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High-End Photo Demand Impetus for Studio Merger
Los Angeles Times



Although Factor had thought about trying to buy Quixote or another studio to expand, he said his friendship with Elliott made a merger more appealing than an acquisition.

"We're both interested in staying in the business," Factor said. "We don't want to sell and Mikel doesn't want to, so the merger really made sense."

The new venture will be 60% owned by Smashbox and 40% by Quixote.

The companies will continue to pursue their nonphotography businesses separately. Quixote will still produce videos, a service that accounts for 75% of its business. Dean Factor, current president of Smashbox, can expand the company's cosmetics brand thanks to the merger, and Davis Factor will continue his fashion photography.

Smashbox opened in 1990 when Davis Factor, then a student at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, thought L.A. lacked upscale studio spaces. It was one of the first studios in the area to model itself on New York spaces that cater to high-profile photographers. Elliott started Quixote in 1995 with Jordan Kitaen, a college pal from UCLA.

"Los Angeles is changing with new studios opening up, but Smashbox really paved the way," Davis Factor said. Factor said the brothers wanted to create a "groovy but simple canvas for photographers to be able to create their work." The studio rents equipment and provides in-house catering, entertainment and communication facilities for clients.

Similar amenities are offered at only a handful of studios around Los Angeles. They appeal especially to celebrities, who usually prefer spaces with accommodations such as private bathrooms and that provide seclusion during a photo shoot, said Jill Greenberg, a portrait and fine-arts photographer who frequently shoots at Quixote.

"There are a handful of studios that stand above the rest due to the extent and nature of the services they provide," said Danelle Rondberg, studio manager for fashion photographer Dominick Guillemot. "Smashbox and Quixote are two of these studios."

The Factors and Elliott hope the positive buzz will help the new company distinguish itself in an increasingly crowded market in Los Angeles, and perhaps even take the business further afield.

"What this offers us," Elliott said, "is an ability to go into other markets and leverage the Smashbox name."

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