MIDDLETOWN, CT — An award-winning portrait photographer has opened a new studio in a historic Middletown building. Brenda Tate, who specializes in beauty, glamour and branding photos for women entrepreneurs, works in partnership with wedding photographer Leigha Chhay.
Their new studio is a 1,786-square-foot, loft-like space on the third floor of the Pythian Building at 360 Main Street. The large studio and its niches “provide freedom for putting together creative sets, and the space has a full beauty bar,” according to a news release.
“This new studio is perfect for the genre I’m known for and how I want to photograph people,” said Tate, who prefers favoring her subjects with the warm glow of natural light, which the studio’s 40 feet of windows provides in abundance.
Tate’s portraits focus on “presenting women in a flattering, naturalistic way that highlights their beauty, glamour, or professionalism—in all cases highlighting each subject’s depth of character and openness to collaborations,” according to the news release. “Women entrepreneurs photographed by Tate emanate professionalism and an air of accomplishment, but also appear friendly and approachable in photos that provide an engaging point of connection for friends, clients, and business associates.”
The landmark structure on Main Street that houses the new studio was completed in 1876, with its dramatic green marble façade added later. It was built as a hotel to replace another hotel that burned down, according to the blog Historic Buildings of Connecticut, and was later sold to the Pythian Building Corporation. The third-floor housing the photography studio was used by a fraternal organization, the Knights of Pythias.
Tate began her journey as a professional photographer in 2010, photographing antiques for the noted antiques dealer and Woodbury Auctions owner Thomas Schwenke. She also began photographing food for the websites of area businesses, as well as for the social media feeds of prominent Chef Carole Peck’s Good News Restaurant & Bar, including promoting her appearances on WFSB’s “Better Connecticut.”
Tate studied with noted California photographer and educator Sue Bryce, and in 2016 she launched Brenda Tate Portraits with a studio in The Siemon Business Park in Watertown, where she lives with her family.
Doreen Dilger of Women Empowering Women was next door to the studio and inspired Tate to add branding photography for women to her focus on beauty and glamour.
Tate photographed Dilger, began connecting with other women entrepreneurs, and her business evolved from there, drawing clients from across Connecticut. Her work has been published in Connecticut Magazine and JustBeU Magazine, whose founder, Tina Rattigan, enlisted Tate to photograph winners of modeling contests.
She also works as Chhay’s second photographer at weddings, and in 2019 Tate first joined Chhay in the Pythian Building. They shared shooting space on the second floor, where each had an office.
“On the third floor we have one office and share everything else. It’s more of a combined effort than downstairs,” Tate said of the studio that can be booked by other photographers or for special events.
Tate’s portrait photography begins with a “strategic conversation after a client reaches out,” the news release states. “They discuss the purpose of the images, how the client wants to be photographed and the look they want to achieve, as well as wardrobe considerations and how much time a client wants to devote to the session.”
Tate then designs the shoot, which may include on-site locations outside the studio. On the day of the shoot, Tate brings in hair and makeup artists, lays out the outfits with the client, and then they begin shooting. Clients return in two weeks to view the images and select the ones they like.
“It’s more important than ever to a great set of branding photos,” Tate said, referencing how the coronavirus pandemic has restricted in-person meetings and business interactions. “Our current physical limitations only add to the importance of appearing approachable and polished across your digital footprint.”
For more information, visit her website here.