Note: We have additional FAQ pages for Education Membership, Studio Membership, and for Current SOPHA Members regarding the addition of Education Membership on 1/1/17.


When and how do I pay for my studio rental?

Non-members will pay for their studio time when they book on the phone.  Members pay for studio time when they check out.  We accept cash and major credit cards.  We accept checks from established customers only.

What hours can I book studio time? What hours are you open?

Studio time can be booked for pretty much any hour you like. And while we do get a smidge cranky early in the morning and late at night, we routinely get 8am bookings and stay past midnight if the need arises. Note that our office hours at from noon to 8pm daily. Office hours are the time that we answer the phone and email, staff the front desk, and have our doors open – even when the studio is not booked.

Can I rent the studio for a whole day?

Certainly. We do not have a day rate, however. We rent our studio by the hour. See our section on rates.

When I book studio time, can I bring in my favorite aardvark?

SOPHA is a pet friendly facility as long as the pet is friendly to others. Please know three things: SOPHA is not responsible for your pet, New Hampshire is a strict liability state, and SOPHA will hold you responsible for any damage the pet causes (and this includes “accidents” – we don’t clean accidents and any textiles are discarded and the photographer billed fully).

When I rent studio time can I bring a friend to shoot with me?

Generally no. SOPHA rents the studio to one photographer for one hour – that is our “unit of merchandise.” You are welcome to bring assistants, stylists, sherpas, gnomes – anyone to make your shoot meet your needs. The photographer renting the studio is the only person allowed to use a camera in the studio. A second photographer, if permitted, must have gone through the SOPHA Orientation, and being paying an hourly fee.

Why does everyone hate glitter so much?

Glitter is an evil substance that ruins lives and should be banned. But in all seriousness, glitter in any form, in any quantity is exceptionally difficult to clean up. We are a photography studio and all our walls and floors are sets. As such, glitter looks HORRIBLE in photographs as the shining glints are very difficult to remove. If you are found with glitter, your shoot will end, and you will be asked to leave the property. Seriously. Our cleanup fee starts at $250 and is billed at $45 per hour per staff member. The last glitter cleanup was over $350. Please see our tips on reducing the risks of glitter tragedy.

Is it ok to bring my own props?

You may bring in any prop you like provided it safe, does not use flame, does not contain glitter, and is cannot damage SOPHA property. Please see our statement on firearms in the studio.

Can I bring a firearm onto SOPHA property?

Certainly. We respect your Second Amendment rights, and as long as you are following New Hampshire’s laws, we are fine with you carrying a firearm. However, all firearms should remain holstered at all times. Know that an unholstered firearm could easily be considered a hostile act and we want to have zero risk for any misunderstanding. If you are bringing a firearm to use as a prop, please speak with the staff before your shoot. All firearms entering the studio for prop purposes must be unloaded and in an appropriate case. DO NOT bring uncased long guns into the studio. As always, we appreciate your questions and will gladly answer them. Oh, and if the use of your lawfully concealed firearm should be necessary, we would appreciate excellent marksmanship. Thank you.

My photographer friend is interested in SOPHA how do I schedule a tour?

Call or email the office to schedule a tour. If a member would like to give the tour, just let us know. Tours are scheduled when the studios can be seen – typically during a time slot when all studios are open, or during the brief gaps between shoots. We don’t interrupt shoots for studio tours.

What type of a light meter and triggers do you provide?

SOPHA uses the Sekonic L358 flash meters, along with Pocket Wizard Plus X and Plus 3 radio transmitters. Our Sekonic meters have the Pocket Wizard Module installed.

Do you have a list of reliable models and makeup artists?

While we are not an agency, we do have a mental list of local models and makeup artists that we have used in the past.  You might try posting in our SOPHA Community facebook group.

Is there Wi-Fi?

Yes, we recently came out of the Stone Age and installed Wi-Fi. We also have running water and indoor toilets. But seriously, just ask us for the password – no biggie. Oh, and please don’t use our Wi-Fi to download your illicit aardvark videos; do that at home.

