What clicks? Self-shooting studios capture the hearts of the camera shy
Jeyson Cabantog’s Korean drama-loving girlfriend watched an episode of Leprechaun one night in April 2020, when she came across the concept of a self-shoot studio.
She immediately jumped up from the couch she was lounging on to pitch the idea to him, hoping it would breathe new life into their once-thriving photo booth business.
“We had zero clients — those who usually book us for weddings, debuts and corporate events — for a solid year,” Boholano, 29, recalled of his experience during the height of the pandemic. “There was no money coming in and all of our equipment was gathering dust.”
After several months of thinking about the feasibility of a self-shoot photo studio, the couple took the plunge. They laid out their starter arsenal in their redecorated workspace: a professional lighting setup, a tripod-mounted DSLR camera, and a full-length mirror-like TV screen.
And just like that, Nyaman Self Shoot Studio opened in Bohol.
No professional photographer is present in auto-shoot studios like Cabantog’s. Customers are usually given a discreet, palm-sized command to use as a remote shutter.
“You can take as many poses as you want in front of a camera in a limited time,” explains the professional photographer. “Depending on the package you purchased, you can choose which portraits to print and take home.”
The call “to oneself”
It’s only March, but all time slots are sold out through May at ATOMM Studios.
Located along the Batasan Hills in Quezon City, the Philippines’ premier self-photography studio, with two months of advance bookings, shows the overwhelming interest in a private photoshoot experience.
The founding team of seven had to open 125 additional locations – which quickly filled during the day – and extend opening hours to meet growing customer demand.
According to ATOMM Studios Creative Director Merphi Panaguiton, the appeal is that their customers feel “safe and free to be themselves”.
“We wanted to create a safe space for introverts and shy people who want to have their photos taken by professionals,” Panaguiton recalls when the studio was first established.
She also shares that ATOMM’s clientele consists mostly of creatives, young couples, groups of friends, families, pet owners, and people who want to hang out with “me.”
The family business Ssoluz Cafe and Studio, on the other hand, points to romantic partners and barkades like their usual bosses.
“Most boyfriends tend to hold back their corniness towards their beau when a stranger is present during a shoot,” one rep candidly shares her experience with clients. “They’re generally more likely to be sweet and cute with their poses when they’re alone in the privacy of our studio.”
When peals of laughter fill the air at this Taytay, Rizal self-shoot studio-slash-coffeeshop, it just means a closed group of friends are occupying the space. The laughter is brought on by the uninhibited goofy poses they strike when performing alone in front of a camera.
Another draw for studio enthusiasts is the complete card of the day of food and beverages available at Ssoluz Cafe and Studio. “We offer a variety of pastries, beverages and a selection of pasta,” the rep adds.
In Davao, AA Gallery’s unique selling point over other self-shooting studios in the city is that they specialize in producing monochrome photos only.
“Black and white photos never go out of style,” says Andrea Liao Amparo, 25, owner of this pick. She is also the creative director of the auto-photo studio.
Take creative control
Being in front of the camera is part of journalist Chrislen Bulosan’s daily life. Yet she considers herself uncomfortable when posing for a photographer’s picture.
One thing Davaoeña, 25, loves about self-photo studios is that the TV monitor allows him to check his appearance in real time. Thus, it allows him to find his most flattering angle before pressing the remote shutter.
“Another interesting feature about this is that I have a whole half hour to take so many photos of myself and then choose the best ones for review,” Bulosan gushed, referring to his first self-shooting session. solo view at AA Gallery.
For IT project manager Micah Chel Gomez, surprising her financial analyst boyfriend Mark Kevin Lucas with a trip to ATOMM Studios remains one of their most memorable dates as a couple so far.
The duo consider themselves to be the adventurous type, often looking for new experiences to try together. Booking a photo studio for their exclusive use was one of them.
Gomez found that having the space to themselves and moving at their own pace gave them creative freedom in terms of expressing themselves authentically in front of the camera.
“Basically, you can do whatever you feel like doing while filming!” Lucas adds.
A fight for space?
Coin-operated photo booths share several similarities with self-shooting studios – both are self-contained, convenient, and accessible.
With such photo services giving people the independence and ease of making quality portraits, does this mean that traditional studios – those who hire full-time photographers to serve clients – are at serious risk of obsolescence?
Not exactly, says Madison Base, a former in-house lens at one of the nation’s largest photo and video studio chains.
She believes that professional photographers will always have a place in the industry despite the self-shooting studios that are steadily springing up in the Philippines.
Base also claims that self-photo studios offer cheaper packages because they eliminate the middleman in the shooting process: the cameraman. Rates often start at just P300 compared to conventional portrait studios that charge at least P520 minimum.
“It’s important to remember, however, that you’re paying for a professional photographer’s time, signature creative output and wealth of experience when you shell out extra for a traditional photography studio,” says the independent filmmaker. 37 years old.
“Not to mention the human interaction they share with their customers.”
So, Base predicts that traditional photo studios are here to stay. In addition to self-shooting studios and photo booths, the three services basically meet different needs.
“It’s undeniable that there’s a huge market for camera-shy clients,” she notes. “But I’m sure the self-shot service will eventually become a basic add-on option in standard photo studios.” – Rappler.com