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May 29, 2020

What’s in Your Studio? See How James Ferrara Transformed an Old Firehouse Into the Studio of His Dreams!


Through trial and error, and after moving his studio three times, PPA member James Ferrara, was finally able to create the studio of his dreams in his fourth and final location. The Dark Room is no ordinary studio space; it's a renovated 1600 square foot firehouse, complete with high ceilings and 3 multipurpose apartments.

“I bought the building 10 years ago and wanted the space to be not just for taking photos,  but to be used as a private lounge, which it is. I rent it out quite often,” says Ferrara. 

After frequenting bars and restaurants over the years, Ferrara wanted to recreate that same atmosphere within his studio. He created an inviting space where people could stay for hours and truly enjoy themselves.

To capture an amazing photo session, Ferrara stresses the need for large light sources. In his experience,  having high ceilings in the studio helps. 

When it comes to meeting areas, Ferrara wants his clients to feel comfortable. This means warm lighting, a clean space, comfortable seating, and taking time to help clients feel at home.

“I always offer them something to drink, and I never jump right into business. I make them feel at home,” says Ferarra.

As for the decor in the meeting room, the simpler the better. “No need to cover the walls with photos, just highlight your absolute favorites and make the space look like a gallery rather than a showcase of your work,” Ferarra suggests.  He also says that if you're planning to show images on a TV, the bigger the better.

If his studio isn’t in party mode, Ferrara shifts his clients to the backspace for their sessions. There is also a makeup section in that area as well. Now and then he uses the entire studio space to capture the chemistry between his clients.

When it’s time to host a party, Ferrara has to take care of a few housekeeping details. Since all of his lighting is on wheels,  he simply has to wheel it all behind a curtain, tidy up a little, and it’s time for the event.

“I have someone tending bar, I host and photograph the party. If there are around 25 people, I can even open up the portrait section of the studio and offer a high-end photo booth.”

Since his studio space is inspired by restaurants and bars, it’s no surprise that Ferrara’s favorite spot in the studio is—you guessed it—the bar! This private bar is only open to parties and clients.


“Whenever another photographer sees the studio, they always say the same thing: this is seriously the coolest studio I've ever seen by a landslide.” 


Thanks for letting us peek into your studio, James!

If you would like your studio to be featured in the “What’s in Your Studio?” segment of our blog, all you need to do it fill out this form! We can’t wait to see and showcase YOUR studio!