The studio renovation continues!

Stand by, this post is going to be a long one. It has been a month since the previous update and in that time a lot of work has happened at the studio which has brought it up to a very useable standard. In fact, at the time of writing this blog we have shot several projects in the space, the first of those, for an old project I had started many years ago called “Attic Sessions” was an acoustic session with two musicians from a local band called Outsider. 

This was the proof of concept shoot to decide if the project I started in 2014 was feasible to continue at the Flint Arrow studio. As you can see from the video linked below, it was very successful and will be a project we continue to expand on in future. 

With regards to the renovation of the studio we have made a lot of progress over the past month. We managed to secure a desk for the front of house. It was a “fixer upper” and required some modification, a few new screws and a coat of paint. But it is now solid and doing a great job!

The next item on our list was the floor in set 1, after spending a day filling cracks and gaps we set about painting it with a polyurethane floor paint. It’s super glossy and can be mopped when dirty. 

It took almost a week with extra coats and drying time and almost as long for the smell to leave after that! But the floor is a lot better than it was, it could still be a lot better. In an ideal situation we would resurface the whole floor and make it perfectly level and smooth. But we are against a ticking clock and on a budget. That is something we can look into further down the line. 

The next challenge with the floor came with set 2 (back in the habit). The floor in there was a mixture of different floor boards and patched up areas and an old hearth along the right hand wall. I gave it an initial test paint to see how it would take (you can spot this in the Outsider images above) but as you can see below, there are sections that where obviously covered with something that affected paint. Even with a layer of undercoat and a layer of paint, whatever was on the boards found its way through.

The sensible idea was to cover the floor with some kind of ply. I took a trip to Greengates (a local building supplies merchant) and picked up several sheets of ply and some MDF and timber for other projects in the studio. 

The ply went down really well and made for a solid surface. 

While I set about working on the other projects, Bobbie assembled the Billy bookshelf. This bookshelf will be a “Where can I put this camera” point and a place we can store all of the inspiration magazines and photography books. It lives on Set 2 (cruise control) in the far right corner. 

The other projects, we needed a door for the gap to the display window, a cover for the broken electrical cupboard and a cover for the door to the cellar.

The door for the display window is a simple 3x2 frame with MDF on one side and the remnants of the ply from the floor on the other. It opens up about 45 degrees, which is enough to step through into the window. It is held closed by a little latch at the bottom. Shortly after the photos above where taken, we painted it white. 

The cover for the electrical cabinet is MDF and just slots over it. It sits perfectly in place and is very solid. As with the door, it has been painted white. 

To block entrance to the cellar, a piece of MDF was cut to size and slides into a recess between a piece of 3x2 and the doorframe which holds it in place. Again, this is painted white and is now the home for the growing collection of “Polaroids” of people I’ve worked with in the studio. Why are we blocking the cellar? I have stored things down in the cellar in the past, but it is a very dusty, dank place, access to it is very tight and the “door” that provides access doesn’t always stay closed. We have no need to access it regularly, (the fuse box is down there, so we do need to get down on occasion) so hiding the access door seemed like the best bet. It looks neater without a door in the corner and keeps out the draft. 

The next step was to paint the new floor white. This has taken several coats over a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, the paint is easy to chip and mark, so we are going to have to repaint this regularly. 

At this point I also made the main part of the flat shooting rig. The idea behind the flat shoot rig is to give us a surface we can shoot down on from above without having to be directly above it. It is built from 12mm MDF and measures roughly 6 foot by 4 foot. On top of the MDF is 40mm thick foam held down by a bed sheet, stapled in place at the rear. (I’ve made a video showing how to build one of these and the uses it has which will go up on the Flint Arrow YouTube channel in the near future) 

This rig is going to be mounted onto the wall by the book case in Set 2 (the squeakquel) and can be pulled down to the floor giving a solid platform that sits at a shallow angle. Allowing the garment you are styling to be photographed from above without having to mount a camera above the subject. I also have a boom arm that attaches to the wall above the rig to allow a light to be placed directly above without having any light stands or boom arms in the way.

Set 2 (Secret of the ooze) finally has it’s own colorama mount now too! Currently it has the mottled background that I painted a few years ago, which has been my go too for portrait work. - This background is currently in use as part of our launch event, which will get it’s own blog post soon!

The next big step was to paint the exterior of the studio. This was a whole day of a job and involved really rickety ladders and plenty of wiping paint up from the floor!

And of course, I can’t be trusted with paint, so it didn’t go without incident…

For the interior work, that’s pretty much up to date at this point. The only other thing of note is the window decals. I wanted a variation of the logo in both the main window and the front door in black vinyl.

I own a Silhouette Portrait 3 plotter which allows me to cut designs into paper, card, t shirt transfer vinyl and also, transfer vinyl. Which is what I used for the design in the window. I split the design up into three by three A4 sections and cut the design accordingly, this didn’t work too well when it came to applying the vinyl to the windows. The seams where massively visible and it just didn’t look great. 

I opted to re do them all and re cut the vinyl with all of the assets as individual pieces which where then lined up in place on the window. Meaning there was only one place where there was a seam and it is not really noticeable. This technique worked a lot better.

This brings us pretty much up to date with all things renovation. There are still a good few things we need to get sorted before our launch event next month, but we are well on our way to being ready to roll!

Along with the Outsider video mentioned earlier, we have been shooting some test images for the website and Instagram feed. These are mostly exciting product shots (cans and bottles etc) and some messy “splash” shots using Passata sauce. Lots of fun, the final images can be seen over at

And that is all we have for this update. I will post again soon with the details of the launch event we are hosting. If you want a sneak peek at that, check out the event post over at the Flint Arrow Photo Facebook page. 

