Brook Rieman Photography – Bloomington Indiana Studio Tour

My last post detailed our journey in turning a tiny one-room historic church into the studio of my dreams. Today, I get to show off the final product. I absolutely LOVE shooting in this space. The open 30×40 foot space works perfectly for my needs. I primarily use natural light and 10 huge windows produce more than enough. I actually had to buy black-out roller shades to cut out some of the light for optimal viewing conditions at ordering sessions. We use a projector and a huge screen to show our clients their images larger-than-life. To do this, I want the room to be a little darker than it would be for shooting. I also love having the ability to cut down the light for particularly moody shoots.

Most of the furnishings in the studio are vintage pieces. I enjoy a mix of contemporary and vintage styling and I LOVE the thrill of finding unique vintage treasures, so outfitting the studio gave me a great excuse to shop for those pieces.

Enough talk, it’s time for show and tell.

Brook Rieman Photography Studio transformation

Bloomington Boudoir Photography Studio

Brook Rieman Photography- Bloomington Indiana Senior Photography StudioPhotography studio in Bloomington, Indiana

Shhhhh… don’t tell anyone, but that backdrop holder is actually made from 4 Ikea wine racks.

Bloomington Indiana Photography Studio - Backdrop holder out of wine racks

For the longest time, I could not decide what to do about a changing room. I was reluctant to erect anything that would drastically alter the feel of the space. I ending up figuring out a way to hang a curtain in a semi-circle configuration, making a huge changing area which can be completely opened up so that it doesn’t take up any space at all.

Brook Rieman Photography, Bloomington Indiana - changing roomchanging room - Bloomington portrait photography studio

Brook Rieman Photography, Bloomington IN Photography StudioBloomington Indiana Senior Photographer

So there you have it, you have officially taken the Brook Rieman Photography Studio tour! Thanks for stopping by:)


AliyApril 18, 2014 - 9:43 pm

Couch envy!!!! Looks great Brook! You should be soooo proud :)

Labor of Love – Bloomington Indiana Photography Studio

It has been almost exactly 2 years since we were handed the keys to this very special piece of Indiana history.

I had passed little Mt. Ebal church probably a thousand times, often admiring it’s simple charm. I’d even peeked in the windows once, feeling a little sad at the emptiness of it. The church had not held regular services in at least 40 years. A local man had kept it up for the last 20 years or so, renting it out for the occasional small event. Then one day I drove by and saw a “For Sale” sign. It was then that I began to dream. I began to see those huge windows and vast hardwood floors as the perfect backdrop to the studio of my dreams. My husband Corey and I talked for hours, days and weeks about it. Did we have the time, energy and money to put into this? The poor 140 year old building was showing it’s age and there was much to be done before it could be used as a photography studio. My mother had passed away right before the church came up for sale. I kept thinking “What would Mom say?”. Then I realized, she would say “It’s your dream, right? So do it!”. And so we did.

Little did we know that acquiring the church and repairing it would not be the most difficult obstacles we would face. To operate a business on the site required petitioning the county zoning board, countless meetings, hearings, money and paperwork. The county also required us to complete extensive landscape plantings which were not in the original plan. About a year after we started the process, we won the right to start doing business and breathing new life into this amazing historic building.

One of the first things we had to do was have part of the flooring repaired.

photo 3_WEB

Next, we had to remove the modern patio out front. It had been installed by the previous owners without permission from the historical group who holds an easement on the property. Since the patio was modern in style and wouldn’t have historically been there, it had to go.

Brook Rieman Photography renovations

Our daughter LOVED the power tools.

Patio removal

Patio removal

The patio had actually been causing water damage to the front of the building, so we had to hire someone to fix that.

Repairing the front

Back in the 1870s, people weren’t so worried about energy efficiency. We decided to have insulation blown into the walls. This left over 200 holes which needed to be patched. In this picture, you can also see the peeling paint which required LOTS and LOTS of scraping and sanding. Worse than the walls was the ceiling. Standing high on a ladder and trying to scrape the ceiling was quite frightening to say the least.

Blowing in insulation


Shortly after acquiring the building, we realized that the windows were leaking. Each individual pane had to be removed, scraped, and re-glazed. One day while I was out there scraping, the old woman from down the road stopped her car. She is in her 80s, I believe. She walked over and said “girl, I’ve always been proud to say I’m the hardest working woman on Mt. Ebal road, but I’ve got to say, I think you deserve that title.”. That completely made my day.

