Photography is an expensive and lonely profession, but Reno’s Hatch aims to make it a little less of both.
Hatch is a membership-based studio for photographers, videographers and artists. It was launched in April by Jeramie Lu, a local photographer, and Ron Kots, a customer service and sales executive and budding photographer.
The idea for the studio was hatched by Lu, who earlier in the year was planning on moving his photography business into bigger space.
“I shoot a lot of weddings and I would rent out my smaller studio. When I wanted to upgrade my studio I knew I wouldn’t be there much and I wanted to take the rental people with me,” says Lu.
The key change was the decision to make it a membership-based operation.
“Membership is more reliable. If they pay a membership, they would keep it as their own,” says Lu. “I wanted a place where everyone could create together.”
Lu also wanted to help out the community of photographers, who can struggle under the burden of the profession’s costs.
“One light can cost between $400 and $1,000 and you might need four lights for a shoot,” says Lu.
So Hatch outfitted the studio with all kinds of equipment — lights, backdrops, reflectors — as well as makeup and dressing rooms, sets and props and storage for their own gear.
Membership starts at $170 per month. Members get round-the-clock access to two studios, the main 4,500-square-foot space on Washington Street and a 1,200-square-foot, natural light studio on California Avenue. An online booking system lets them reserve the space in advance.
Hatch currently has 58 members and gradually adds members to make sure the studio can accommodate the traffic.
“I allow five to seven members then cap it for a month to see how it’s working,” says Lu. “At this point, once we get three more members, I’m going to build a new location.”
Lu is negotiating now with the landlord for additional space in the three-story, Washington Street building that houses the main studio.
He also has feelers out for hard-to-find downtown warehouse space big enough to drive a car into and hopes to open it this summer for Hot August Nights and other automobile events.
Lu is also working out the reduced pricing for a student-level membership.
“We’re ready to launch a student membership now. I want it to be affordable but at a rate they take it seriously,” says Lu.
Lu sees part of his role as mentoring some of the studio’s members. Photographers, he says, often go it alone and are reluctant to seek help with everyday work questions.
One thing he wasn’t expecting, though, was some of the uses members would invent for Hatch and the camaraderie it has created.
“It’s not just a studio, it’s become a community,” says Lu. “Last night 10 members came in and played cards. I didn’t expect everyone to become friends.”