For hobbyist photographers, hiring a studio space might feel like a luxury. However, many students and professionals want and need the flexibility, creative control, and facilities that a dedicated studio can provide. Studios are often kitted out with the best photography lighting kit, (opens in new tab) which is something to factor in if you're worried about the cost.
Sugar Studios (opens in new tab) is one of London’s most versatile production and event spaces, based in Greenwich on the banks of the River Thames. The brainchild of the creative minds behind MDM Props (opens in new tab), Sugar Studios was established a couple of years ago, and in that time has hosted shoots from clients such as BMW Mini, Sainsbury’s, Adidas, and even Usain Bolt.
• Studio portrait lighting: essential tips and setups explained
Sugar Studios is located in an old brick warehouse – very London – and it's become a big fixture in the local creative community. It's also championing emerging studio talent, and by partnering with Ravensbourne University has already seen a myriad of relationships blossom with creative students.
We caught up with Sugar Studios to find out more about the space and its ethos – as well as its legendary cheese toasties.
Tell us more about Sugar Studios...
MDM directors came up with the idea 4 years ago to create a rehearsal space for the theatre companies that they were building sets for, and so the Big Space was built in the warehouse that they use to build props, theatre sets and shop windows. It naturally progressed into a studio space.
Sugar Studios now sees Music Videos, Adverts, Social Media Content, Youtube videos, Feature Films, and TV Shows as well as theatre rehearsals. Clients include Sony Music, Warner Music, The National Theatre, Adidas, John Lewis, MTV and way way more.
Sugar Studios now has an event and alcohol license and has hosted various events from Sofar Sounds, Nab events networking day, Supper clubs, Yoga and fitness classes with the hope to venture into community projects and workshops as well as becoming a venue that can be hired for an event.
Where did the name come from?
Sugar studios used to be an old Tate and Lyle sugar refinery and still had the old Sugar Hopper full of old Sugar in place until not that long ago!
Who makes up the Sugar Studios team?
Everyone who works at Sugar Studios is also involved in other creative industries somehow! It was Founded by the MDM directors (John & Nigel).
What makes your studio space different?
At Sugar Studios, it’s not just about the use of the spaces (although they’re pretty great as well!) Everyone who works here is well and truly part of the culture and we aim to create a whole experience for our clients.
As you walk in, Kira at the front desk will greet you with her huge smile and cheeky scouse accent. Her pup, Abel, has become quite the studio star, being used for various impromptu shoots including Schuh kids. We have our catering team that will bend over backward to host all your dietary requirements and bake you the MOST delicious homemade brownies around….(the toasties aren’t half bad either).
You’ll see the friendly faces of our Social Media and PR managers around taking BTS content. And our studio manager will be on call all throughout the day, whenever you need.
Teamwork makes the dream work, and here at Sugar we want each of our clients to become not only repeated clients but also familiar friendly faces!
Then there are the spaces. We have one of the largest infinity coves in London, free parking, an old food truck serving delicious food, and an alcohol license for wrap parties and after-shoot drinks.
We read that you've got one of the biggest infinity cove studios in London?
Yes, we do! It's 12.8 meters wide, 11.5m long, and 9.2 meters high.
Tell us how you're championing young creative talent in London.
We've hosted the Ravensbourne University Film course at our studios for two full terms, offer free space to uni students making their end-of-year film projects as well as discounts to any ex-Ravensbourne students
We are hosting monthly Sofar sounds events showcasing some of London’s up-and-coming musical talent.
Steph and Jo at Sugar Studios are also becoming Mentors for a ‘Break the Wall’ TV and film mentorship program for lower socio-economic backgrounds 16 - 24-year-olds.
We've even set up some workshops and talks for the local community including fitness, well-being, yoga events, art classes, and industry talks.
Sugar Studios is seemingly one of London's coolest spaces to hire if you're a professional, but what about those of us who aren't in the UK, or if you want some general advice for a smaller studio near you?
Studio photography is one of the most intimidating photographic pursuits. It requires you to not only be a master of your camera but have knowledge about lighting, posing, and more. The results that can be achieved with a simple but solid studio setup can look impressively high-end and professional, though – and it isn't all as confusing as it seems.
If you want to know more about studio photography, check out our advice on lighting setups for professional portraits, and 8 portrait photography mistakes.
You might also like our guide to the best lens for portraits and the best professional cameras (opens in new tab).