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What began as a community of photographers helping each other on larger shoots has led to Click Studio, a 4,000-square-foot space in downtown Monticello that houses three separate photography companies.
“It really started when we formed the Piatt County Camera Club,” said Mike Heiniger of Mike Heiniger Photography. That group started meeting six years ago to share stories and photography tips, and it eventually led to collaborations between its members.
“I started to depend on Mike a ton for weddings,” said Tara Young, who formed Twin Lenses Photography about seven years ago. “He shoots exactly how I like, he knows what I want, and respects my business part of it without stepping on my toes.”
“And without trying to hustle business from you,” chuckled Heiniger.
And that’s the key to Click Studio, which also includes Seven Nails Photography – walking that fine line that separates successful collaboration with running separate businesses.
Heiniger says it’s actually pretty easy because “we just love shooting.”
A two-year search for studio space – each business formerly operated out of their homes – ended last November when they settled on the area above CF&H Insurance Agency at 113 ½ S. State St.
Then the hard work began. Formerly part of Monticello’s city hall (there is even a safe up there), Judd Hayes of Seven Nails Photography said the hardest part of renovating the long-empty space was “getting over the intimidation factor. Of tearing out walls and making changes to see the bigger picture.”
Eight walls were torn out, dropped ceilings removed to let more natural light in, and less than four months later the group was hosting 200 people at its open house on March 25.
“It’s pretty darned cool,” added Heather Hayes, also of Seven Nails Photography. “For me it opens up the door a little more to provide something that is not in the home. In a studio setting you can shoot rain or shine. It just opens up your doors wider.”
Click Studio includes several spaces to shoot photos, from a large studio to a pair of smaller ones for lifestyle and newborn photos. There is also a large office space – shared of course – a waiting area, room to meet clients and a break room.
Having a place to call their own also allows for more creative sets and an added bonus of being able to display more of their work.
All three companies can handle the traditional high school senior and family photography, but each adds specialization. Seven Nails has carved out a niche with infant photos, while Twin Lenses offers lifestyle photography and Heiniger Photography sports and commercial work.
It’s been a very good-natured partnership, although Young admits to getting territorial in one area as the renovation work began.
“Tara called the lifestyle room quickly. She called dibbs,” said Heiniger of the room that allows natural light to enter from both the west and the south.
“Best. Light. Ever,” admitted Young.
There is no central phone number at this point for Click Photography, so appointments can be made by calling each business directly at: Twin Lenses Photography, 217-971-5568; Mike Heiniger Photography, 217-621-0251; and Seven Nails Photography, 217-840-3895.