Tom Putt and his Melbourne Experience
One of the things professional photographers struggle with is where do they locate their studio? Sometimes a home studio is all that can be afforded, but when the business is established, do you spend more money on a high visibility studio, or save it and stay at home?
Of course, there isn’t a single answer, but photographer Tom Putt has one of the highest profile studios in Melbourne, Ella+Friends, on the corner of Park Street and Kings Way, South Melbourne. There’s no doubt he is paying high rent, simply because of the location. Is it worth it?
It depends on who your market is, says Tom. His studio photographs dogs, so anyone who owns a dog is a potential client. And people who own dogs drive cars, so there’s a chance they will be passing and see Tom’s window with his ‘Dogs Wanted’ posters!
Tom was originally a sport photographer and around 10 years ago, he started a family portrait studio named after his daughter. “I had been in between jobs, hanging out with the mums’ group when I saw some photographs taken by another photographer and thought I could offer something different.”
So he did, but around two or three years ago, Tom turned the family portrait business into a dog portraiture studio. “We saw an opportunity to position ourselves as THE number 1 dog photographers in Melbourne. We like dealing with dogs and anyone who owns a dog is passionate about their pet, so we also find the clients are lovely to deal with.
“When I started in portraiture, we fumbled around trying to attract clients. Then I met Tero Sade who taught me about charity books, an idea we have now adapted to our dog photography.”
Given the size of his potential market, Tom’s location makes sense. He says around one third of his business comes from his studio windows and location. “I know some clients are just as happy to come to your home as a retail space, but it also depends on the position you want to claim in the market place. The real estate agent said we’d never have to advertise again and it seemed to work like that for a while. However, more recently we’ve found that we can’t be solely reliant on our window displays and we’re also concentrating a lot of our efforts on Facebook.”
Tom Putt is a portrait and landscape photographer in Melbourne. With a background in sport, he also has interests in landscape photography, publishing and leading photography workshops. www.ellaandfriends.com.au; www.inspiredlandscapes.com.