There were many days when I would be out there working and I would get honks, thumbs up and happy smiles from passers-by. Quite a few stopped to say how happy they were that we were doing something with the place.


Next up was painting. My daughter was a big help in this department. And no, she never ever wears shoes.


Immediately following the painting came the floor refinishing. Anyone who’s done this knows what a joy it is……not.


FloorsNext up was removal of a fence – another thing that had been installed without permission from the historical group.


Those posts were set in concrete. I even broke a shovel!


…and the landscaping.


Ever the DIY-er, I painted my own sign. My logo is my signature after all, so it seemed fitting to paint it with my own hand.


Tada!! I cannot thank my husband Corey and my dad, Jerry, enough. Without their help, this dream would not have ever come to fruition.

Bloomington Photography

Up next, pictures of the finished inside!




Hannah WebsterApril 16, 2014 - 9:39 am

Looks so fantastic, Brook! x

JanetApril 16, 2014 - 10:44 am

Wow! I haven’t been there since the fence & sign work. Looks lovely!

Joni vasquezApril 16, 2014 - 12:09 pm

Wow, an amazing transformation. You did a beautiful job….love your sign outside. I will have to come back and see this one day, Joni

Allison MayerApril 16, 2014 - 2:04 pm

Brook, your studio is so cool! Even more proud of you that you guys put it back the way it should look. (Historical societies exist for a reason after all. I’m a fan :) )

I know you’re going to love working here for many many many years to come

LaurelApril 18, 2014 - 12:46 am

Amazing! I didn’t know you even painted the writing on the sign yourself. It is so beautifully done. The whole undertaking was so much work, but so nice now. You all did such a wonderful job with it. Hope I can see the final work of it someday soon. It wasn’t finished when I was there a couple years ago. It looks so great!

Collaboration Feeds My Soul

I am an extrovert. The Myers-Briggs test explains that an extrovert is a person who gains energy from being involved with others and collaborating. This couldn’t be more true for me.

In college, while others were rolling their eyes, I was truly happy to hear the words “group project”.  I love working with others, throwing out ideas and coming up with something fantastic. I feel like the end result is so much sweeter when we share the experience of making of something great.

I think this explains why I love portrait photography so much. I have zero interest in photographing flowers or mountains. Inanimate objects are not exactly my cup of tea. I want subjects who can interact, inspire and energize me. Each person that steps in front of my lens has their own unique energy and personality which feeds my creative spirit. The way I shoot someone is a direct result of an interaction between the two of us. A portrait is something we are creating together. Often my clients are shy about sharing ideas they have for their shoot. Please don’t be. I love when someone has an idea they would like to incorporate into their images. It just makes it that much more fun to shoot and the resulting images that much more meaningful to you. Things like a location that holds significant meaning to you, a feeling you would like to convey, or an interest you have will help get my gears turning and my creative juices flowing. I love it!

In honor of “Collaboration” I thought I would share some very early, goofy images I shot with one of my favorite collaborators. My friend Laura and I have been friends for 17 years. We met when we worked together as counselors at Camp Gallahue Girl Scout Camp in Nashville. Laura isn’t a photographer, but when my interest in photography started to develop, she was always game to participate in my crazy endeavors and share her ideas for funny shoots we could do together. She lives in Pennsylvania, so we don’t get to see each other as often as we would like, but we never let that stop us from having fun. We can always be united, if only through photoshop…


This image is from 2008. Laura was returning home to PA after a visit in Indiana. I was sad to see her go so I asked her to take a picture of herself on the plane ride home and she came up with the image inside the airplane. At home, I laid across a cooler in my backyard and took a picture of myself flying “superhero style”. Together, we came up with this:



This image was made also made in 2008. The left half of the image was taken by Laura in her home in Pennsylvania, the right side was taken by me at home in Indiana:


And then there was that one fateful evening I was visiting her 6 years ago, and she and I decided to channel our all-time favorite TV duo, Laverne and Shirley.  We watched and re-watched the opening sequence of the show and came up with these.



I have come a long way from these early images, but as you can plainly see, I’ve always LOVED collaboration!








LauraMarch 4, 2014 - 7:22 pm

Truly fun collaborating!!! I think this should inspire something new?!

F a c e b o o k