MKE Studio Share – a shared-studio business founded by local portrait photographer Danielle Stoddard – was the backdrop for the Giannis shoot. Before opening the studio in 2013, Stoddard, 35, had been renting space in Walker’s Point while commuting from her Northwest Side home. “I was looking for something like this but it didn’t exist,” she says, and her instinct that other photographers wanted something similar was prescient. MKE Studio Share now has 22 members who use the studio for a monthly fee of $110 that includes nine hours of studio time in three-hour blocks. Daily rentals – the Nike shoot was one – are also available. And she keeps a closet stocked with props and backdrops. After all, if photographers “were going to rent a studio, they’d have to outfit it,” she says.
The studio-share concept – popular in media hubs like New York and Los Angeles – made sense to local photographer Kat Schleicher, who often works on location (and sometimes shoots for this magazine). “The price is right because I’m not there that much,” she says. Paying for her own studio seemed like a wasted expense, yet she sometimes had to turn down work when she didn’t have access to one. Now at MKE Studio Share, she books four shoots per month.
The studio also hosts workshops that draw photographers from all over the country, but Stoddard is happiest when photographers cancel their memberships to open their own studios. “I feel like I’m helping the industry,” she says.