New photographic studio offers ‘infinite’ possibilities

When Tim Struck first saw the building that would become his commercial photography studio, it had recently been vacated by a radiator business.

The portion of the building he was shown, Struck said, “was right out of the movie ‘Saw.’” It was where radiators had been submerged in an acid bath, so besides being filthy with grime and grease, it stunk something awful. They were calling it “the death room.”

Struck’s reaction?

“I took one look at it and said, ‘This is perfect.’”

That was fitting, in a sense, because that’s what Struck does for a living: he sees things in a way that other people don’t, then uses his talents to create images that are striking and beautiful.

That first look at the building took place last summer. After months of renovation and construction, The Komposition, a commercial photography and graphic design studio run by Struck and his wife Taryn, is open for business. It is located at 536 S. 18th St. W., a few blocks south of the Yellowstone Valley Animal Shelter.

The “death room” now holds an infinity wall, also known as a cyclorama wall, a curved, 23-by-23-foot, seamless expanse of white. Struck is still waiting for the arrival of a “soft box,” a 5-by-15-foot continuous light diffuser that will contain four 1,000-watt tungsten bulbs.

With his huge infinity wall and soft box, Struck said, he’ll be able to produce super-high-quality commercial photos that can be manipulated on Photoshop to create just about anything a client can imagine.

The Strucks also plan to rent the studio out to other photographers, videographers and video production companies. Tim Struck’s own work will focus on the use of photos as part of larger campaigns to brand and market local businesses.

He also plans to continue a line of work that springs from his love of automobiles: using the infinity wall to take pictures of beloved cars, what Struck described as “baby photos for guys.”

The Strucks are also teaming up with the other two tenants of the building, who are likewise involved in marketing, advertising and graphics: Don Kiesser and Kayla Freeman, of Transitional Marketing, and Vern Ball, owner of the Tint Factory.

It was Ball who got them into the building, and who might have prevented the Strucks from moving out of state. Tim is a native of Billings who studied photography and graphic design at Northwest College in Powell, Wyo. Taryn is a native of Glendive who studied art and public relations at MSU Billings.

DeLorean

Tim Struck

Vern Ball’s “Back to the Future” DeLorean, as photographed by Tim Struck.

They lived in Phoenix, Ariz., for eight years before moving back to Billings late in 2012. Tim continued working remotely for the ad agency he was with in Phoenix, and gradually branched out to do his own photography and design. He also worked for a time for High Plains Architects, doing marketing and architectural photography.

Through another friend with an interest in cars, Tim heard about Vern Ball and the DeLorean he had customized to look like the time machine in “Back to the Future,” and Tim ended up photographing that car.

Tim knew what kind of studio he wanted to build someday, but by last summer he and Taryn were thinking it might work better in Phoenix, or possibly Seattle. In early August, as they were driving to Seattle to check out the possibilities, Ball called and said he might have a studio for them.

He had had his Tint Factory a couple of blocks away from the radiator shop for 18 years, and he was looking to expand. Since part of his business involved wrapping cars in graphics for advertising and marketing, he thought it might be a nice fit to have the Strucks in the building.

As Ball put it, “I liked the bundling where you have the synergy from others.”

The couple

Tim Struck

Tim and Taryn Struck were photographed in front of the “infinity wall” at their new studio.

The Strucks looked at the space in mid-August and quickly made the decision to stay in Billings. Meanwhile, Ball, who is leasing the building from Clint Reynolds, sublet another portion of it to Kiesser, who moved his Transitional Marketing business into the space last fall.

Reynolds agreed to do the cleanup and renovation of the Strucks’ studio as part of tenant improvements, and a friend of Ball’s, a contractor named Clark Marsh, did much of the construction. Marsh also built the infinity wall, which he happened to be familiar with through his previous work with Disney Studios. All that help smoothed the way for the Strucks’ business.

“I don’t think we would have had the support if we had tried to do this in Seattle or Phoenix,” Taryn said.

Once Transitional Marketing was in the building, they realized that all three businesses could feed off each other, since TM is basically a creative marketing studio that does promotion and branding. Kiesser plans to work with Komposition on creating logos and coming up with comprehensive branding strategies.

“All the pieces of the puzzle are starting to fit together,” Kiesser said.

“I feel like we’re one big company, just different departments,” Taryn added.

Tim will create images and graphics that Ball can use to wrap cars, and Tim will use Ball’s large-format plotter printer to make advertising banners, and to create customized wallpaper from images like a panoramic photograph of the Beartooth Mountains that Tim shot.

Commerce

Tim Struck

Tim shot this Harley ride on Molt Road, just outside of Billings, as part of a promotion for the Billings Area Chamber of Commerce.

The Strucks expect to do a lot of business with car dealers and individuals wanting to photograph their cars. One of the selling points on the radiator building was an overhead garage door, meaning people will be able to drive right into the studio. Tim will then jack up the cars on a four-wheel cart and pull it into place in front of the infinity wall, to keep tire marks off the white surface.

To make it even more enticing for car enthusiasts, the Strucks plan to put a wet bar in the studio, so people can sit and watch their cars being photographed.

Still, the main part of their enterprise, as they see it, will be helping businesses get established or grow.

“It’s a one-stop shop for anyone trying to get their business going,” Tim said, or to help an established business create a new image. Tim said one goal is to help locally owned businesses reinvent themselves to compete with chain-owned competitors.

Tim will take the photographs, do his Photoshop magic and create graphics. Taryn will also be working with graphics, run the website, help clients develop office management techniques, write proposals and act as an account executive for their clients.

Tim promised to strive for innovative, even experimental approaches to branding and marketing, to give his clients ideas and images they haven’t encountered before.

“What we’re trying to do is bring that young, big-city feel to Billings,” he said.

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