Planting the Seed
Last summer we'd spent a lot of time talking about Justin opening his own photography studio. Trouble was all the spaces he found in Brighton were ridiculously priced plus he had no one to look after the business and client side of things while he was busy doing the photography. By the end of the year the subject had pretty much been dropped, but then fate came along and tapped us on the shoulder, whispering a suggestion, or more accurately banged our heads together and pointed out the bleeding obvious!
Our Lightbulb Moment
Sometimes an opportunity comes along that's just too good to ignore. A little while ago Justin did a fashion shoot for Covet, a ladies clothes store with a small boutique in The Lanes and a larger shop on Church Road. Lyn, the owner, called him to say she had some basement space available under her store and did he know anyone who might be interested. We were down there like a shot, looking past the boxes and shabby decor we could both see the potential and started getting excited. An hour and a couple of pints later we'd hatched a plan: Justin had the photography covered and I had the business and client management experience to do the rest. Sorted.
Blood, Sweat & Tears
We agreed a deal with Lyn and promptly went our separate ways for Christmas. Returning in the new year we wasted no time stripping out the carpets, moving sockets and prepping the walls. We're both pretty handy but neither of us had built anything like a cyclorama before. With a little research and YouTube viewing we drew up a plan, calculated what we needed and ordered the wood. Travis Perkins did us proud with a great discount and free delivery. Getting it all downstairs was a tough day's work, earning us a few scuffed knuckles. Then we were off, drilling and fixing battens, cutting the 30+ ribs to support the curves and fixing MDF sheets and a skin of flexible ply over the top. There were a lot of long days and late nights, times we had to go back to the drawing board and several cuts and scrapes along the way, one finger almost got lost to the circular saw, but the cyclorama was done. Well not quite.
Fill + Sand + Repeat
The thin covering of plywood made the surface of the walls, curves and floors pretty smooth, but the joints and cove itself needed to be filled and sand to blend them in. We thought it would be a quick job. How wrong we were. Two weeks and 20 tins of ISOPON P38 car filler later Justin was still in there filling and sanding! He's a perfectionist after all. A great trait for a photographer and for this job too. His exacting standards, determination and patience paid off in spades giving us a perfect finish to our infinity curve. All that was left to do was apply a coat of primer, two coats of undercoat and four coats of Dulux Diamond White matt emulsion and then it was ready.
Staying On Brand
The office, courtyard and stairway were next. With the logo done (big thanks to a designer friend Matthew), we decided to bring the hexagon design in on the picture shelves and coat hooks. Steve, another clever friend who works at award-winning agency DesignLSM, recommended our brand colours for the entrance stairway and suggested OSB panelling for the chimney breast (very en vogue). After cleaning out the pigeons in the courtyard and roofing that over, we added a final coat of paint and we were finally done. Three months of hard graft and we had an office and studio that looked the business.
Now the hard work was really about to start. Within a week we had our first client, a massive shoot that just kept growing, and more followed from there. Sometimes in life you have to listen to the whispers in your ear and believe the dream, just like Kevin Costner.
We hope you enjoyed the build story. If you have any questions about how we did it, what materials we used and what we would do differently then give us a shout. Below are just a few of the pictures we took. If you want to see more of them then head over to our Facebook page and take a look.
Greg & Justin