PhotoHub seeks to ‘democratize access’ to pricey studio rentals and equipment at Industry City

industry city photohub
The new PhotoHub at Industry City offers affordable studio and equipment rentals for freelance photographers.
Photo courtesy of Industry City

For more than a year, the Freelancers Hub in Industry City has given New York City’s many freelance workers a place to work, network, and access resources – and on Dec. 20, it debuted the PhotoHub, a new space for photographers.

Breaking into the photo industry, especially as a freelancer, without the backing of a news outlet or another professional organization can be particularly difficult. Cameras and photo equipment are expensive, as are studio rentals. The PhotoHub, a collaboration between the Freelancers Union, the American Society of Media Photographers, and MPB, seeks to “democratize” access to that equipment and give photographers a leg up.  

At the PhotoHub, members of the Freelancers Union and ASMP New York can rent studio space and a host of photo equipment, like backdrops, lights, and tripods.

“We’re thrilled to have partnered with ASMP and MPB to provide our members with a gateway to refine their photography skills and unleash their creative potential,” said Rafael Espinal, executive director of the Freelancers Union, in a statement. “The PhotoHub represents an inclusive space where photographers of all levels can access top-notch equipment and professional studio facilities to bring their visions to life.”

The PhotoHub will allow photographers to shoot headshots, product and fashion photos, and more. Studio rentals begin at $60 per hour, though ASMP NY members can rent space for free by requesting a booking code via email. 

“ASMP’s Mission is to empower visual content creators,” said ASMP NY chapter president Liam Alexander. “Photography is a competitive and expensive industry and creatives entering the space face many hurdles including money and access. With access to this studio and gear we hope that members will have one less roadblock to bringing their creative vision to life.”

The Hub bills itself as a “beacon of affordability and convenience” in an industry where even a basic camera can cost more than $600. Tammy Oler, vice president of marketing at MPB — a massive platform for buying and trading used cameras and gear, which is headquartered at Industry City — said collaborations like the PhotoHub are “vital to recognizing and removing barriers to inclusive storytelling.”

“We can’t wait to see the work photographers are going to create using PhotoHub,” Oler said.

The Freelancers Hub opened at Industry City last year as a co-working space for the city’s more than 1.3 million freelance workers. Though they are vital to news outlets, media companies, and more, freelancers don’t usually have access to their client’s offices or technology, since they’re independent contractors. Working independently offers freelancers financial freedom and the ability to choose their own projects and working hours – but it can also be expensive and isolating.

freelancers hub
The existing Freelancers Hub offers workshops and other resources, in addition to co-working space. File photo courtesy of Duane Anthony

A free membership at the Freelancers Hub offers access to the co-working space and all of the Hub’s workshops and amenities for 10 days per month, while a $30 monthly membership offers unlimited monthly access. In addition to desk space and computer monitors, the Hub also offers networking events, workshops on mental health, branding, and more, and mentorship. 

“Tenant collaborations like this are core to the Industry City story,” said Jeff Fein, Senior Vice President of Leasing at Industry City. “When two IC business owners meet over coffee or at a mixer on campus, it tends to spark something great, and you end up with an idea like the PhotoHub. This project will open doors for newcomers to their industry, create value for their members, and hopefully grow the creative community here at IC.”