Clean and Bright: Inside a Photographer’s Home Studio Space

Anna Tsoulogiannis’ home is made of all things clean and bright. Which is perfect for her, because her home is also her photography studio space!

After graduating from Toronto Film School, Anna entered the world of television. She was able to travel, taking full advantage of exploring the cities she visited and snapping photos as she went. She began documenting her travels on a blog and learned all she could about photography. Then came an opportunity to become a photographer and videographer full-time and she took it. Next up, she started her own business: Annawithlove. And Anna is currently undergoing a major life change as she is a mom-to-be!

Keep reading to hear more about Anna’s transition to becoming her own boss (she has fabulous advice to share), how her home will evolve with her growing family, and how she created her bright, beautiful home.

Name: Anna Tsoulogiannis
Age: 28
Current job/company: Travel, Portrait & Lifestyle Photographer, Annawithlove
Education: Toronto Film School, Film & Television Production

Persistence, practice, and hard work always pay off. I still have pinch me moments when I stop and think about how I get to do what I love every day. I have so much gratitude every single day.

You transitioned from the world of television to become a photographer. What was that like? 
While working in television I was fortunate enough to travel to attend film festivals. During my spare time, I would walk around the city (usually Paris) and snap away to my heart’s content. I had recently heard of this new world called blogging, so I decided to start a blog to post all my travel photographs.

So when I finally left television, I got a full-time job as the photographer and videographer for Dine To, an online restaurant directory. The transition was pretty seamless as I already had my photography blog on the side. I spent all my free time learning everything and anything I could about photography. I was very fortunate for that position because I was taking photos and creating videos every day—it allowed me to perfect my craft. I get asked all the time about how to improve with photography and it really comes down to practice. The more you do it, the better you get!

I had a monetary number in mind that I wanted to save before going full-time with my own business—and it came faster than I expected! I still remember the feeling of excitement, fear, and oh my gosh what did I just do when driving away from my job on the last day.

That safety net I had saved gave me the freedom (especially in my first six months of being a full-time business owner) to take on a lot of non-paid work for exposure. I was shocked when everything started flowing and I didn’t have to dip into savings nearly as much as I thought I would.

Persistence, practice, and hard work always pay off. I still have pinch me moments when I stop and think about how I get to do what I love every day. I have so much gratitude every single day.

 

 

What does a day in your shoes look like?
It’s always changing, which I love! Lately I’ve tried to make my days a bit more structured. I love experimenting and trying different routines to see what works best—productivity fires me up. Regardless if it’s an office day or a shoot day, I wake up early and am usually at my desk by 7 a.m.

For an office day, I start by sending important emails. Sometimes I’ll have them pre-drafted from the evening before so I just hit send and move on to the next important task. If I have editing to do, I’ll do so first thing in the morning. In the afternoon, I’ll take a break, get out and grab some lunch, run errands for the shop, and in the early afternoon style some vignettes (if I have shoots to do).

On shoot weeks, there is a lot of running around and prepping to make sure we have everything we need, especially the day before. For our popular website/branding photo shoots, I get clients to drop off all props the day before. This way I’ll have everything styled by the next morning when we start shooting.

My schedule is always changing and evolving—I’ve had to get used to working on the fly and sometimes an entire day has to get reworked five times within a few hours. You have to roll with it and adapt—which doesn’t always come naturally to me. Once the baby arrives, I’ll need to experiment to find a new schedule that works best for us!

Little-known fact: Your studio is actually in your home! Tell us about crafting your own home studio.
When I first started out, I was on the hunt for a studio space (which was really difficult to find) until I realized I could use my home space as the studio! For the first six months, there was a big wall unit that I would cover up with white boards when shooting.

It wasn’t always perfect but you have to make it work! I think people forget that. I remember reading the adage: “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.” I get bummed when I hear people just starting out feeling discouraged. They think they need the perfect studio, equipment, connections, etc. And it’s not true at all! You cheat it, get creative, and make it work until you get to the next step. It will come!

We eventually tore down the wall unit and created a proper space to shoot. It’s been challenging always moving backdrops, lights, and equipment, but I love that my creative space is where I live. My clients love it, too. They feel comfortable, safe, and at home. It’s a really relaxing, fun environment on shoot days!

Do you have a favorite project or shoot? 
Oh my goodness, it’s so hard to pick! I’ve had so many favourite ones over the years. Right now, I’m most excited about the upcoming launch of my new Greece Collection for the shop. For photoshoots I get most excited about the ones that are to come, there are always tons of creative ideas swirling around in my mind. Once we get one done, I think great! On to the next!  Always moving forward. When I stop and look back on all the shoots I’ve done, the thing I can’t get over is the look on my clients’ faces when they see their images for the first time. It’s incredibly rewarding.

What do you love most about your job?
I get to be creative every day!

Let’s talk about your home! You have decorated such a beautiful space. How would you describe your style? 
I’ve never thought much about my signature style; I just purchase things I feel drawn to. A lot of the stuff you see we’ve bought over the last few years. If I had to describe it, I would say colorful sophistication—is that even a thing?

