Carly’s description of working from home hits so close to, well, home. 98% of the time I’ve told someone that I work from home their response has been, “You’re so lucky!” Yes, those of us that are able to work from home are lucky, but what others don’t understand is that balancing “work things” and “home things” can become extremely difficult to prioritize. While making that extra cup of coffee you might decide to clean the stove, or do the dishes from breakfast, and why not throw in a load of laundry while you’re at it?
Hi! My name is Carly Romeo and I’m a Richmond, VA-based wedding photographer. I love feminism, snuggling, dressing inappropriately for the weather and then complaining about it, exclaiming “this is my JAM!” when a song I like is playing, and squeezing babies (not mine). I have been in business for two years as Two Spoons Photography, and in July I moved my business from my home office into an amazing studio space that I love, love, love. The space isn’t anything fancy, really just an 12’ x 8’ cubby hole without a door in a print studio/artists’ collective nonprofit called Studio Two Three. But for $200/month, it’s mine to work in, edit in, take meetings in, and of course personalize.
Are you thinking of moving your photography business from your home into a studio space? Here are three completely legitimate reasons why you might have trouble working from your home and want to consider an outside-the-home space (and why I can’t use each as an excuse):
- “I don’t have space to work at home” – In February, my partner and I became homeowners for the first time ever. After months of searching, we found and purchased the perfect 1930s bungalow here in Richmond. I remember being excited about the extra bedroom, envisioning a beautiful, serene, photography-adorned, productivity-fostering oasis. The room is lovely, but that’s not what it’s used for now.
- “I’m not used to working at home/alone/outside an office setting.” – I have been working from home at my “day job” for three years, and at photography for one and a half. Before buying our house, I worked frequently out of the local coffee shop around the corner, co-worked with friends, or occasionally from bed (not gonna lie).
- “I have a child and/or other beloved entity requiring a lot of attention that makes working at home difficult.” – My partner and I are not planning on having children, and pets don’t interest me. I was often the only living being in our new house, so nobody was distracting me with their need for food, want for cuddles/attention, or tendency to be adorably instagrammable. Which brings me to…
The three real reasons I don’t work from home anymore and instead have a studio space:
- I am messy (and cheap) – When meeting with clients, we all want to create a space and an experience that is professional and pleasant. In an ideal world, my home would look like Design*Sponge and the country of Denmark had a little bungalow baby. In real life, my clothes are on the floor of 70% of the rooms and the other rooms are perpetually in what I would consider a “generally unkempt” state. Yes, I can meet clients at that local coffee shop, but that costs money and travel time. If I spend $10 per visit on a coffee beverage for me and my client(s), in only 10 visits I would have spent half the rent on my new studio space; plus, the art there is questionable at best. The art in my studio space are my own images, printed beautifully by ProDPI of course.
- I am easily distracted – If, like me, your “working from home” routine involves making yourself a cup of tea, watching an episode of your favorite show, tossing in a load of laundry, deep-cleaning your bathroom, creating a pile of donation clothes, and browsing cookbooks for dinner plans, you might be too easily distracted to effectively work from home. Even though it’s challenging, working on one (or, let’s be honest, two or three) task(s) at a time is proven to be more efficient. Besides, your photography clients deserve photos (and emails) created with your full attention, since your clients are the basis of your business and all. Investing in a dedicated space for “work things” instead of “home things” helps minimize these distractions.
- I love working (maybe too much) – This is the real reason I decided to invest in a studio space. Work-wise, I have a part-time day job that I actually enjoy, I am a co-publisher of a bi-yearly feminist wedding magazine called Catalyst Wedding Mag, and I carry a photography roster of 20 weddings per year, maximum. This translates to a LOT of emails, editing, and other computer/phone work that often feels extremely urgent. Like many people, I found myself struggling with keeping good boundaries between “work things” and “life things,” and I felt compelled to do “just one more task” on my computer before important things like joining my partner for dinner, spending time with friends, or even just doing yoga or otherwise caring for myself. Having a dedicated studio space hasn’t totally eradicated the instinct to be instantly responsive, but it at least encourages me to be more thoughtful about what work tasks I decide to let into my non-work headspace/physical space. Yes, it can be annoying to bike all the way home after a late night at the studio just to realize that some files didn’t upload (only made that mistake once, oof), but it’s awesome to be able to sit on your couch and not feel your home office whispering your name.
All of this is not to say that working from home is never feasible for me, or will never be feasible for you. Some people have excellent boundaries or natural clarity about their priorities at all times. Not all communities have amazing, affordable art spaces that rent out mini-studios that will fit your vibe, your life, your family, or your budget. If a monthly spot isn’t an option for you, consider co-working spaces that rent by the hour or the day. If you don’t enjoy the background hustle and bustle of an art studio, maybe a more office-like environment would help you get things done. Maybe a friend or neighbor has an extra desk in their office space you could use for a few hours a week in the evenings when your spouse is watching your little ones. I encourage you to get creative about this, because the potential benefits are huge.
Besides, look at those ProDPI lovelies. It’s almost worth the $200/month just to be able to show off your work looking as gorgeous as they make it look.