Buy, lease or hire – how to set up (and fund) your dream photographic studio

Buy, lease or hire – how to set up (and fund) your dream photographic studio

Photo credit Chris Greenwood Photography

As photographers we know that equipment is expensive. It seems that just adding the words studio, photography or dSLR, can seriously amplify the price of a piece of kit. And if you’re running a photographic studio there are lots of ways of financing your purchases.

You can make the most of what you’ve got, and not get lured onto the endless upgrade treadmill. But with technology advancing apace, you don’t want to left behind your competitors, lagging in capability and efficiency.

Keeping your photographic studio up to date with the latest equipment needs to be done with some clear business goals in mind, and the financing of your kit merits some thought.

Tight budget

If you’re on a tight budget, you can get set up with some great second hand kit for under a grand. But this article looks at setting up with a brand new set of pro level kit at current UK prices (approximate US dollar equivalents in brackets).

Initial outlay

Assuming you’re shooting a pair of Canon, Nikon or Sony bodies, your initial outlay on cameras and lenses could set you back £8k – £10k ($10k – $13k). Then you’ll need an Apple iMac suitable for a pro photography workflow, with peripherals and external hard drives. This will likely set you back around £2.5k – £3k ($3.5k – $4k).

Setting up a photographic studio

So you’re looking at £10k – £15k ($13k – $20k) initial set up, plus another £2k – £3k ($2.5k – $4k). And if you’re setting up a photographic studio, you’ll need to include lighting equipment and modifiers which can easily add another £5k – £10k ($6.5k – $13k) onto this figure!

At this level of spending, it’s crucial to your business that you give some consideration to how you fund your purchases. So what are the options?

Buy your kit and own it

Many photographic studios buy their kit outright. You’ll likely get a better deal at point of sale, and you won’t have any monthly outgoings for lease or finance. And it’ll have a resale value when you come to upgrade. But you need to look at the true cost of ownership; the cost per year, the cost per shoot, servicing costs, and resale value, before making a decision.

Lease or finance your kit and release your cash

Leasing or otherwise financing your equipment has a couple of big advantages. From a business perspective, you save yourself the big cash outlay at the point of purchase. That cash can be spent on marketing and advertising and promoting your business. So your £5k ($6.5k) spend on a new camera body and lens can turn into a finance deal on the hardware, costing you a couple of hundred bucks a month. This can release the cash needed to get your social media strategy sorted and your exhibition stand looking mint. If you’ve done your homework, these latter two should bring in bookings and orders. So your business grows and can fund the finance. If you decide to lease your equipment, Photolease are the big players in this field. Wex Photo Video also offer lease options but these are administered by Photolease. And Charter Hall Asset Finance also offer specialist photography options.

Hire the extras

A third way could be to own only your basic, most fundamental kit, eg camera bodies and a couple of lenses. When you need specific equipment for a shoot, you can hire the necessary lens, light or whatever. The disadvantage is you’ll only have the kit for a short of time. And as we all know practice practice makes perfect pictures. Calumet Hire and Fixation Rental have merged to form Wex Rental. They can hire you pretty much anything from a fisheye lens to a bank of 7ft parabolic umbrellas powered by Profoto flashbacks. and hire a massive range of lenses. And if you and your new fave glass can’t be parted, they’ll often reduce the purchase price by the cost of your hire.

Which one is right for you?

So there are a bunch of options to consider! Of course which one is right for you will depend on your business. For example your clients, cashflow, financials, and the type of photographer you are. Do your research, get all the info together, and you’ll be best informed to make the right decision.

If you want to bounce any ideas around, we’re always here for a chat. Give us a call 07939077336 or drop us an email We’ll be happy to share what we’ve picked up along the way!