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A Studio Within a Studio

A day in the life inside the Whitebox Studio co-working space.

In a city like Austin, where freelancing is the new 9-to-5, where do you turn when you can no longer stomach officing from a coffee shop? Worldwide, co-working spaces—shared offices for freelancers, creatives, or start-ups—are having a serious moment, and it’s about time. Nestled in the recently-developed Canopy Studio compound on Springdale is Whitebox Studio, a co-working space started by Austin photographer Cody Hamilton and currently home to, as he explains, “seven small businesses running out of one big room.”

“‘Whitebox’ is a term I began to use for anything creative I worked on outside of commercial photography,” Hamilton says, referencing four-walled, often-unfinished, and stark commercial spaces. “The space essentially is a blank slate for the next tenant.” Canopy’s roomy multi-use studios were the perfect platform for Hamilton, who had dreamt of working in a collaborative space since art school. And after getting a couple other photographer friends to sign on, his plans naturally unfolded. Today, the space houses seven creatives, who work independently among each other (with breaks for shared creative input).

To Hamilton, a co-working space is an evolving experience, with each day looking different. “There are days when you are the only one there and you get to play whatever music you want as loud as you like,” he explains. “Photographers trickle in and out; photoshoots begin as others end, all while a meeting is being held at the conference table. There are plenty of welcome distractions and interactions, from helping someone set up a shoot in the studio to giving opinions on retouching.”

Ultimately, Hamilton says, the best part of the shared community is a pooling of resources, the natural camaraderie founded around mutual respect and excitement about work. “We share equipment and help each other whenever and however we can,” he says. “We absolutely work together, but not because we have to.” Learn more at


Objects Found Inside the Studio:

  • One of Andrew Chan’s many unique desk gadgets.
  • One of three splashes of color in the studio.
  • Twelve toys to entertain the three studio dogs.
  • The perfect cup, made from Hamilton’s Simonelli espresso machine.
  • A rolling cart from the Boeing assembly line, and a MacPro with a 27-inch display to tether for shoots.
  • One of eight members’ chair-of-choice: the 40/4 by David Rowland.

Hamilton's Advice for Burgeoning Freelancers

  • Have tenacity! Figure out who you are and what you love, then go for it.
  • Don’t give up; it takes time.
  • Learn from your mistakes and keep moving forward.
  • Take wise council from others you can trust and whose proof is in their past.
  • You don’t have to work alone or by yourself just because you’re a freelancer. There are plenty of co-working spaces popping up all over the country. Or you could even start your own.

The members of Whitebox: Andrew Chan, Daniel Brock, Annie Ray, Scott Van Osdol, Dagny Piasecki, Cody Hamilton, Leah Overstreet


Photography by Cody Hamilton


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