Self-Service Photoshoot Sessions in Empire City


I don’t go to shootings often, but I’m afraid whenever I have to, how time-consuming and formal the photography process can be. It’s pretty exhausting. To overcome this, the concept of self-control photography was born.

“Self-control photography is currently large and popular in Korea. I’ve been seeing my friends in Korea lying on their own for a while now, “said Hyun Chae, the company’s founder. Self Ctrl Studio.

Hyun Chae is a Korean immigrant who has been living in Malaysia with her family for about 13 years. Since they don’t visit Korea often, Hyun Chae thought to bring this popular photographic trend here for both she and Malaysians to enjoy.

Therefore, in November 2020, she launched Studio Self Ctrl in a residential duplex in Empire City near where she lives.

For awkward and shy people

“I’m pretty sure most people are very shy and awkward when there’s a photographer nearby,” Hyun Chae shared.

“Allowing people to take control of their own shots makes the photos better in some way, because no one needs to feel shy or clumsy. They can simply be themselves and more natural. “

Setting up recordings and props for her customers / Image courtesy: Self Ctrl Studio

Customers who choose her service are usually those who prefer casual and honest photos, whether it is a family, a group of friends or a couple of photos.

From now on, Hyun Chae only book when customers want to have a photo session. Each session costs RM100 for 20 minutes, with an additional RM20 for an additional 10 minutes.

The RM100 only covers 2 people, but you can have up to 6 people on set, although each additional number of employees will cost an additional RM20 (including children and pets, except for any promotions). For example, if three people wanted to enter the recording, it would be the RM120 in 20 minutes.

Photo sessions for pets and children / Image credit: Self Ctrl Studio

You can also choose to have Hyun Chae take photos for you, which will be an extra RM50.

These costs are well below market price standard photo sessions in Malaysia. What it takes into account in costs are rent, duplex overheads and printing.

“Sometimes I ask customers about whether I’m doing a family or baby shoot and I’ll charge them at this cheap price, because I have no experience in photography,” she explained.

Take as many photos as you want, plus free coffee

Before you start taking photos, Hyun Chae will first explain to you how to use the camera set, props and remote control. As for the way she poses, she still won’t direct her customers.

Instructions given before shooting / Image screen: Self Ctrl Studio

“I’m not a great poser myself. I feel like I’m the most awkward person in front of the camera, but I print photos of customers in the past that they could refer to. “

Default shooting location (left) and inspirational posing wall (right) / Image screen: Self Ctrl Studio

“Some of my clients can take up to 200 photos, while some only take about 50 per session,” she shared.

Afterwards she will go upstairs and leave you the privacy to paint. He will be back after 10 minutes to help turn your photos into a portrait or landscape if you wish.

“There is also a kitchen and a dining table, because it is a residential studio. So when customers finish filming, I’ll make them coffee. “

Hyun Chae shares all the original soft copies of photos her customers have taken with them, plus two 4 × 6 prints in paper form of their choice on the spot in the frame. In addition, it offers its customers a time-lapse video of the entire recording.

“I know that many studios charge extra when customers want all the original files. Since I’m not a professional, I don’t want to do that, because they are the ones who took the time to take all their photos, and whether they like it or not, it’s up to them to decide, “she explained.

Getting more Koreans than Malaysians for her shooting

While the whole point of Hyun Chae that this concept of photography brings here is that Malaysians enjoy it, in reality it actually has more Korean customers than locals.

“65% of my customers are Koreans. I don’t mind that more Koreans will come to the shoot, but I would love for the locals to enjoy this concept as well. “

On average, Self Ctrl Studio gets about 10 to 15 sessions a month, with a good combination of customers who want family shots, pet shots or even a couple shots.

Currently, her main challenge in business is visibility. Since her studio is not located in stores, but in a residential area, Self Ctrl Studio can hardly be exposed to people around or take a walk.

However, it’s not a bad situation because Hyun Chae has a full-time job and intends to run this business only as a hobby.

During the MCO she had to close her studio a bit, but she opened it when the CMCO started.

Since it’s about self-control, can’t I create this at home?

“If someone thinks that their phone and houses can do something similar to what my studio can provide, then I don’t think these people will come to my studio,” she explained.

Although our phones today can take high quality photos, most people do not have high quality wallpaper or lighting in their homes.

You can adjust to darker lighting or opt for black and white photos / Image screen: Self Ctrl Studio

“Basically, maybe people just have a rag or a really cheap wallpaper, so I’d say it’s really different from the actual studio,” Hyun Chae added.

Since this was something she started from out of passion, she won’t be thinking about her goals in this studio for a long time.

Meanwhile, Hyun Chae is simply hoping to be able to attract more Malaysians to customers and introduce different types of photo prints like Polaroids into Self Ctrl Studio.

  • You can learn more about Self Ctrl Studio here.
  • You can read about other startups we’ve covered here.

Credits for featured images: Hyun Chae, founder of Self Ctrl Studio

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