Can I ask for assistance if I need it?

We are glad to help. We can help you move a piece of furniture around the studio, help you figure out why a piece of gear is malfunctioning (hint: often it is user error, but we have your back). We will tell you how you might light something and help you trouble shoot. What won’t we do? We won’t do it for you, and we won’t give you a private class or tutoring (we offer both, for a fee). In short, ask and we will let you know how we can help.

What is the cancellation policy for studio rentals?

While we have had different policies in the past, as of July 1, 2014, if you book studio time, you own it.  We don’t allow cancellations or swaps, we don’t issue credits or refunds.  If you book it, you own it.

How many photographers are allowed to shoot at a time?

One, unless prior arrangements are made. If a second photographer is found to be shooting your time, even if it is “just for a few frames” you will be asked to leave. Your feet might even touch the floor on the way out, but we can’t guarantee it.

What if I break a piece of equipment?

Please bring it to the attention of the staff immediately so we can get you a replacement. You will be responsible for all repair costs. Reasonable wear and tear is, of course, excepted at our sole discretion. Folks, everyone breaks something eventually – we won’t rake you over the coals or bring out the shock batons, but we will ask you to pay to fix it. Example: the average repair on a dropped studio light is about $90.

Can I play music during the shoot?

Certainly. A stereo with and iPod/MP3/computer jack is supplied in each studio. Because Studio B is adjacent to our office, we may ask you to limit your music’s volume or selection. Oh, and if you are moving objects across the floor with speaker vibration, we will probably resort to asking you to keep it down – but honestly, it is rare we have to say something.

How much weight can the hook over the white cyclorama in Studio A sustain?

The hook has held the weight of three adults without problems. Hang anvils and/or pianos at your own risk. In fact, anything you hang is, of course, at your own risk.

What is the average temperature the studios are kept at during working hours?

We set the furnace to 70 during the winter.  While we are in an old mill building, we have done everything we could to insulate for winter.  Oh by the way: we are fully air conditioned and shoot for 75 in the summer.

Is there a limit on how much studio time I can book?

Yes. You can only book as much time as you can pay for.

When can I take a tour of SOPHA?

Tours can be scheduled with the office at a time of mutual convenience.

If I bring my favorite aardvark in to shoot playful photos with a ring-tailed lemur. Are there any restrictions or applicable fines? If so what would they be?

All lemurs must be leashed, and the fine for lemur damage starts at $95.

I’m new, which of the two studios do you recommend?

Between the two studios, we have 30 sets. Each space is different, and our current sets can be seen on our facebook page.

Can I use the loading dock to load in my gear?

Using the alley door is possible year round but only recommended for larger items. SOPHA Staff are the only persons permitted to open our loading dock door and staff must be present the entire time the door is open. As always, please talk with the office ahead of your shoot so we can be ready to accommodate your needs.

Is the alley way outside considered another studio and should I book time for that?

Many folks shoot in our alley. First, watch out for cars. When those Jazzercise people leave, it looks a bit like the Dakar Rally, so please use care. Anyone can shoot in our alley as it is a (mostly) public place. If you want to use SOPHA’s gear you have two options: one, rent a studio, and then you can take our gear outside – our rule is that the gear can go outside if you are within a block of SOPHA. The second option is just to rent gear from us – we have everything you need.

Can I take SOPHA gear outside during my studio rental?

Yes. This happens often with photographers shooting high school seniors – they shoot formal and casual studio shots indoors, and then create a few images outdoors. You can take SOPHA gear outdoors as long as you are still renting studio time and are within one or two blocks of SOPHA on foot. This general rule has worked well for us. Please bring specific questions to the attention of staff.

Does SOPHA have security cameras in the studios?

No. SOPHA maintains an extensive security camera system which covers inside and outside our space with daylight and night vision capable cameras. These cameras are recorded locally and to the cloud. No cameras are present inside our studios – the cameras are in all common spaces however. We do not record audio.

