Welp, time has got oozy again and just seems to fly past when I blink – but as I’ve been in my glorious new studio space for nearly nine months I figured it was high time I did a little introduction and let you see it!

You might have seen odd snippets on Instagram, both here and on my art photography account @carlawphoto, but I don’t think I’ve done anything proper in terms of showing it off. So, here goes!

Unintended upheaval

I hadn’t intended to move, although I had been keeping my eyes open because we’d had some issues at Ardleigh – but after six years there, the idea of packing and relocating all my stuff was very stressful.

However, I got home from a client shoot & holiday in Cornwall to an email saying that fan heaters were banned, and they wouldn’t budge on this decision, so off I went in search of a new space.

While I briefly contemplated trying to form a collective or CIC to run a bigger space, I realised I have neither the time nor the expertise to do that right now, so focused my search on actual spaces I could use just for me. ‘

Fortune favoured the brave / foolhardy and there were spaces available at Wivenhoe Business Centre, down on the river and not far from home, so I went to have a look and there was the most perfect space there. Here they are as I viewed them – but I could see the potential!

Four images of three empty rooms with furniture in them - as they were when I viewed them

I initially planned on just having the studio room, then Mum came with me for a second viewing and talked me into the office & reception/gallery space too, and I am so glad she did – this little suite of rooms is my ideal setup! (these pics are from when I’d just started to move in)

Moving chaos

Once I’d handed in my notice, I promptly panicked because what was actually quite a sparsely furnished studio when I started it in 2018 was a wonderland full of immense amounts of STUFF by the end of 2023. As you will be able to imagine if you’ve ever been in a space I am responsible for!

But I managed to get it packed and labelled, even had a system for finding what was in which box when I got to the other end.

Hired myself a van to move everything in and am still having anxiety dreams about getting it round the corner by the deli… but all went without a hitch, and lovely people helped me cart everything up the stairs.

And here’s the final photo of me in Studio 19 – which was a perfect first studio, and being part of the community there has been amazing for me. But onwards and upwards!

Making the new space mine

I’d inherited some decent but not especially pretty furniture with the unit, so painting the desks was next on the list – here’s the post about that, with lots of gratitude to Annastasia Ward and my lovely Mum. And props to Sophie James Decor Paint and Revamp Boutique where I bought it.

Having taken the plunge to move my office over here as well, I was on a mission to make the space feel as Carla as possible – and I think I succeeded! From custom cork board frames to hold all my little ornaments to wire memo boards for papery prettiness, as well as bringing some of my favourite decor and art from home, it makes me smile every time I walk in.

The best thing I did was install a gallery system in the reception space, so I can change which frames are hanging there whenever I want without making more holes. I wish I’d known this existed when I was doing my house, it would have saved lots of dodgy holes in the plaster!

This is mainly a mix of my brand & art photography, like a mini portfolio – but I will change it up for things like the Wivenhoe Art Trail, or if I want to make a feature or story of something. I love the flexibility!

There’s a communal kitchen next door but I’ve kept my little fridge from Studio 19, because it’s nice to be able to have fizzy drinks and chocolate on hand. Plus it’s an excuse to have all my quirkiest mugs, tins and jars out on display!

Inside the office

Here are some photos of the office (and me in it!) now – bright, colourful, decent internet and full of things which make me smile. The perfect workspace!

Inside the studio

The studio space has the MOST INCREDIBLE deep cupboards all along one side – my lovely landlord offered to take them out but they’re perfect for keeping all my kit, costumes, craft stuff and tools accessible but hidden. And it’s much easier to keep tidy when everything lives behind doors!

Furniture is all the same as the old studio – everything serves dual purpose, especially in a small space, so my chaise longue and big velvet chair live in here for meetings and also for posing on, my cube units are full of costumes, props and delightfully also have space for books in here.

Obviously mermaid tails get everywhere…

I don’t use the studio much for brand photos – occasionally for headshots, but mainly it’s for self portraits, filming content and of course art/fantasy/mermaid shoots for the other side of my business.

My old big rolls wouldn’t fit, so I now have some gorgeous painterly fabric backdrops, and another couple on my wishlist.

It took me a while to figure out lighting, which I’ll post about separately, but I am now sorted and excited and have even managed to make tethered shooting work once or twice, though would recommend not using an 18 year old monitor for that!

And finally, I got some signage in at last! Full rundown is over on the art photography site, but here’s a sneaky pic of my main sign:

And that’s my new space – the VOA accepted my request to merge them, so although technically this was two units, and there’s another front door behind my backdrops, it is one studio and one address, and everything I ever wanted out of a studio/office.

The studio room is available to hire for photography and also workshop purposes, I’m just figuring out the finer details and getting the page up & running, but shout if that’s of interest.

I’m here incredibly sporadically because of being out for shoots and with clients, but am open by appointment and also for walk in chats on some days if the board is out the front and says OPEN, so give me a shout and come for a cuppa!

Find me at 27 & 30 Wivenhoe Business Centre, Brook Street, Wivenhoe CO7 9DP.