If you have visited us at the original studio space, which was formerly the “2TP” or Two Tadpoles Photography studio on Whalley Road, you will know that it is a ground floor space and pretty compact in size. I had aspirations for many years to either move to somewhere larger or find some way to increase the amount of floor space available. This past month I have done exactly the latter. In order to explain how, we should take a brief look at the history of the location. The building was previously locally known as “Ralph’s Diner”, a much loved greasy spoon that was popular in the town centre for many years. It is a shop front property with access onto the main road. During it’s time as a diner it had an open plan layout with a reasonably sized space that paired both tables for customers and a serving area. Behind this was a small adjoining kitchen. Shortly after the diner closed down it was taken over as a second hand shop called “Brands 4 less”
At this stage in its life the two rooms were separated and a partition wall was built between them. The shop didn’t last very long and after it closed, I moved into the front half of the building. I had access to the front area which is roughly 20 foot by 20 foot with very high ceilings and a cellar. Although the cellar is very dusty and far too spooky to be of much use.
You can get an idea of what the space was like to work in at this time in this behind the scenes video:
For the first few years I had the space, there was another man making use of the back room and kitchen for his business. (I believe he was a t-shirt printing company.) Shortly before the rona happened, his lease ran out and he left. This meant the back room was now vacant.
Now, we are up to date, pretty much a year later, And I have access to this backspace!
The immediate plan was to take down that partition wall and expand into the back room.
It was a pretty simple process. First I would rip down the plasterboard, take out the studs and then tidy up. The main part of the expansion project was done within a day! I did have giant plans for everything, but time restraints have reigned us in a little. That, and we are hoping that within the next 12 months we will be moving into a much larger space, which would mean anything ambitious we built here would either need to fit or be repurposed when we move into our new space or be left here. This meant the plans of making the rear set a cycloramic wall had to be put on hold.
The back room needed a lot of TLC, the old carpet was horrendous and the walls were painted a very weird off white, almost yellow colour which when paired with the very warm tube lights gave an uneasy and not very welcoming feel to the place.
We ripped up the carpet and made some repairs to the floor underneath, stripped the walls and built a new partition along the back wall to create a longer, smoother surface that can be used as the main set in the studio.
You can see from this image the grey area of the wall is the extended partition. This wall is going to be a photographic set. The floor will be boarded out and painted white to match. Just behind that door to the right is access to the kitchen, in the negative space that the partition has made I now have a perfect spot to hide away the gear locker and drawers. These things are both invaluable for storing everything and anything in the studio, but they take up so much space. Having a hidden away spot for them makes the studio look massively tidier and gives everyone who’s in there that little bit more room!
You can see in the panoramic shot, the edge of the scaffolding “Mezzanine” storage area I call “The Shelf” (side story, whilst moving things from the floor to that shelf before starting the work, my ladder collapsed and I fell and dislocated my shoulder, which was fun)
The shelf was my answer to a lack of storage, built from scaffolding, it holds all of the props, coloramas and other equipment I don’t need immediate access to out of the way. The area with the Union Flag to the right, is the changing room. It has its own lights and mirror in there, so anyone who’s going to be in front of the camera has their own space to change. The door to the left is the entrance to the spooky cellar.
On the first image you can see the original studio area, this will now be the second set and will keep it’s coloramas (I say colorama, most of my backgrounds are “Creativity”) The new set will also have a colorama mount and a variety of colours to choose from.
Rather than leaving the front window open to the sets I chose to board off the right hand window and use it as a window display.
The whole window area is going to be clean and white with the new company logo somewhere in the centre. Surrounded by examples of our work and contact details. I haven’t decided on a lighting solution for it yet, but I think it’s going to look great once it’s done!
On the subject of the new logo…
The new logo, the Flint Arrowhead itself needed to be present. I wanted a rustic, home made look to the logo and opted to make it from a pallet. The boards are screwed together on the back and sprayed in grey primer. The logo was printed out and masked in place then sprayed.
The final image has the arrows in full colour crossed behind it. This is waiting to go up in the window at the studio when the prints for the work that is going alongside it arrives.
That is all for this update, I will be posting more about the progress as we continue. The back room has just been decorated and the flooring in there is on the list after the electrician has been and added some new sockets and lights. After that we will be painting the whole floor in the back room and making a start on tidying up the front area. There are a lot of smaller things to work on, including making a reception area, a gallery and a seating area for meetings with clients. We are hoping that this is all going to be finished by the end of the month and we can start creating amazing work from this freshly renovated space!