studies with an emphasis in Photography, Film Studies and Education.  Now I teach Photography classes at Oregon State University where I bring a real world, practical approach to my classes.

How long have you been in business?  5 years

How long have you had your studio? 5 months

What do you photograph?  Weddings have been my focus since the beginning but I am now doing more families, maternity and newborns.  I also just recently started with political campaigns.

Tell us about your studio…
Where is it located?  My studio is located in the college town of Corvallis, Oregon.  The studio is built in an old department store that was turned into a theater, with additional space, in the downtown area of Corvallis.

How would you describe the look of your studio?  Originally I wanted to build my studio in an old barn because I love the rustic look.  I used to drive around, knock on people’s doors and ask if I could convert their barn into a studio.  There were several possibilities but it never worked out.  But a lot of the materials in the studio are from the barns I visited.  So I would describe the look as old and rustic.

Did you enlist the help of a designer or did you design it yourself?  I did everything myself.  I thought about my target market and where they shop.  I asked my wife what her favorite store was and she said Anthropologie.  I went to the mall and asked a few stores if it was possible to take some photos.  There was one store that had this awesome wood wall and I used it as an inspiration for one of the walls in the studio.

Tell us about the different elements in your studio...What are the different types of materials used?  There is corrugated steel metal, old doors from different barns, a wall of wood and reclaimed wood floor throughout.

Where did the materials come from?  Most of the items used are from recycled materials that I got from lots of different places.  Some of the materials came from the barns that I drove by and some of the items came from listings on Craig’s List.  I basically looked all over the place for old wood.  The wood used on the floor was pulled out of a house that was about to be torn down.  The bulk of the items came from a 94-year-old lady’s barn that I met from my days of driving around looking for barns.  She owned several properties and had kept all the doors and windows from these properties.  She gave me these items and I used them on the wall of doors and throughout the rest of the studio.  During the process of creating my studio, she died.  Her caretaker told me that the thing that kept her going for the last weeks of her life was knowing that all her old stuff would live on in my studio.

How many different walls/backdrops do you have within the studio?
There is the corrugated steel wall, the wall of doors, the stips of wood wall with a window and the white wall that I can change the color of with different lighting techniques.

I love the wall of doors!!  Tell us about it…There are about 10-15 doors hanging on the wall.  All of the doors came from the lady mentioned above. 

How did you accomplish the “window light” without actually having windows?  Basically I built the wall and added the window, then there is about six feet of space behind the window before you get to a white wall.  I use two alien bees and bounce the light off the white wall and back through the window.

What are the pros of having a studio?  I think having a studio screams “you are a professional.”  In the world where there are tons of people with cameras, this really sets me apart.  The studio also allows me to shoot all year round, and when it rains, I have a place to shoot without having to reschedule because of weather.  The studio also gives me a quiet place to meet clients, and I have tons of exposure because the studio is downtown.

What are the cons of having a studio?  The monthly rent! ☺  It is scary to take the jump and it definitely took more time and money than expected.  But it was well worth it!

What is your favorite part of the studio?  My favorite part is the fact that I had a vision and was able to accomplish that vision.  I look at it and know if is something I created.  I loved being able to show my dad and brother (who is a construction manager) that I could build something.

If you could have anything (that you currently don’t have) in your studio, what would it be?  A dressing room and a boom to be able to light from above.

What is one tip you could share with other photographers thinking about opening their own studio?  You can do it!!!  It’s hard work, harder than you think and it will cost more but it is worth it!!!

**Thank you Chris for a wonderful interview! I LOVE your studio! Can't decide which part is my favorite...the wood strip wall or the wall of doors {and the built in table}! 


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