Can non-members use your studios?

We welcome non-members. Anyone renting our space must have gone through our orientation before using the studio. Non-members must pay in full at the time of booking, and do so knowing we do not allow for cancellations, changes, moves, or credit. Simply put, once you book your time, you own it. We also exercise a two hour minimum rental for non-members.

Can non-members rent gear?

Yes. We take extra security precautions however, and non-members obviously do not receive the member’s discount. SOPHA reserves the right to refuse to rent gear to anyone for any reason. Always call ahead to be sure we have what you need in stock.

Will you ship rental gear to my home?

No. Please see our friends at Lens Pro To Go if you need gear shipped to your home.

Can my friend pick up my rental gear?

Certainly, but in this case your friend will be the actual renter and must undergo our security procedures and they are the ones on the hook for the gear.

What will you do if I don’t return the rental gear on time?

First, we will call you. Things happen. If we don’t hear from you right away, we will assume the gear is stolen and file a police report almost immediately. We also have a pack of ferocious porcupines on standby alert. And a hummus catapult.

Where can I park when I visit SOPHA?

Ample street parking exists around SOPHA, on Merrill Street, Willow Street, and Elm Street. Please don’t parallel park on Merrill Street such that you block the entrance to Ron’s parking lot.

Can I extend my booked studio time?

Yes, as long as another photographer is not booked after you. Always speak to the staff immediately so we can be certain we can accommodate you – maintenance activities are performed during breaks in the schedule and may need to be accommodated.

What if my shoot runs over time?

We are very candid about this: you must clear out the studio and return it ready for use before the end of your reserved time. Shoots that run over are billed a full hour fee. Example: your shoot is scheduled from 9am to 11am. You must be completely out of the studio, and the studio ready to use for the next photographer, at 11am sharp. The one hour fee is applied at 11am sharp, we do not give any leeway. Further, if another photographer is booked behind you and you cause them to start late, there is an additional $45 fee. We don’t have to charge these fees often, as folks understand we are merciless in charging them, so folks don’t run late here at SOPHA. Ever.

Can I use body paint in my shoot at SOPHA?

Yes, but be certain that you take such accommodations to protect the floors and sets in the studio. We have seen this accomplished with the use of disposable tarps and such. We do not have a shower for public use. While we support the expression of your art, do keep in mind that we charge a significant cleaning fee to pick up after any studio user.

What is SOPHA Salon?

Salon is SOPHA’s monthly image review night. Members can submit images in advance through our online system. Then during the event all members in attendance candidly review the images one-by-one. Members can invite a guest (who can submit images for review too, but only once) or bring a significant other (who does not submit images).

Is it okay that I submit an image to Salon that I did not create at SOPHA?


Are there restrictions on images that can be submitted for Salon?

We would prefer not to censor member-submitted images. We encourage members to balance their art with the suitability for public display. While artistic nude images are routinely presented, we could imagine that images exist that might push our boundaries. You are always welcome to ask the opinion of the staff.

What is included in my studio rental?

Unlike any other studio we know of, our studio rental includes gear. We include props, studio lights, wireless triggers, light modifiers, backgrounds, and grip gear. In short, a photographer only needs to bring their camera bag.

What light modifiers do you have?

We have the entire Paul Buff catalog. We have small, medium, large, giant, strip, and octadome softboxes, the full line of parabolic light modifiers, reflectors, grids, beauty dishes, gels – in short, if you need it, we have it, and we have spares.

What types of studio lights do you have?

Each studio is outfitted with five Einstein E640 studio lights. One Einstein is permanently attached to that studio’s Octadome.  The Einsteins are adjustable to 1/10th f/stop and can put out up to 640 watt/seconds. At times you will find Alien Bee B800 units in the studio while lights are out for service. All our light modifiers can fit on any studio light.

What types of light stands do you use?

We have a large quantity of light stands, from the heaviest c-stands to the smallest backlight stands. Most folks use our c-stands as they are super sturdy.

