“I actually think the niche approach is what makes it so versatile,” continues Martino, who hires the space out using Peerspace. “There are so many unique ‘moments’ in the space and flexibility in how the decor and furnishings are used, and we’ve attracted everything from baby clothing brands to iconic tween lifestyle brands to TV show pilots.”
“Although we do our best to create photogenic macro moments, it really is the micro details of styling that bring a space to life,” suggests Rosalie. Her second Peerspace-listed location, the Mediterranean-inspired Malta House, features stucco details throughout to add visual interest. It recently provided the backdrop for a shoot by outdoor recreation brand REI.
“When searching for a location, the space’s aesthetic is key,” points out Liz Yam, design principal at New York-based agency Keithcity Group. “We must anticipate what will translate well on-camera for our list of shots.”
“Installing floor-to-ceiling curtains also made all the difference for creating a Mediterranean oasis,” she adds. “Sometimes people look for something very specific, like an arched doorway, or something more minimal, like plain textured walls. It all depends on the shoot.”
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Frustrated by the abundance of neutral spaces when searching for spaces for her own production needs, fashion, beauty, and lifestyle blogger Rachel Martino seized the opportunity. “I wanted to create a space that felt like a home – a full, complete space that you can come into and get any kind of content you need,” she explains.
SEE POTENTIAL IN EVERY NICHE
Despite its East Coast location, Keithcity Group regularly produces shoots in California, which has proved a challenge in the past. “I don’t know the neighbourhoods as well,” admits Yam, giving an example of a space she found that seemed ideal, but ultimately proved too far away for talent to travel to in LA’s notorious traffic. “Thankfully I was able to offer a handful of alternate suggestions quickly,” she recalls.
Dream Loft Studios was born: a self-dubbed “maximalist haven” that has since hosted big-brand campaigns for the like of Macy’s, Amazon, and Comedy Central, as well as various independent film projects.
FIND A DISTINCTIVE AESTHETIC
Three of Rosalie’s own photo studios are available to hire on Peerspace, an online marketplace for sourcing locations for productions, events, meetings and more. One of her spaces, Iro House, proves her point: “Our clients always say magic happens because golden hour fills the space from 3–6pm,” she explains. “The photos are stunning every time.”
MAKE USE OF LITTLE DETAILS
Described by Rosalie as “LA’s first all-plaster-interior Pinterest-come-to-life space”, Iro House features arched doorways and floor-to-ceiling plaster textures, and it opened for bookings in 2021. “Each of our homes are meticulously designed by a photographer and an architect with content creation in mind,” she explains.
Yam agrees, noting that while her team at Keithcity Group tends to gravitate to more neutral spaces for interview shoots, brand campaigns may often demand something more distinctive and memorable to bring the shots to life.
“Light is super important,” begins Karen Rosalie, founder of Rosalie Agency, which produces campaigns for a range of Sephora beauty brands. “It’s always a plus when locations have golden-hour light-filled magic.”
Rosalie shares her own horror story of a client who insisted that they book a hotel room for their latest campaign shoot. “When we got there the light was awful and the room was tiny,” she recalls. “It was horrible to shoot in and ultimately the client asked for a reshoot. That was the first and last time I’ll shoot in a hotel room.”
“It helps to have something that makes your space unique,” Rosalie continues. “It makes a huge difference actually curating the photogenic moment, rather than leaving it as a blank canvas. As Steve Jobs would say: ‘People don’t know what they want until you show them.’”
This attention to detail has paid off: a recent shoot for Hilary Swank’s clothing brand Mission Statement at Iro House was a “bucket-list moment” for Rosalie, and the distinctive interior has also attracted brands such as Nordstrom, Talentless and Lulu and Georgia.
She gives the example of a brief from a real-estate client that required two different spaces to appeal to their audience range. “One was an upscale yet comfortable renovated brownstone in Brooklyn,” she recalls. “Within walking distance was our second location, a Peerspace that was an eclectic mid-century-furnished brownstone. It was a studio apartment, but from our shots you couldn’t even tell.”
Whether it’s natural light, versatile space, quirky aesthetics, cost, convenience, or any combination of these, your location choice can truly make or break a shoot. There are countless pitfalls to avoid, and finding something that ticks every box for a complex campaign can fast become a headache.
HAVE ALTERNATIVES UP YOUR SLEEVE Although Rosalie had already sent across a list of potential spaces in advance that would have served the purpose better, it was ultimately the client’s call. “In that situation it would’ve been impossible to visit the room beforehand so it couldn’t have been avoided, but that’s something I love about Peerspace: you can scout locations before booking.”