Austin based photographer Jody Horton has been up on our blog quite a few times, but this month we take a special look into where most of his studio shoots take place. Jody spent three years looking for his dream space in Austin, a city with a difficult real estate market to say the least. He went through four different realtors, since most of them were used to doing easy buys and sells, nothing as complicated as finding the perfect daylight space for a photographer. Jody then took on the task of searching for the space on his own for two years, so he could study on his own the different light orientations every space possesses.
At the end of two long years searching solo and hiring people to write letters to prospective properties that weren’t even on the market, he happened to pass by a space and notice what looked like an old “For Sale” sign. It was an old warehouse in pretty bad shape, but a boasting 11,000 square feet, broken into two buildings. He came to find it was an old printing press, radiator shop, and metal recycling center. This ended up being “the one”, and Jody and his team began renovations. It took a year and a half to renovate, and the first phase of the process was completed on January 9th, 2016, with the first shoot taking place inside its doors on January 10th, 2016 for Organic Valley.
Though one can see from the imagery of the space, Jody had recycled wood put on the walls, making the overall feel a mix of steel, old wood, and concrete. There is a 1,000 plus square foot shooting studio, a client lounge below it just a bit smaller in size, post production offices, a large common space, a conference room, and another back studio area. This part that has been renovated is a little over 4,000 square feet, and Jody has been lucky to bring in a number of shoots to the studio such as Organic Valley and Bud Light, which we will talk about at the end of the post.
The lack of having daylight shooting space is extremely limited in Austin, so photographers and videographers alike have to rely on renting houses, airbnb style, to find the ideal location. The experience of how owning his daylight studio has been an extreme game changer for his work. Now having a place to store everything, he has been able to expand his prop and surface library. It allows for Jody to work easily on the fly and present a lot of options to his clients. The space has a certain comfortability to it, with a unique Austin vibe, located right off of the commuter rail line. This accessibility to public transit allows for clients to stay in Downtown Austin, catch the commuter rail, and end up right across the street from the studio. The area in which the studio is located is growing up a lot, with a bar across the street and a pub a short walk away. This location allows for people to explore Austin more and helps them create a production in Texas that would usually be shot in New York or Los Angeles.
Back in November of 2016, Jody had the TracyLocke creative team down from New York to work on a project for Bud Light, with production help from a producer on the TracyLocke Dallas team. It was a rapidly developing shoot that came together in a week, but while hectic, it was a challenge he was happy to take. With a short timeline like this, Jody try to keep producing in house to keep all hands on deck, not having to rely on someone whose not present for the entire pre-production.
Jody was the person to scout several restaurants in town for potential locations, as well as the residential spots they were to shoot at. Most of the campaign they were pushing was on pairing Bud Light with food, which is most likely why they chose Jody for the job. The general ideas were food and beer in bars, steps of an apartment, mostly with an urban feel. He was to shoot six different scenarios or so on the first day in a lot of different ways. The shoot crew consisted of two full production days, with 6 talent, two stylists and their assistants, a food stylist and their assistant, as well as a prop stylist. The first day was shot at a local bar called Whistler he had chosen and sold the client on, because it had several mini sets within it. The second day was shot in a residential house not too far from the studio. All of the staging was done there, of several different potlucks and a backyard BBQ. Though he had to shove three days of production into two days, the clients loved the final products.