Business + Marketing

The Home Studio Advantage

July 13, 2023

By Abbey Pleviak

Allie Serrano is a Tampa-area portrait photographer who specializes in branding and boudoir. She recently caught up with Nikki Closser on The Portrait System Podcast to talk about her business and why she has made the decision to work out of a home studio for the past seven years. 

Serrano was born in the former Czech Republic in what is now called Czechia. She moved to the US when she was 18. For many years, Serrano was a photography hobbyist, taking photos on the weekends as she developed her craft. Then suddenly, in 2016, her best friend unexpectedly passed away from a brain aneurysm in her sleep. This tragic loss caused Serrano to deeply question her life’s path and encouraged her to focus on living in a more meaningful way. In considering what would make her truly happy, Serrano realized it was time to get serious about photography. 

Over the course of her business, Serrano has had four different home studios that exemplify some of the many ways to do it. To begin, she used a simple backdrop that she could set up as needed in her living room. In her next space, she dedicated two rooms in her home to photography – one held the reveal wall and had space for hair and makeup. The other was her permanent studio set up with backdrops and lighting. Her previous space was ideal with two bedrooms and a kitchenette dedicated to her studio. Unfortunately, it was a rental and the owner decided to sell, so Serrano needed to find another space quickly.

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Her current studio is in a home she and her partner purchased in Apollo Beach, Florida, near Tampa. In the beginning she had a dedicated room in it, but she is temporarily letting her nephew stay there. This puts Serrano back to setting up her living room when she sees clients, that is, when she isn’t taking her many real estate clients on location for shoots. Serrano says the realtors she works with, “want to be outside with the blue sky, with the waterfront homes . . . That’s what [they] want to showcase most of the time.” 

When shooting in her home lounge, Serrano has the challenge of juggling roommates during shoots. If a client has cat allergies, her cats spend time on the lanai during the session and Serrano does a deep cleaning beforehand. If it is a boudoir shoot, her nephew and boyfriend take a day on the town to give them lots of space and privacy. While having a home portrait studio comes with some challenges, Serrano is dedicated to keeping one for the time being. With Tampa area business space rentals starting at $2,500, the economics make keeping a home studio a big advantage.

© The Portrait System

To learn more about Serrano’s business, visit Allie Serrano Portraits

The Portrait System Podcast helps portrait photographers navigate the world of photography, business, money, and much more. Hosted by Nikki Closser, the podcast is powered by The Portrait System, a comprehensive, online educational platform that teaches all aspects of running a successful portrait photography studio.