What is the power situation in the studios?

Each of our studios has great 120v AC power. We make sure that we have at least five dedicated 20amp circuits per studio so that your gear could not trip our breakers. Further each space has a series of ceiling mounted cord reels with 50 foot extension cords. These reels speed up your set up and break down time greatly.

Is set up and break down time included in my rental?

Your rental is door to door – all of your set up and break down must occur within the time you book. If you start early or run late, there will be significant extra charges. Please see the staff for a complete explanation of our rules and rates.

Can I cancel my studio time?

No.  Once you book studio time, you own it.

I have a question not covered in this FAQ.  What can I do to get an answer?

Contact the office! We are truly glad to help.

What is “studio orientation” and why is it required?

We require that any photographer shooting in our studio go through our orientation. This one hour session is scheduled at a time of mutual convenience. The purpose is to show photographers how to use our space, introduce you to our gear, and to assure that it can be used without damage. Orientation is waived for folks who take our KickStart Studio Lighting class.

I see that studio orientation is waived for folks who take the KickStart Studio Lighting class. Why?

Participants in our KickStart Studio lighting class get all the information that would have been covered in orientation and a whole lot more. A standard orientation would be redundant.

Do you give discounts/sales/make special deals?

It has always bothered us that one customer might pay a different rate than another. We don’t think this is a fair way to price any product or service, and to that end, we only offer a standard discount to our members and it is applied consistently.

Why doesn’t SOPHA have voicemail? How come I can’t get you on the phone?

We do have voicemail but you will have to let the phone ring a long time to get it.  Candidly, we find voicemail… rude. Somehow our customer service values aren’t furthered by having folks leave voicemail. Please simply call again, send an email, or drop in during our regular business hours. We realize that this is quirky, but we do not have an office staff. Further, we generally don’t answer the phone when we are with a customer in person – we figure that if someone took the time to come down to SOPHA (or they are shooting in the studio), that they should get our undivided attention.

Do you have a kitchen?

We have a small kitchenette equipped with a microwave, toaster oven, Keurig coffee machine, and sink. If you want to heat up your lunch, this is not a problem. If you need to use our kitchen to prep items for your shoot (i.e. food product photography) please let the staff know in advance.

Do you have a first aid kit?

Yes, SOPHA is equipped with a rather spectacular first aid kit, owing to the fact that SOPHA is owned by a paramedic. We also have an AED wall mounted in the common kitchen just in case. If you need help, please let the staff know. Obviously.

During my studio rental I have broken a (insert gear name here). Am I responsible to fix it?

Yes, you are responsible for the cost of the repair. We will take care of facilitating the repair and bill you accordingly. If we discover damage that was not disclosed, we would be very unhappy and we would unleash a hut of angry ukulele-wielding beavers at your discretion.

Do you have a facebook presence?

Currently we have a SOPHA business page which gives current events and description of who we are and what we do. We also maintain two groups: an open “group” for the SOPHA Community at large and a closed group for SOPHA members only. If you are a current member and would like to be invited to the SOPHA Members group, please let someone in the office know.

We need to have pizza/takeout food delivered during our shoot. Is this okay?


What if I go over on booked studio time?

We run a tight schedule here at SOPHA – one hour is sixty minutes. You must entirely vacate the studio before the end of your rental period. If you have rented from 1pm to 3pm, you must be out of the space such that the next photographer can enter at 3pm. Going over your booked studio time by even one minute will incur another full hour’s rental fee. If you cause another photographer to start late, there is also an additional penalty fee. While this may seem excessive, we run a very busy studio and scheduling problems can easily compound themselves, hence our strict line on the matter.

I would like to assist more experienced photographers. Can you set this up?

We don’t get involved directly, but you might have success posting on the SOPHA Community facebook page.

Does the two hour minimum on studio rentals apply to members?

No. Members can rent for a minimum of one hour. Non-members are subject to a two hour minimum on their studio rentals.