My husband and I both naturally gravitate toward color—especially blue and turquoise tones. Given the choice, we always pick something colorful (hence our kitchen faucet). I do feel our style has changed since we were first married; now it’s a bit more refined. We wanted our space to feel fun and  inviting, but not with so much color that it felt tacky.

All the photography prints are from my shop. Both my husband and I love to travel, and we’ve been so many places together—he’s usually with me when I’m shooting for a new collection so the pieces have double meaning for us. We are constantly changing the artwork in our house. Nothing stays the same for too long!

What was your design process like?
We talked about a lot of different ways to camouflage the studio space. It needed to be good for my clients, but mainly good for us. We wanted it to feel cozy, inviting, and comfortable. Adding the curtains and picking a matching one to hide the studio backdrops made it all come together quite nicely. The director’s chairs and plants add that studio vibe without losing the cozy and comfortable feeling. Since I work from home, I needed to feel inspired—especially with lots of coffee table books and magazines around that I’ve collected over the years. Oh and lots of beautiful photographs everywhere.

How did you stick to a budget for decor and furnishings? 
We didn’t have a set budget in mind. There were a few things we splurged on (such as our floors, new bathrooms, and kitchen), but for the rest we went to IKEA! We won’t be in this condo forever so we didn’t want to splurge on too many expensive pieces that (possibly) wouldn’t be used when we bought a home.

What’s your favorite part of living in Toronto?
We’re located just north of the city, a 15-minute drive from the city center. I love our location mainly because we are close to everything! It’s also where I grew up, so it’s the best of both worlds for me. Close enough to downtown and far enough to be able to feel an “escape” from the hustle and bustle of the city. I can’t say I have just one favorite thing about living in Toronto—Toronto has always been home.

Don’t wait for it to be perfect. Perfection causes procrastination. Don’t worry about making it perfect or waiting for the “right time.” That will never come. Create the work you want to create. Even if it’s not perfect, get it done and get it out there! Momentum is everything.

Big congratulations are in order: You’re expecting! How excited are you to welcome a baby into your home?
Thank you! We are beyond excited and feel so grateful—we cannot wait for our little baby to arrive! It will be interesting to see how the space evolves. We are in the process of designing his nursery with Jacquelyn Clark of Lark & Linen. We are transforming our den into a second bedroom and selecting things for a nursery has been so much fun!

Everyone keeps saying how much life changes when you have your first child. And I know they aren’t kidding. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at all anxious about how I’ll juggle my business and being a mom, but I’m excited to figure it out. We have incredible support from our family and friends and I’ve been so drawn to and inspired by other mothers who are running their own businesses. There is inspiration and motivation all around you if you look for it. I know with patience, gratitude, and lots of humor we’ll be OK. I cannot wait to bring him home!

Where do you see yourself five years from now? 
Still doing what I’m doing—except with a separate studio space!

What advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
Don’t wait for it to be perfect. Perfection causes procrastination. Don’t worry about making it perfect or waiting for the “right time.” That will never come. Create the work you want to create. Even if it’s not perfect, get it done and get it out there! Momentum is everything.

Looking back there are so many ideas, projects, and creative projects I wanted to do but didn’t because I waited for the right moment. Or I would say to myself maybe next year when I have…xyz. That never happens, so I’ve learned (and continue to learn) the power of keeping momentum, creativity, and inspiration flowing!

Anna is The Everygirl…

Guilty pleasure? 
Mint chocolate anything, red wine…the list goes on.

Ideal date night?
Anything and anywhere as long as I’m with my Mister, good food, and delicious wine.

Dream vacation? 
Europe, always. I’d start in Paris, spend a few weeks all over Italy, and end in Greece.

Coffee order?
Tall upside-down Americano with one pump white mocha—so good!

 

Product Sources

Living Room
Coffee Tables, IKEA
Pillows, IKEA
Turquoise Blanket, PB Teen
Photo Shelves, IKEA
Photography Prints, Annawithlove Shop
Graphic Prints, SS Print Shop
Silver Frames, Kate Spade
Book Shelves, IKEA
Notting Hill Print, Annawithlove Shop
Santorini Print, Annawithlove Shop
Fireplace, Home Depot
Coffee Table Books, Chapters Indigo
Pink Vase, Kate Spade
Gold Spikes, Chapters Indigo
Paris Square Prints, Annawithlove Shop

Dining Room
Table & Chairs, vintage
Directors Chairs, Pier 1 Imports
Ginger Jar, Joss & Main

Desk Area
Kallax Shelves, IKEA
Raskog, IKEA
Tape Dispensers, Poppin
Mug, Shop Beautifully
Desk, IKEA
Desk Legs, IKEA
Pens, Poppin
Pink Door Print ‘Duchess’, Annawithlove Shop
Square Prints, Annawithlove Shop
Boxes, Emily Ley
Magazine Holders, Emily Ley
Goals Notebook, SS Print Shop
File Folders, Shop ban.do
Planner, Emily Ley
Drawers, IKEA

Kitchen
Shelf, PB Teen
Apron, Anthropologie
Mugs, Anthropologie
Mixer, KitchenAid
Blender, KitchenAid

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