A photographer’s aspiration is to capture beauty. To tell entire stories, sometimes in a single image. Realizing that goal involves elaborate planning, exquisite timing, the help of modern meteorology, and often more than a bit of luck.
Professional photographers, Mariah James and Amber Reid, envisioned a better alternative to planning around inclement weather or chasing golden hour to capture the perfect photo for their clients. This shared dream led them to a joint venture called The Local Archive — an affordable, high-end studio that virtually eliminates the environmental barriers to fabulous photography.
The Local Archive has space to spare (6,000 square feet), professional lighting, plenty of props, even a spiraling multi-story slide, all housed in the sprawling, modern minimalist studio. It’s intended to be a blank slate: part set, part venue, all ready to be photo- and videogenic.
Thanks to leaders, entrepreneurs and advocates like Mariah and Amber, Downtown Fort Wayne is building a reputation as a hub for budding and established artists alike. I had the opportunity to talk with them, and they filled me in on the space and what drove them to create The Local Archive.
Meet Amber and Mariah of The Local Archive!
Molly: For those who aren’t familiar with The Local Archive, can you explain the concept of your studio—and what it provides to our local creative community?
Amber: We are an open concept rentable creative space, designed by photographers with creatives in mind. The Local Archive is a venue for photoshoots, video shoots, art shows, musicians, and any creative professional who needs some space to shine.
We wanted to make it an affordable option for creatives, so we created membership tiers at different price points. But we also do day passes, so there’s no need to be a member!
Molly: I understand you’re both creatives. What inspired you to create The Local Archive?
Amber: Necessity, really. For both of us, we needed a professional and affordable space to operate out of—a place that would provide constant inspiration, and a home for our businesses.
We also knew other business owners who found it difficult to work as photographers, unless the weather was ideal or their clients were comfortable being outside regardless of the temperature.
The Local Archive checked every box and then some.
Molly: I know you’ve recently moved from the old Bun Bar factory on Berry to your new home on The Landing. Why did you decide to move Downtown Fort Wayne?
Amber: Growth! There were limits to what we could do at the old location, one being the number of people who could utilize the studio at the same time. In our new location, we’re never short on space. There’s even room for storage spaces for our members!
The other—and most important—reason for the move is the prime location. We’re no longer on the “outskirts” of downtown. The heart of our city is full of vibrant life, and now, our clients and members can be part of it. Not to mention the murals, parks, shops, food, and coffee literally right outside our door!
Molly: You’ve moved from one historic building to another; what is it about old buildings that attracts you?
Amber: The history itself is a major work of art. From old beams and brick walls, to the original papermill in our new space, history gives texture to the stories people are telling as they create new art.
Molly: Lastly, what can people expect when they visit your space? And is there anything else people should know about The Local Archive?
Amber: Our space is constantly evolving—we’re always acquiring new sets, furniture, and props for our members and clients to work with. There are private restrooms, a locker room, and a hair-and-makeup room, all designed to help level-up any small business.
We also have a private loft featuring a full kitchen, which you can rent out separately from the main space to host smaller gatherings and parties. There’s a lot you can do with our space.
Check out The Local Archive online or in person:
118 W. Columbia St. Suite 201
Fort Wayne, IN 46802
To stay in the loop, like them on Facebook or follow them on Instagram!
Molly Conner is a Fort Wayne native and freelance writer. Having lived in Downtown Fort Wayne throughout her twenties, she loves watching her stomping grounds grow. With her love of storytelling and community in tow, she’s eager to tell Downtown Fort Wayne’s story piece-by-piece—exploring the people, spaces, and organizations that make it thrive.