Holly Ridge has a new addition: Topsail Photo Studio! This is perfect for photographers who want to rent studio space for photography sessions, but do not want the responsibility of owning a studio!
Located behind the Gulfstream building in the Camp Davis Industrial Park, Jeff Wenzel set up shop for printing canvases, framing, and a 900 square foot commercial studio that can be rented by the hour. You are probably familiar with Jeff’s work, he owns Above Topsail Media and has taken thousands of aerial shots of our beloved Topsail Island, North Carolina.
And because my favorite thing to do is play with anything photography related, I collaborated with Jeff and Tiffany Rudy to test out the Topsail Photo Studio for Santa Mini Sessions. I’ll share the equipment we used later in this post.
It’s quite an extensive list that’s included…
- Multiple lighting options from strobe lighting and soft boxes, to backdrops, to floor drops… basically everything except a camera!
- There’s a dressing room complete with a hair dryer, and access to a bathroom. If you’ve done several hours of shooting for sessions before, you’ll really appreciate having access to an indoor bathroom!
To be honest, I couldn’t have even counted the number of lights available for use at Topsail Photo Studio. We definitely played around with two ambient lights from the loft, which has 16 different colors to choose from! Jeff even built a large “window light” to imitate natural sunlight.
There are large bounce cards on wheels, and an 8′ x 8′ scrim light modifier (also on wheels).
Make it Your Own
You can see how we transformed the space to turn it into Tiffany’s vision for both “Santa Mini Sessions” and a ‘Winter Wonderland’ theme, all at the same time. Since kids do not have a long attention span, we were able to utilize the large space for two totally different backdrops within 20 minutes of shooting time for each family.
What We Used
- We had Alexa playing Christmas carols! At certain times we changed it to a kid’s favorite song if we needed to get their attention. I would have never guessed how helpful that would be, but it really came in handy! Jeff has a bigger bluetooth speaker that you can use and sync to your phone, but we didn’t end up using this for the Santa Mini Sessions.
- The back double door to unload and then load the van back up with our props and equipment made this setup so much easier. We had a lot of props, including a Christmas tree, so you can only imagine how much stuff we had! Bringing it directly into the studio was beyond helpful.
- There are 5 of the 107″ backdrops, we used both the cream and fashion grey. Tiffany, Jeff, and I all agreed that the fashion grey was our favorite. There are 6 colors in the 53″ backdrops, but Tiffany ended up using a winter fabric backdrop she had and we brought backdrop stands with us…. although we didn’t need to. Jeff had plenty of backdrop stands but we forgot to ask before bringing ours!
- Both floor drops were used, both the brown faux wood and the white faux wood. We also used his waiting room loveseat next to the Christmas tree, it measured 78″ x 21″ and the other 2 couches he has available to use are full size.
The steamer in the dressing room came in super handy to steam out the wrinkles in the fabric backdrop! Our Christmas tree also had fake snow, which meant we had a lot of cleaning up to do…. Jeff provided a small cordless and large vacuum cleaner for us to clean it all up!
- For the lighting, we used Jeff’s handmade faux window light (which is 1 stop diffused), with the 8′ scrim in front of it. We also used the ambient light in green from the loft above, although that won’t show in any of Tiffany’s photos. But if was fun and set the mood!
- We used a Godox LED continuous light with a Westcott Rapid Box soft box as our main lighting source. While Godox strobe / off camera flash lighting is available, Tiffany chose not to use that for these sessions.
The two things that I didn’t think anything of until we were setting up were extension cords and fans. Fortunately Jeff had plenty of extension cords and a great fan with several settings and a remote! Santa gets warm under his winter suit! And we had a lot of things to plug in, from the Christmas tree, to the faux window light, to the fans, to the multiple soft boxes used, etc.
We had a great experience renting Topsail Photo Studio and the families who participated in Tiffany’s Santa Mini Sessions had excellent reviews as well. Several remarked that they were impressed at the set up and the size of the space! If you’re considering renting a photo studio, or want to hire a photographer who will do indoor portraits (ladies, your hair will thank you!), this is a great opportunity and we are pleased that Jeff has opened his studio to the public for rent. In the future, you may see classes on off camera flash, lighting, etc being hosted at Topsail Photo Studio. What a wonderful addition to the greater Topsail area!