Raymond Ramos has been a professional photographer in San Antonio for 20 years. In the past, if he needed to book studio space for a shoot, he either had to ask around for recommendations or Google “photo studio.”

But when he recently needed a place to photograph a model, he went to Peerspace.com, where he found just what he needed.

“I needed large, west-facing windows to take advantage of that great sunset lighting,” Ramos said.

Peerspace is a peer-to-peer marketplace that, like Airbnb, Turo and Swimply, allows those with an unused commodity — a spare bedroom, an extra car, a rarely used swimming pool — to make money by renting it out. In the case of Peerspace, that commodity can be a studio, loft, rooftop patio, outdoor garden — just about any attractive location. The site’s target market ranges from photo shoots, meetings and presentations to yoga classes, birthday parties, quinceañeras and even weddings. Spaces can be rented for virtually any purpose as long as it’s legal.

Ramos said he found just what he was looking for in Shannon Gowen’s Southtown studio, the Photo Center. The 1,000-square-foot, loft-like space has both painted and dramatic red brick walls, comes equipped with photo equipment such as C-stands and boom arms, and has movable work tables. Plus there are nine large windows, all facing west.

“It had everything I needed, and Shannon was really helpful,” he said.

Ramos originally planned to start shooting at 6 p.m., for example, but Gowen suggested he wait until 7, when the sunset light prized by photographers would be even better.

The Peerspace website lists more than 35,000 short-term rentals in the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia. In San Antonio, where Peerspace has been live since 2019, there are 55 listings for photo and video shoots, with prices ranging from $50 to $250 per hour, and 27 party spaces for $50 to $650 per hour. Many have minimums of two or more hours.

“We’ve had clients from YouTube influencers to major motion picture studios rent our spaces,” said Matt Bendett, co-founder and senior vice president of global operations for the company.

He said brands such as Apple, Google and Facebook all have rented through the site, and in June actor Jeff Goldblum was photographed for GQ magazine at a Peerspace member studio in North Hollywood.

The San Francisco-based company was founded in 2014. While the pandemic slowed growth for a while, it’s been coming back strongly, Bendett said. The number of residential spaces for rent is up by 300 percent compared to last year, for example.

“As people are looking for additional income, that’s driven a lot of our increase in supply,” he said. “Hosts also like the idea that they don’t have to do laundry, let someone else drive their car or deal with strangers splashing around in their backyard pool.”

Kat Steffans is a single mom and owner of Trifecta Acting and Performance Training on the near East Side. She recently signed on with Peerspace and rents her studio space for $50 per hour.

“I’m not using the studio all the time, so it makes sense to make some money during what would otherwise be down time,” Steffans said. “It’s a very versatile space. It can be used for anything from video shoots to yoga classes to business meetings.”

The open, naturally lit space is about 800 square feet in size, has wood floors and is outfitted with a backdrop and stacking chairs. There’s even free onsite parking.

Peerspace works with hosts to boost a space’s potential.

“When I first posted on Peerspace, they helped get my online photos up and helped me maximize the verbiage I used,” said Kerry Valderrama, CEO of the video production space Alamo City Studios on the near East Side. After working with a Peerspace representative, for example, the online description now highlights the studio’s 1,000-square-foot cyclorama, a curved background that suggests unlimited space and likely serves as catnip for photographers and videographers.

“Within a week of posting on the site, I started getting bookings for music videos, dance troupes and other groups that wouldn’t have found us otherwise,” Valderrama said.

Peerspace makes money by taking 15 percent of the booking fee paid by clients.

Isaac Jones, a marketing company executive based in Nashville, said he often books studios through Peerspace when he travels so he can build his freelance photography portfolio. He was in San Antonio in June and rented a studio to photograph a local model.

“It adds professionalism to do it in an indoor studio like the one I booked,” Jones said. “If it wasn’t for Peerspace, I’d either have had to photograph her outside in the heat or I just wouldn’t have been able to do it.”

Not every booking goes according to plan, however. Gowen, at the Photo Center, said she once got a booking on Giggster, a site similar to Peerspace, from a woman in New York who wanted to throw a birthday party in her space.

“But it wasn’t a very nice birthday party,” she said. “Apparently there was some overdrinking involved, and when we came in the next day there was food splattered on the walls and trash left out.”

She said that when it comes to her studio, it’s still open for photo shoots and the like, but the party’s over, even on Peerspace.

[email protected] | Twitter: @RichardMarini

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