Getting the keys to a new studio…

So, I admit it, that title is a little click bait. This is a little bit of a throw back post to the day I first got the keys to the space we are currently renovating. The above image is the day I moved in. You can see that a lot has changed. The floor is possibly the first thing you will notice. That carpet was glued to a layer of lino that had sat on the concrete floor for at least a decade. It had formed a layer of mold that I spent quite some time safely removing. Removing that carpet and painting the floor was the first thing I did to the studio that was a massive improvement. Before I made that change it felt dark and claustrophobic. 

You will also notice that the mezzanine floor/shelf hasn’t been built at this point. It was a couple of years before that made an appearance. And a couple more after that before I took a dive from it! Another point to note is the lack of the changing room area and the window display wall. These where both added at the same time as the shelf. The old “Brands 4 less” logo was on the windows for quite some time before I finally removed it. 

Removing the old branding was definitely an improvement. 

This image was taken just as everything had been moved in and the Colorama’s had been hung up and the set floor laid. It didn’t quite feel like home yet. Especially after coming from a much cleaner, presentable albeit smaller studio space further down the road. 

The old space was a tiny office room on the bottom floor of a commercial building further down the road. It was very cramped, but looked really great. The other businesses on the floor where fantastic company as well. I was really sad to move from there, but I couldn’t fit in the small space for much longer and the limited modifications I was allowed to do to the room meant I couldn’t make many improvements, or significant alterations - like the shelf for storage. 

That being said, it was quite some time before any modifications were made to the current studio. The main alterations came in the form of the shelf and getting rid of that carpet. These images are the day the shelf was originally installed. Before it was completely finished and before the changing room was properly built. Also, note that the window display boarding was not installed yet either.

The construction of the changing room was relatively simple. Strips of baton where attached to the scaffold, the ply was then screwed directly onto these. A simple, but effective solution.  I couldn’t find an image to show the construction of the window display, but once that was in, that is pretty much how it has remained until recently when the renovations began. 

There will be an extensive update soon detailing what has been done to the studio over the past few days. It is looking a lot more homely and very professional these days. I’m definitely looking forwards to it being in a fully useable state.

Studio renovation update!

Continuing on from the last update post, the studio is feeling much more like a studio again and less like a construction site. 

You can see from the panoramic image above that, all of the building supplies that did not get used to build the new set and what was left of the partition wall we took out were piled in the middle of the floor. This took up way too much space and was becoming a hazard. I decided a simple solution would be to hide the larger pieces of lumber in the back room, where they would be out of the way and store the offcuts and other pieces in the changing room. We don’t need to access that area at the moment, so it made sense to use it to store everything we could. 

I really dislike mess and disorder, so as you can imagine having everything all over the place is really getting on my nerves. The silver lining though, is that when this is finished there will be order and space for everything. The studio will be super tidy, clean and look great. So if I have to put up with a mess for a couple more weeks, I guess I’ll have to!

The walls in the back room which we call “Set 2” (back in the habit), have been lined and we could then set about painting them. So far, most of the surfaces have had two coats, the one with the light switch needs some repair work to the plaster at the bottom. I am waiting to finish painting that one until after the repair work has happened. 

I decided to paint some of the floor as a test. The original idea was to use thin ply wood as a surface layer. This would then be painted white, giving set 2 (electric boogaloo) a clean, crisp finish with no gaps between the walls and floor, no floor boards and just a smooth white surface to shoot on. But once I had seen the floor boards, I quite liked the aesthetic and figured testing out how they might look once painted would be a good idea. As it turns out, there has been something spilled on some of the boards and there are a few different kinds of wood and as a result the white isn’t “white white” all over. In some spots (where something was spilled), orange seeps through and other areas look grey. I think, with a good solid undercoat and some thick floor paint, we might get away with it. But I do think the original idea of ply wood is going to be the route we take.

Even Flint (the namesake of our company), wanted to get involved in the painting! Seen here on Set 2 (cruise control) with Bobbie as we applied the first coat of paint.

We added some finishing touches to the small section of partition wall that we had to leave in place behind the mezzanine. This piece of wall prevents the contents of the mezzanine “shelf” being visible from the back.

The front window area has been fully painted now and the company logo and example images are proudly displayed for passers by to see! Getting everything up on that wall, in the limited space, whilst balancing a tape measure, screws, drill, spirit level and the framed image, was a bit of a challenge! Our three year old took one look at it and said “One of them is wonky” and walked off. 

I also got rid of the horrendous old, broken blind and replaced it with a functioning one! This means now more light can come into the front area and we might actually look like we are open instead of permanently looking closed. I was going to take a tip from Kevin Smith and grab a bed sheet and some shoe polish as an alternate option… 

Bobbie spent some time stripping the old blown vinyl wallpaper from the front area and we gave Set 1 a fresh coat of paint and painted the wall where the wallpaper had been removed and the back of the window display some TLC as well. Then we rearranged things slightly and started to tidy up a little more. 

That brings us pretty much up to date again. Next on the list is a set of blinds for the mezzanine shelf. This will allow us to cover the area and hide away all the things that are stored up there. With flat white blinds it should look pretty tidy as well. Then the electrician is coming in to sort out the plugs and lights - I thought this was going to happen last week, but it was pushed back. Once that is done we can lay the ply wood floor in Set 2 (Judgement day) and begin the arduous task of painting the entire floor. 

We are hoping to be ready for action at the end of April and we will be running a special launch event which we will explain about over on the Flint Arrow facebook page and instagram! Check back soon for more updates! 

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