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New photo studio opens in downtown Hastings

Growing up on a farm, there wasn't much in the way of easy entertainment for Rachel Marthaler. If she wanted something to do, she had to get creative. She found her particular means of creativity through a camera lens.

"I've always had a very strong interest in photography," Marthaler said.

In college she studied communications, but she took a few photography classes as well. Friends and family started asking her to do photo shoots with them, and as she did more and more, she started to realize that she could make photography her career.

In 2008, while working for a marketing firm in Minneapolis, Marthaler started her business part time. On Nov. 18, she opened the doors to her new storefront in downtown Hastings.

She continues her education, attending professional photography association events and workshops across the state and country.

"I'm constantly trying to learn and grow from people more experienced than myself," she said.

The building

Marthaler and her husband Jake bought the building, 111 E. Second St., in March. It looked much different then, with plaster covering every wall and a suspended ceiling hiding the original pressed tin - which was caked in two different colors of paint. They had no idea what the structure had in store for them.

"Our goal was to create something with as much character as we could," Marthaler said.

They knew the original ceiling was still there, but they didn't know what condition it was in, and had no clue what the plaster on the walls was covering. Marthaler said she was hoping for at least one brick wall. They were shocked to find that one wall is brick - three bricks thick - and the other is limestone.

Over eight months the couple gutted the building, exposed the walls and sandblasted them and stripped the paint from the ceiling. They redid the front of the building with new paint, new windows and a new limestone base. They built new spaces inside - an office, viewing room, kitchenette, bathrooms, a child care room and portrait studio - repainted the ceiling (it took four coats to get it just right) and brought in new furnishings. Except for a few things they had to contract out, they did all the work themselves on evenings and weekends with some help from friends and family.

Their work has attracted a good amount of attention.

"A lot of people come in just to see what we've done with it," Marthaler said. "Which is kind of neat."

Doing business

Rachel Marthaler Photography does photo sessions for newborns, children, family, high school seniors and weddings. She also does a little commercial photography on the side. She described her personal style as lifestyle photography, capturing not only the people but how they interact with each other.

"I try to bring out their personalities in their photos as much as possible," she said.

To do so, she takes a relaxed approach to a photo shoot, taking her time to get to know her clients. One of her goals is to make a photo shoot an experience for her clients.

"I want them to enjoy the experience from beginning to end," she said.

Photo sessions run about an hour, Marthaler said, although she won't rush anyone. After the photos ready, she calls the clients back in for a viewing session where they sit down in on couches to view their photos on a 56-inch television screen and put together their order.

Along with her photography services, Marthaler sells other items such as wall art, custom designed photo albums and sterling silver jewelry.

Hours are by appointment only. The phone number i 651-346-1141. The website is www.