Turning Obstacles Into Stepping Stones: Dream Photography Studio

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Iman is a photographer who, through her unique process of coaching and photography, can show a woman what other people see when they look at her. She is passionate about teaching other photographers how to live and be a professional and making change in the world. She dreams of changing the way women look at their bodies and how the world defines beauty. She also thinks being an instructor on CreativeLIVE would be incredible. Iman battles Lyme disease and shares her unique view of dreaming while fighting for her health. Her post day is Wednesday. info@imanwoods.com Iman Woods If you aren't sure how to comment on this story, click here.
Building a photography studio: At one point in the song he just DID this. This kid is magic.

At one point in the song he just DID this. This kid is magic.

When I first started letting myself dream about professional photography, I knew I wanted to master studio lighting. But I did have not space for an actual photography studio. I felt that because I didn’t have a studio, I could not move forward with my photography dreams.

We had a townhouse and as I racked my brain for places to shoot I turned my eyes to my living room. It was perfect.

The furniture needed to be moved, the TV and stairway would be hidden with curtains. I would take down any personal photos and only have my work on the walls. Several days a week we would turn the living room of our town home into a studio. My ex-husband and lots of friends helped with this transformation.

I worried that I wouldn’t look “professional” enough working from my home. Clients usually didn’t realize that I also lived here.

It was a LOT of work, but it functioned nicely. You could not tell by looking at the photos that it wasn’t done in a top notch studio. Pros say the best camera is the one you have with you, no matter how fancy. Many of my favorite photos were taken with my iPhone.

What makes someone a pro is being able to produce amazing results with less than ideal circumstances.

The best photography studio is found in space you already have. Had I not changed my thinking and nursed an unconventional idea, I would not have created the first three pinup paintings that got me in a 1st Friday art show at the Orlando Museum of Art. Nor would I have been on the cover of the Orlando Sentinel.

When we moved back to Colorado there was a huge unfinished basement with concrete floors. It was a much larger space and I was excited. I went to work covering the insulation with white muslin. I set up a dressing room complete with photo screens and put a bench and sheepskin rug to keep bare feet warm between clothing changes.

It wasn’t a perfect photography studio, but it was mine.

My biggest fear was that a client would feel it was not professional. Only person ever made a comment and while that moment was embarrassing, at least it was over and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be in my head. The artwork I created from that shoot was beautiful and the client was very pleased.

Then three years later we bought our “dream home” and I had a glorious 1,100 square feet of FINISHED basement to turn into a healing photography oasis. I adored that space and every person that came down the stairs commented on how lovely it was. This was the part of the house that was hardest to say goodbye to.

This most recent move has had me downsize a bit. Saying goodbye to my last space and having a much smaller space here left me feeling odd. I sort of developed a block and didn’t want to finish the studio because I was sure I couldn’t create a beautiful space.

I had my first hired photo shoot this past weekend and the Bub helped me make the photography studio functional. It’s not PRETTY yet but one half of it looks great. There’s a wood paneled wall painted a nice shade of blue and I decided it would make a lovely backdrop for family photos. So this last studio is like my first studio, it’s not ideal.

It’s not perfect.

The Bub was test subject and these were the result.

My soul sang as I went through the pictures. The studio is perfect if it can capture moments like these.

He asked if he could sing into my beloved antique microphone. I said yes and then out of the blue he made up a heavy metal song,


I almost died laughing but managed to get these shots.

My new photography studio may be little, but it is perfect. And the art that this studio helps create will be the stepping stones I need to get me to my next studio.

Building a photography studio: My little rockstar. NONE of these are posed or coached in any way.

My little rockstar. NONE of these are posed or coached in any way.

Building a photography studio: You can't make this stuff up.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Building a photography studio: Cars and TRUCKS! YEAH!

Cars and TRUCKS! YEAH!

Building a photography studio: His cuteness takes my breath away

His cuteness takes my breath away

Don’t wait for circumstances to be “perfect.” Start your dream regardless of needing “perfection” and notice the magic as it appears.


  • kellyswanson1

    Awwwwww! I LOVE these photos. He is precious, and you are simply gifted. The magic in what you do happens behind that camera – not in the colors of the walls. You truly do show us the beauty in everything. Thank you. I can’t wait for the day I get to be the subject of one of your photo sessions. I was going to wait until I lost weight. But, shoot, I might be ninety by then! :)

  • Love this post :) Your boy is adorable! Hugs from South africa xo

    • ImanWoods

      Thanks Sue! He loves the camera right now too. ;) Hugs from North Carolina!

  • Remy Gervais

    the best camera is the one you have in your hands. The best moments are the ones you are in, right now. Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can. 2014 is yours for the taking and giving, Ms Woods. So happy you are putting the pieces together…xo Remy

    • ImanWoods

      Good things to remember! It’s yours for the taking too Remy!

  • Your son is just too precious and I love how he’s totally into it! The video that Catherine included is perfect and right on target. Ray and I had the same struggle with the “professional studio” solution. You are absolutely correct… most people don’t care these days.

    Congrats on the studio space Iman!

    • ImanWoods

      I’m about to watch it now! Had a crazy day. He stuns me with the way his personality comes out.

  • Your son is too cute. It’s interesting how we all want perfection, but if we waited until everything was perfect to start our dream journey, we’d never get out of bed in the morning. I like what Seth Godin says, “Ship or die.”

    Ship or Die – Seth Godin, on Storyspark on Vimeo.

    • ImanWoods

      Thank you Cath. He is TOO cute! We’re in trouble. I adore Seth Godin and this is brilliant. The way you’ve redone the site and gotten the store so great has inspired me to finish my first ebook to help people take better pictures when they pose for phone cameras. :)

  • Chris N Danielle

    Great photos with an adorable rocker!! Your new studio is going to be fabulous!

    • ImanWoods

      Thank you Danielle! I can’t wait to get your little man in there! I can see the giggles already!