VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - As a photographer, Will Hawkins lives his life focused, which is why he's taking his skills to the next level.
On May 22 at 9 a.m., he's opening a new studio in Virginia Beach and wants the space to be one that gives back.
"It's just about raising the standard of the creative industry and bringing creatives together so that no one is out here swimming alone in the water," said Hawkins, owner of Will Hawkins Photography and True Collective Studio.
As of Wednesday morning, the unit was still under construction, but it's expected to be turned into a multi-room collaborative studio where photographers and videographers can gather to learn, create and share ideas.
"We're going to focus on commercial photography, commercial videography, wedding photography, boudoir hotography, real estate photography [and more]," said Hawkins. "All of those type of businesses need content, and you need to be able to bring a professional high-quality level to their business so they can bring in the clientele that they want to bring in."
People can rent the space weekly for $40/hour with a two-hour minimum. On weekends, they can rent the space for $45/hour with a two-hour minimum.
While True Collective will be a business, Hawkins said he's most excited for the educational aspect. He, along with other local photographers and videographers, will hold free classes. Due to COVID-19, for the first few months the classes will also be streamed online.
Participating artists can speak from personal experiences and share the knowledge they have gained over the years navigating through the industry.
Hawkins said, "You can have all the talent in the world, but if you don't know how to set up lighting, [or] you don't know how to talk to people, [or] you don't know how to go and get clients, then you're a starving artist. We want to prevent that."
As incentive to swing by the studio during its first few weeks open, Hawkins is hosting a little friendly competition.
"You can come in here for free and use anything around to create whatever image you want to create, and we're going to put those photos online for the community to be able to vote on who took the best photo," he said.
He said the winner will receive $500 and an opportunity to share what they know with others.
"I'm passionate about [True Collective] because I didn't have these things here locally when I first started out 10 years ago," he said. "I want to be to someone what I didn't have."