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March 1, 2022

Photo Kitchen brings unique venue to Portland

Courtesy / The Photo Kitchen and Elle Darcy Photography Lauren Lear, left, and Krystina Fisher, right, plan to open the Photo Kitchen to serve the Portland creative community.

Take a food photographer and a cookie maker, combined with a large industrial space, and you get the Photo Kitchen, a new photo studio with a commercial kitchen that will be available for memberships, as well as venue rentals.

Lauren Lear of Lauren Lear Photography and Krystina Fisher of the Messy Cookie are preparing to open the Photo Kitchen at 1190 Forest Ave. in Portland in late April.

The space can accommodate photographers, influencers, cooking classes, workshop-based businesses, and events. It was designed with the Portland creative community in mind to be a resource for photographers and food professionals. The high-end boutique studio will also be available to rent as an event and workshop venue.

“It feels pretty unique,” Lear said. “We’re providing a home to photographers who are starting out, mid-career range and even established photographers. We want this to be a community coworking space for the creative sector.”

The Photo Kitchen is accepting membership applications, and has already gotten interest from people who want to use the kitchen and hold corporate events. There is even a potential client who wants to film a cooking series at the location.

“We want to be a community resource. This has a collaborative feel,” said Fisher. “Being an entrepreneur is a lonely ride on your own. This can help different creative people find a community.”

The two started searching for a space for the Photo Kitchen in April 2021 and looked at about 20 venues before selecting the Forest Avenue location. Their checklist of things they needed were diverse and hard to find: a room for a nearly commercial-grade kitchen, natural lighting for the photo studio as well as parking and access to Portland’s downtown.

“We had very specific needs. It took a long time to find the space,” Lear said, who has been in  Maine for 12 years with a photo studio in Westbook.

Meanwhile, Fisher started the Messy Cookie in 2018 and it became her full-time job in 2021. Workshops and cookie-decorating team-building events are now the biggest part of her business, she said.

The two met at a networking event about six years ago and became close friends.

The Photo Kitchen is working with Coastal Enterprises Inc., and sourcing funding from a variety of channels, Lear said.

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