... and then we bought a church.
THE PHOTOGRAPHY STUDIO RENOVATION OF MY DREAMS
It never failed that whenever I would drive around in my small town that I would be on a constant look out for potential studio spaces. I would see a piece of property for sale or a run-down building in town and could think of an entire studio layout in seconds - where a business sign would go, where clients would park, and what kind of photos I would be able to take outside. I couldn't even begin to tell you all of the notebooks I had scribbled lists in or the number of Pinterest pins I had saved with titles involving the words "future studio". Such a desire for a photography studio was fueled by years of education, devotion, and patience. That's right, years. (nearly nine to be exact)
In June of 2021, my patience paid off.
I was scrolling through Facebook when a local real estate company had posted a small, run-down, out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere, farm church for sale. All of the countless properties and buildings I had once dreamed up a plan for fell out of my memory and the light bulb came on. I immediately contacted my husband, parents, and little sister and set up a viewing.
Within the next week we took our first steps into the church. As soon as the door swung open I was even more convinced that this was the renovation project I had always dreamed about. My husband and I got the keys on July 8 and were there that evening doing yard work.
The next six months consisted of long work days and what ended up being many trips to the local Lowes. We painted, landscaped, deconstructed, gutted, installed, and cleaned day after day. I am lucky enough to say that between the help and knowledge of my family, friends, and my in-laws, we were able to complete most of the work without any hired hands. (we just kept beer in the fridge)
My goal was not to change the layout of the church completely. I wanted my clients to know where my studio came from. A huge part in the decision on purchasing the church was how great of shape it was in for being nearly 90 years old. No major construction was needed to insure the safety of my clients. Most of the interior was simply refreshed with new paint, stain, and a little elbow grease - that in itself made such a huge difference.
Many parts of the church were embraced and reincorporated back into the decor and construction. The path between the pews that lead to the stage, where countless individuals had walked all of those years, is still clearly visible after the floor was sanded down and stained. All pews, except for one, were broken down into boards that were used as a backdrop on the stage and a recreation of my logo that hangs above the front door. (a huge thank you to the Young family for all of their hard work) A framed certificate (with a date of 1940 that was dedicated to the church) and a "before" photo of the church the first day of renovation hangs in the entryway. Another backdrop is created from scrap boards and miscellaneous pieces from the renovation along with pieces from my family history and all of those who had a helping hand with the church. It's such a joy to admire this wall, point to a board, and be able to recognize where the board came from. I LIVE for the history of it all.
The grand opening for the studio was on January 29, 2022. Clients, friends, family members, and church members from back in the day stopped by to celebrate the renovation.
I would not have been able to pour my heart into the renovation without the help of my husband, parents, friends, and in-laws. We all, still to this day, catch ourselves referring to the studio as "the church". Heck, many of my clients even call it that. Regardless of its title, I am still utterly in awe each and every time I step inside for a session. It truly is exactly what I wanted.