If you've worked with me, you know I typically shot on location and outdoors. The closest thing I have to a studio is my living room or my garage. Well, this week I got to try something new: Oi! Yoi! Natural Light Studio with my dear friend, Micah.
Oi! Yoi!, which is located in downtown Missoula, is a gorgeous studio space that you can rent by the hour. The space has a wonderful collection of different colored walls, quirky chairs and couches, unique lighting, and funky stools. You can also bring any additional props and items you might want to add, but even if you don't, the space is all set up and ready to go.
You might remember Micah from one of my previous posts. Micah, a former professor and current mentor/role model of mine, specializes in helping women-owned businesses market themselves. Of course, since her specialty is marketing, it's important for her to market herself, as well. Every couple of months, we get together (usually with her son, Wilder, as well) to create some content for her website and social media outlets. One of Micah's connections, Rio, happens to own Oi! Yoi!, giving us the opportunity to know about the awesome space, and the rest is history! I'm excited to take you along on our shoot.
Arriving at the location, I was so surprised! The studio is located in the renovated upstairs of what used to be a baptist church. I'd passed this church countless times over the years and had no idea the space had been converted into various workspaces for creatives.
The studio itself has two rooms to shoot in, one north-facing and one west-facing. Within the rooms, there are two main large couches, as well as two lounge chairs. Oi! Yoi! also boasts a large collection of rugs and stools, plus a super funky, giant mirror. The space is filled with cute plants and lamps, as well.
We definitely made use of all the different areas set up. My absolute favorite setup was this gorgeous tan velvet couch set in front of the most incredible green wall. To know me is to know my obsession with Slytherin green, and this wall did not disappoint. I fully have the intention of painting the entire inside of my house that exact same shade of green (one day when I own a home instead of renting), so it made my heart incredibly happy. I also loved their plain white wall that had a variety of different colored paper backdrops to pull down. It provided a ton of different options while maximizing a smaller corner of the studio. This paired with the variety of chairs and stools provided was heaven.
This being my first time shooting in a natural light studio, I definitely learned a lot of dos and don'ts. As with anything, it is a lot of trial and error before you learn to become comfortable. I absolutely loved the provided spaces, colors, and furniture, but here are a few takeaways that I will be sure to improve upon my next visit!
Learn the Space - I absolutely adored the studio space. That being said, I wish I would have approached the owners and asked for a walk-through or a virtual tour before I arrived just to get a better sense of the space. Especially when you are on a time crunch, I think it is so valuable to know what you are walking into. Next time, I will definitely feel more comfortable with the area, but from now on, I am definitely going to be better about viewing the space before a client arrives, that way I can be formulating a plan in my head and maximize the time allotted.
Be Cautious of Natural Light - I shoot in natural light the vast majority of the time, but 99% of the time, that natural light is outside and I can move around as needed to adjust my light. When shooting natural light indoors, you have a very finite amount of light, with very specific sources. Unfortunately, especially in a location that is north-facing, it isn't always easy to get the most out of your light, especially on a dark, rainy winter's day as we had. I tried to compensate for the darkness by making sure to use lenses with a wide aperture (like my 35mm 1.4 Sigma Art lense), but even so, I was struggling a bit. Honestly, I had to crank my ISO a lot more than I would have liked, resulting in images that were a lot more grainy than I like. In the future, I will do better to consider the weather. Even though we weren't outside, it was still overcast, significantly impacting the light available to us. I know it is a natural-light studio, but moving forward, I will be sure to bring my lighting equipment with me. I felt that by not bringing my lighting, the quality of my images and my overall creative freedom suffered.
Bring Your Own Flare - I know I've already mentioned all the wonderful things that Oi! Yoi! supplies, from the couches, walls, chairs, and lights, to the tables, mirrors, and rugs. That being said, I wish I would have brought more props of my own to make the space feel a little cozier and lived in. Props I would really like to consider bringing in the future include my own rugs, books, candles, mugs, faux-fur blankets, pillows, flowers/plants, and other decor pieces that would enhance the space and make it feel a little more personal. I think these personal touches would also help to differentiate my photos from other artists who rent the space.
Ease of Shoot & Prep
It was super quick and easy to come into the space, and everything was set and ready to go. That being said, as mentioned above, I wish I would have brought my own props to make the space a little more personal.
Price of Space Rental
I thought the pricing of the space was very fair for what they provide! It's a great open space and has been beautifully cultivated.
I did find us going over time, which was fine since there was no one behind us. But if we were to have finished at the time given, plus accounting for setup and cleanup, I would not have been able to get everything I wanted to done. This is where seeing the space before shooting would have been beneficial.
As stated earlier, we ended up shooting on a very dark day, which, in order to keep the brightness where it needed to be, compromised the quality of the photos a little more than I felt happy with. I still love what we created! Just a good lesson for next time.
In general, this was a great first time shooting in a studio space and was a wonderful learning experience. I definitely walked away knowing a lot more of how I will improve next time, and am excited to create at Oi! Yoi! again in the future.
Overall Experience: 3.75/5
As always, Micah absolutely killed this shoot and I had so much creating in a new space with her. Even though there were learning challenges on my end, I am very happy with the photos we created and am extremely grateful for the lessons learned. Thank you for coming on this shoot with me!