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We did it! Phew!! What a start of this year. We are settling into the new photography studio as so many changes have taken place. We are ready to move on from renovations and back to living and working the dream job. It has been a journey and we would love to share it with you all right now…so many have asked “what happened”, “why did you leave Rose Street…it was perfect for you”. Well, God was and is in complete control and we would love to show and share the journey.

In January, I went to the national photography convention called Imaging USA and had a fabulous time and came back with lots of great ideas and renewed motivation for my business. My first day back at the studio, a representative of the owners of my building came to me and stated that Rose Street Market is going to undergo major renovations and changes and all tenants will have to move out. There was no set date, they just stated “sooner than later”. Needless to say, I was taken back, but not horribly shocked because I knew the building was sold and under new ownership for several months. However, as reality set in, it really hit hard….I have to leave my beloved studio that I have worked so hard at making my own. We knew we needed to move out ASAP because I have a very busy start to wedding season and there is no way I wanted to move and renovate a new studio space during wedding season! So I was on the search immediately. I toured so many buildings in downtown Kalamazoo and put my feelers out to all my contacts. It was clear that in the seven years I was at Rose Street that I had a steal of a deal, and I was not going to get what I had there, for the price point I had, and the quality I had if I stayed in downtown Kalamazoo. In all honestly, that didn’t break my heart to much and I was ok to look around Kalamzoo, Plainwell and in between. My fear during this time was that I was being forced to move and I didn’t want to be downgrade because I ran out of time. Running a photography studio for seven years gave me the experience to know what I needed, what I could compromise on, and what I would like to have in a new studio space. So I kept praying and looking…..

The end of January, I stumbled (I know I didn’t stumble, God led me there) to a listing on Craig’s List and thought “heh that building doesn’t look bad at all in the photo”. There were no inside photos though on the listing. It just so happened that my husband, Jayme, was in that area when I saw the listing and called him and asked if he could check it out. He knows exactly what I want and need and when he called me back and said “this could work Melissa….you should look at it”, well I was on it! I texted the contact and asked to tour it the next morning. When we toured it, I knew. This was it. God brought me to the right place. ┬áThe place was really dirty and full of junk…but I could totally see it “finished”! I felt like Joanna Gaines on “Fixer Upper”!! HA! Not really, but I seriously could see past all the mess and knew THIS IS GOING TO BE AMAZING. It had great bones…we just needed to paint and put down some new floors….easy right?!? NOT AT ALL.

We started the process by cleaning and then painting. I realized after that first weekend of HARD LONG WORK….”I may have underestimated the scope of work to be done”. Everywhere I turned, I saw something else that needed to be changed, replaced or painted! One of the big projects….well not for me….but for my amazing brother in law was the barn wall with sliding doors he made me to separate my office/prop room from the shooting space. I asked him for a room divider and he came up with this amazing barn wall idea, and it was so much more than I expected…I JUST LOVE IT!!! The man has a talent with wood and tools. He designed that whole wall, made that wall and the sliding doors and then installed the whole thing by himself. He also was a huge help when we needed advice on what materials to buy and how to install things or fix other things. I just can not say enough of how grateful I am for his help all those weekends. THANK YOU BRAD!!! A big shout out of gratitude to my dad, my father in law, and my sister for coming and working so hard to help us get it done. We had such a strict deadline and we worked right up until the end so hard. I look back even now and think “how did we do that”?……the answer? The grace of God….He gave us the strength, the motivation, and the friends and family to help us do it.

Before we start looking at the images, I need to say a loving THANK YOU to my husband, Jayme. He had do bear the heavy burden of the renovation for me because honestly, I was pretty stressed with other major changes happening at the business and still running a business…and some obstacles I had to get through during that time and Jayme stepped it up and worked so hard with no complaining (well you know with in reason). I knew all along he was on my side and he was as determined to get this done for us as I was. I am so grateful for a husband who has always ALWAYS been so supportive of my business these last nine years….he is so willing to take care of our girls when I am shooting all over the state all hours of the day. He may not be a part of Gregersen Photography that people do not see…but I honestly he works just as hard as I do, and he has made OUR business as successful as it has been through the years. So thank you Jayme. I love you.

So now let’s look through the photos shall we???

