Lifestyle / Meet a Downtownie

“The Nest” to Open in Downtown Harrisonburg

The Nest photography studio to open in AprilAt least one new business plans to take up roost downtown this Spring.  Opening in April, The Nest will offer high-end studio photography from the top floors of the Houck Building on Main Street (next to the Bank of America Building), which also houses Blue Ridge Design Studio and Eugene Stoltzfus Architects.

High-end studio photography? What’s that?

The Nest photographers/owners Rebekah Girvan Budnikas and Katie Stoops seek to offer a different choice to families and couples looking to document their lives through photographs. Like many, I remember Family Photo Day as a grueling affair where we all hiked to the mall dressed in matching outfits, posed unnaturally close together and were punished for not smiling at the right moment and ruining the shot. The only consolation was that Family Photo Day, like visiting the dentist, only happened once a year.

At The Nest, the process will be much more relaxed, and the product is art with you as the subject. Seeing is believing: check out Budnikas’ wedding and family portfolio here and Stoops’ wedding portfolio here. If their work looks very different from the posed studio shots you remember from your childhood, it’s because it is.

Photo by Katie Stoops, Open Air Photography (

Photo by Katie Stoops, Open Air Photography (

Why Downtown? The Houck Tannery

Perched on the uppermost floors of one of the tallest buildings downtown, when it opens The Nest will already come with an old soul. The building housing the studio served as the Houck Tannery from 1870 to the 1920s – hooks used in the process of turning hides into leather still hang from the ceiling. Read more about the Houck Tannery in this recent article in eightyone magazine.

Photo by Rebekah Girvan Budnikas (

Photo by Rebekah Girvan Budnikas (

The decision to open downtown, especially in these economic times, was a calculated risk on the part of the owners, but being artists, was not without some romance. Says Budnikas, they wanted The Nest to be downtown in order to share their creative space with the community.  At their open house on Friday, April 17, they plan to display photographs of famous local characters, including quotes from the subjects ruminating about downtown.  You can suggest people to be included in the “Faces of Downtown” project here on this blog (Too late – I’ve already nominated Eddie Bumbaugh).  Opening night will also include a photo booth where members of the public can take photos of themselves with various props, and the owners are already anticipating participating in the Spring and Fall Museum and Gallery Walks, hosted by Arts Council of the Valley.

“[The Art Walk] is a great opportunity to meet other people who are interested in the arts,” says Budnikas. “There’s no other hub for that in town.”


3 thoughts on ““The Nest” to Open in Downtown Harrisonburg

  1. Pingback: New Photography Studio Downtown

  2. Pingback: Early Photo of The Nest « Ask Eddie

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