Clark Marten Photography has a sterling reputation far and wide. It’s a reputation built on an uncommon combination of qualities – professionalism, creating value for clients, natural talent and humility – all fostered and perfected by owners Clark, Rachel and Rudi Marten.
The family built a photography business from scratch that now reigns as one of the top photography studios in the U.S. The secret to Clark Marten Photography’s success is perhaps best illustrated by the studio’s new home in the art district of downtown Billings, Mont.
Like all things Clark Marten Photography, the new location – which they moved into about three months ago from their previous location in Columbus, Mont. – personifies the high standards they have set for themselves.
“We’ve spent about five months remodeling the space, which is in a 100-year-old historic building in the downtown art district. It’s been a long journey, but it will pay for itself,” says Marten. “We’re in the Mecca of our area in the art world. There’s a big new parking garage going in close by, plus there are six microbreweries, a distillery and a lot of restaurants in the area.”
Real estate might well be all about the proverbial location, location, location, and that was a big part of the move. However, real estate is also about creating a space that’s warm and inviting. That was important to the Martens since they believe in taking an active role in their community.
“The key for us is that we enjoy entertaining. We put on charity events at our studio, and we wanted enough space to seat at least 60 people. We’re hosting an event in three weeks where we can serve a five-course meal with a wine serving, and raise money for charity,” says Clark. “There’s also an art walk downtown coming up, and I’m told that 500 people might walk through, so we’re serving hors d’oeuvres and wines. We plan to make a good first impression.”
And what an impression it will be (and is). Click on the photos for a larger view of Clark Marten Photography’s new digs and the attention to detail and design becomes apparent. Another important aspect of the space was the ability to showcase Marten’s photography in large-format, a presentation that is an extremely effective sales tool.
“I have some prints that are eight feet long and about six prints that are five feet long. Some of the homes we work with can easily display those sizes, so part of our criteria for a new location was plenty of wall and window space,” says Clark. “We have close to 100 feet of window space that we can fill with prints, and that’s a great look right off the bat. Being able to display our work at that size does its own job of selling.”
Most of the work, says Clark, is printed on either LexJet Sunset Photo eSatin Paper or LexJet Instant Dry Satin Canvas. And, as you can see from the photos, the images are masterfully captured, printed and framed, or stretched, on canvas.
When we originally profiled Clark Marten Photography in 2007, Clark commented: “My job isn’t to take photographs; it is to help people see their own beauty. I learned early on that what I do can have an impact on someone for the rest of their life.”
This simple philosophy has translated into a steadily growing business that now employs 11 people in the new downtown location. It also helps explain the criteria that went into the remodeling of the new building: the Martens were able to draw out the beauty of the building and put their personal touch on it, not only for a dynamic sales presentation, but a presentation that makes those who visit feel right at home.