In the early days of his career as a photographer, James Dulay would sometimes rent a studio to carry out a project. But finding a studio that was available when he needed it and easily accessible soon became difficult. “My wife actually told me why not open a studio to make it a lot easier for me,” Mr. Dulay told BusinessWorld in an interview. In April of 2015, Mr. Dulay and his wife, Valerie, started Creative Light Photo Studio, on Calderon Street, Project 4, Quezon City.
The photographer’s den can be rented by practically anyone — independent professional photographers, media organizations, advertising agencies, corporations and students. Most of their customers, Mr. Dulay said, are the latter. The studio, however, is not strictly a place that one rents; the couple, in response to a growing demand for photographic services, have expanded Creative Light’s portfolio of services to include portraiture, product photography and event coverage.
Getting to the studio should be easy, especially for those with private cars. Those without can take a train to the Anonas Station of LRT-2, then ride a tricycle to Calderon St. According to Mr. Dulay, the studio measures roughly 100 square meters (sq. m), while photo shoot area is 40 sq. m.
In addition to that area, which accommodates a maximum of 15 persons, the studio has a dedicated make-up and changing room, wash room, dining area and living room.
To book an appointment or inquire about availability, one must visit the studio’s Web site or call the numbers posted there. One may also check its Facebook page. “Our Web site and Facebook page have been very effective in making easy booking and inquiries in real time,” Mr. Dulay said, adding that the right use of available technology has “greatly increased our advantage to convert leads into customers and build great customer experiences.”
It is important to note that reservation requires a non-refundable P1,000 deposit, and that walk-ins are welcome, but not all the time.
Creative Light charges P550 per hour, the minimum number of photo shoot hours being three. This rate, Mr. Dulay said, is “very competitive” compared with those of other studios. “Students can actually rent the studio for an hour,” he noted, adding that other studios do not allow such short session.
The fee for a shooting that lasts an hour is P650. That is the same hourly amount charged customers who shoot before 8 a.m. and/or after 5 p.m. Paying those amounts not only allows renters to use the studio, but also gives them access to a variety of lighting equipment, many of which are free. There is no camera, though. “We actually expect renters to have their own cameras,” Mr. Dulay said.
Those who are in the studio to have their portraits taken do not need to bring a camera. Mr. Dulay is the in-house photographer, although Ms. Dulay stands in for him on occasion. Each portrait session is worth at least P2,500; how high it goes depends on a customer’s requirements. Of snapping weddings and other special events, Mr. Dulay and Edgar Sañano are in charge.
Ms. Dulay supervises the day-to-day operations and manages the finances of Creative Light Photo Studio, while Mr. Dulay sets the enterprise’s business strategies. They are joined by a lone employee who helps in assisting the customers. The couple have other equally demanding jobs: Ms. Dulay is raising their two kids, while Mr. Dulay is working as a creative director for a Web design agency.
Like all entrepreneurs, the couple want their business to grow but are deeply aware that the key to Creative Light Photo Studio’s success lies in satisfying the needs and wants of its customers. “Right now, we’re planning on improving [further] our services to our customers,” Mr. Dulay said.
They are working to increase the number of photographic paraphernalia the pro and amateur photographers can use, for instance. “The most important thing to us,” Mr. Dulay said, “is giving the best experience to our customers.”