Can I rent gear/equipment from SOPHA?

Yes, SOPHA is one of the biggest photographic equipment houses in the area.  We rent Canon and Nikon DSLRs and lenses, we rent studio lighting and modifiers from Paul Buff (Einstein and Alien Bees) and Profoto, and video lighting from Kinoflo.  We also have a long list of other items for rent: LED uplighting for events, video sliders and short jibs, wireless microphones… If you need it, we probably have it.

How do I reserve rental gear?

Call or email.  We don’t reserve online.  While we would love to have a big fancy online system, we solve the equipment rental problems with good old fashioned customer service.  Call us and we will reserve it.

If I reserve gear, can I cancel?

Generally speaking when you reserve gear you are committed to renting it.  If you need to cancel, call the office and we will work something out.

Do you offer insurance on rental gear?

No.  If you damage or lose rental gear, you are responsible to pay us for the repair or replacement.  We do not offer insurance of any type.

My equipment rental is due back today, but I don’t feel like bringing it back.  Can I keep it an extra day?

Maybe.  If the gear isn’t going right back out, we may be able to extend your rental.  Fees apply of course.  Call us obviously.

I need to book studio time for tomorrow morning.  Do I do anything special?

Yes.  Members should use the online booking form, but should then immediately call us to confirm the booking.  We plan staffing the day before, so last minute bookings, while totally cool, require some juggling on our end.  Just call.

My client brought glitter into the studio.  What happens now?

You pay a $250 fine.  Really.  On average, it takes about 5 to 6 staff hours to clean up an average glitter release.  Our anti-glitter campaign is legendary.

My Studio Membership studio hours expire every month?
Yes. If you don’t use your hours, they expire. Gold, Platinum, and Elite Membership levels have Roll Over hours that can help you manage your hour usage even further.

My unused Studio Membership hours expire every month. What is a “month”?
To avoid any confusion, SOPHA uses a calendar month. Your month is NOT based on the date you make your monthly payment.

Are there limitations on the use of my Studio Membership included studio hours?
Yes. Members can only use a maximum of four “included” hours in any one 24 hour period. This includes both “included” and “roll over” hours a member may have accrued. This allows more members to shoot in any one day. If a member wants to shoot for longer than four hours they are certainly welcome to do so – but must pay out-of-pocket for any hours over four hours. So – can you have a six hour shoot? SURE! But you can only use up to four of your “included” or “roll over” hours.

Can I give/sell/trade/swap my hours with another SOPHA Member?
No. Your hours are yours.

What are “Roll Over Hours”?
Studio Members at the Gold, Platinum, or Elite levels have the ability to push unused and unbooked hours that are included in their membership into the next month. There is a limit on the number of hours that can be rolled based upon the membership level. Note that in any month, hours included in the membership are always used first.

Can you give me an example of Roll Over Hours?
Imagine you have four hours of studio time in your membership and you are allowed two Roll Over Hours. That month you only use one hour of studio time for a quick head shot. You have three hours remaining at the end of the month. One hour is lost – expired. Two hours can be rolled forward so that you have six at the start of the next month. Taking this example further – in that next month you now have those six hours and only use two in that month. In that case you will then have two that expire and two that roll forward. Only two hours can roll forward in any one month for that membership level.

Can I pay my membership with a lump-sum payment?
No. Members will need to make monthly payments through our subscription service (PayPal). For those that are adverse to PayPal we have set up a payment system to manually process credit cards on a monthly basis. This service has an additional monthly charge.

Do Members get a discount on tutoring services?
Yes! We have added a 20% membership discount for one-on-one tutoring with SOPHA Staff, making the member rate $45 per hour. We have removed the two hour minimum for all tutoring customers.

Do Members get class discounts ?
Yes!  Members get 20% off SOPHA Classes.

Do Members get discounts on equipment rentals like lenses and studio lights?
Yes! The membership discount of 20% applies! And remember, we have the best selection, the best gear, and the best prices in New Hampshire. Period.