 

Here is some outside shots I have taken of it.

Love our new signs!

Love my neighbor…Biggby Coffee!!

And I have a side yard that I can hardly wait to use for shooting this Summer!!

outdoorstudiopics

 

This is the front entry/greeting room and our photography gallery. It was painted green and had the black and white checkered tiles. We painted everything gray and white, put down carpet (thanks Brad) and replaced the baseboards. Sounds quick and easy, but so far from it…and this is just the first room!

Front Greeting Room1

 

 

I love this Entry Room….I walk into my new studio and smile now when I see it. It is a great space to greet our clients and show off our photography.

Front Room2

 

I was so excited to have my own bathroom, and this bathroom is a great size….however it needed SO MUCH WORK. The floors, (there was a huge hole in the floor), the toilet and I battled for about two weeks, it had major rust stains that I just could not get out. My favorite part is the new vanity that Brad made for me out of one of my old dressers I had at my previous studio location.

Bathroom1Bathroom2

 

SO much painting we did!! We painted all the doors and doorways and wall over and over and over again to make them clean and fresh again!

Hallway1

 

This room is our now “view and order” room. It was essential as I was looking for a studio that I have THIS room. We spend a lot of time sitting and designing wall portraits with our clients. This room has many purposes…but the main one is for our clients to come in to look through their photographs I took and then create heirlooms they will cherish for a lifetime.

ViewOrderRoom1

 

I put a lot of thought into this room to make sure its not only pretty but functional. We still have some tweaks to do with it and install some more samples…but I love it!

ViewOrderRoom2

 

This room my girls are sitting in is my office/prop room.

OfficePropRoom1

 

My biggest challenge as I was designing this studio was prop storage. My previous studio has a large storage room that over seven year..I filled up! So I sold many props and backdrops (that is hard to do folks)…and then used the upper loft crawl space in my new studio space for season props or those I just do not use enough to keep in the office area. We recently put a small storage shed outside the studio to store more outdoor props so that has helps quite a bit, but lets be honest….I have a lot of props, and I will never admit I have to many or enough…any photographer will say they never have enough!! We are making it work and I am sure this is something I will be tweaking and changing as I settle in through the next few months….but I am happy with the space I have and how we have found ways to make it work.

OfficePropRoom2

 

Now on to my favorite part of the building….the shooting space. This is where knowing what I needed and what I could work with came into the decision of really liking this place. I love windows and natural light, but I found that when I am shooting indoors, I love shooting with my studio lights…..so I do not need to rely on natural light/window light. This shooting space is more that twice as big as my old shooting space and I just love the new space and opportunities I have to shoot in such a variety here.

ShootingSpace1

 

I LOVE shooting against wood…and at my previous space I had a lovely dark wood backdrop set that was 5×5 feet. When I saw the potential of my new studio space, I was so excited when I determined I could install a dark wood backdrop twice that size! This is 10 feet wide and 8 feet high and photographs like a dream!! I LOVE it, and having so much fun with it.

The floors were such a big decision for me to make to…. “pull the trigger” and buy them …..and make sure I get the right color tone. I am so happy with our floors. They are a white washed aspen wood color and go so well with the studio and the look I was envisioning.

And then my white washed barn wall with sliding doors!! So in love with it…not only is it a very functional room divider that we needed, but its the perfect backdrop for families and larger family groupings that I photograph. My previous studio was the perfect size for babies, children and small families….but now….I can accommodate larger families with no issues at all.

Yes, that is a garage door…and it works!! We plan to utilize that this Summer to0….. for just the fresh air and for some natural light when I need it for certain shooting scenarios!

So many options!!!

ShootingRoom3

 

I want to end this blog post with some more before and after images…and “work in progress” images. What a journey it has been. I give God all the glory as He continued to show me this was His plan even through the hard long working days….He blessed it all and we know it is all His.

I am so looking forward to settling in and photographing my wonderful clients this year in my new studio home….its so fun to have a new building and outdoors space to explore and see where my creativity will take me. Please come visit us at the studio….or consider having us be your photographer. We would be so honored.

ShootingSpace2InProgress

 

The studio is located at 5100 E. Michigan Ave. Kalamazoo, MI 49048