A Photography Pilgrimage

We just got back from a trip to the East Coast to visit younger son, Lane and his beautiful wife, Leslie. Great trip, great visit... (he made me paint his fence) #tomsawyered

On the way there, I (Chet) fulfilled a lifelong goal -- I made my pilgrimage to the George Eastman Home and Museum

Chet's selfie at George Eastman Home

Early photographers had to mix their own chemicals -- smelly and messy!

Early photographers had to mix their own chemicals -- smelly and messy!

Who was George Eastman? If you are old enough, you may have heard of Eastman Kodak... One of the largest, most successful companies in America -- now basically gone.

George Eastman did NOT invent the camera, or film, or photography... but he did take a highly specialized, highly technical process that was only available to skilled professionals, and make it available to everyone. Eastman didn't invent photography, but you might say he invented the "snapshot". The Kodak Brownie Camera made pictures available to everyone. Prior to Kodak, a well-to-do family might have a portrait made once or twice in a lifetime, but after Brownie came out, everyone had pictures, and lots of them!

George Eastman introduced the Brownie in 1900... and in 1902 he built a 30,000 square-foot, 50 room mansion, surrounded by 8 acres of fantastic gardens and landscaping. (You might say the camera was a success.)

I learned about the Eastman House in SIU Photography School, back in the late 70s (yes, I'm THAT old!) and have wanted to see it all these years. It did not disappoint.

The home and grounds are spectacular, and the history of photography on display was priceless. I can't wait to go again.

When we left the museum, I experienced a little bit of sadness -- maybe it was nostalgia -- but some of it was also due to reflecting on families, and history, and the role photographs have in both. Needless to say, there are plenty of photographs, from a hundred years ago, of Mr. Eastman and his family and friends in and around the mansion ... and one of the main pursuits of the museum today is the care and restoration of historic films and photographs. 

George Eastman and me...

George Eastman and me...

But, many experts believe our current generation, which thanks to social media, is the most-photographed generation ever, may eventually be the least-known generation, because almost all of our current images are never printed or archived, but exist only on a phone, or "in the cloud" (wherever that is...). It's not so much that the files may be physically lost, but that they may become unavailable due to formats changing over time. I have a crate of LPs that I can't play because my turntable died years ago, and who knows how many floppy disks we have lying around. Right now I could still find a turntable or a floppy drive if I really needed to, but how much longer will that be possible?

Photographic prints, like the Portraits we make here at the studio, are durable for generations, and most importantly, don't require electricity or technology to see them. All you need to enjoy your Family Portrait is your eyes!

If you have the opportunity to visit the Eastman House and Museum in Rochester, New York, do not miss it! It is well worth the trip!

The "Have it All" Family Portrait Option

The Family Portrait Session was pretty typical; Mom and Dad, three grown kids -- one married with a baby boy, and (great) grandparents. The location was the family farm, on a pretty spring morning.

Andi, the mom/grandma made all the arrangements (also pretty typical), and we had a fun time photographing the family while visiting and trying to get the dog and the baby to both look at the camera at the same time.

About a week later, Andi came to the studio to see the results, and she loved them all!

She loved the one of the whole family under the tree... but she also loved the one of them on the porch of their home.

Of course she also loved the one with the great-grandparents and grandkids...

But also the one of just the kids... and of course, the new little grandson!

Ultimately, she decided that since she loved them all, she should HAVE them all!

Andi's 24x36 Wall Panel

Andi's 24x36 Wall Panel

We created a unique multi-image composite that incorporated all her favorites into one beautiful 24x36 inch, framed wall art, to be proudly displayed in the home. We also created two more composite images, each slightly different to emphasize different individual images -- one for the great-grandparents, and one for the married son and his young family. These were printed and framed as 16x24 pieces.

The point is, there really AREN'T any "typical" Family Portraits -- because there aren't really any "typical" families. 

Composite Portrait Panels are just one of the many unique products at our studio, in addition to more traditional framed images. The right portrait for your family might be something completely different... but we want you to know that we are ready to work with you to create whatever you desire.


Showcase of Excellence 2016

Jazz Bands, Jazz Hands, and walking tacos...

Last Saturday was another exciting Showcase of Excellence at Quincy Senior High School, here in Quincy. 

The construction for the new additions to the school made it a little more interesting to find rooms this year, but it was still a wonderful day, as always.

We enjoyed photographing all the groups, and now we have posted them for you to see, and to order prints and downloads for yourself! Hope you like them.

Winter Wakeup Event

It's cold.
It's gray,
and... well frankly -- we're bored!

Christmas is over, school's back in session and everyone is just bundled up in their cocoon.

"Shrek" at QCT, and "The Heiress" at Quincy High School

"Shrek" at QCT, and "The Heiress" at Quincy High School

This is always the slowest time of year at the studio. We had a fun little burst of activity with some theatre events; the Quincy Community Theatre Quilta Awards, QCT's "Shrek", and the QHS Winter Play, "The Heiress". And of course our annual Valentine Special is going on (Valentine's Day is over, but the Special lasts till the end of the month)... but mostly, we're looking for some excitement.

So, to liven things up, we decided to try something new, it's a:

Winter Wake-up Event

What is a Winter Wake-up Event?
Well, that's up to you...

Do you have an idea for an off-beat picture? 
Now is your chance to be creative. Have some fun, think outside the box (or picture frame).
We want to try new things -- you have great ideas -- let's get together. Bring us your ideas: maybe the kids having a snowball fight, maybe a Family Portrait in your jammies in front of the fire. Maybe something you saw on Pinterest... 

Bring us your ideas and inspirations

Bring your ideas and inspirations. It can be just you, your family, your kids... group of friends... group of strangers(?), you name it!

This Portrait may not look that "crazy" or "daring", but YOU try bringing THREE CATS...

This Portrait may not look that "crazy" or "daring", but YOU try bringing THREE CATS...

Be silly, fun, crazy, daring, edgy, creative, artsy..., outrageous!
(Or maybe the only thing outrageous is that you are finally having a portrait made, but that's OK.)

Gather your ideas and call 217-228-1385 (or contact us). We'll talk, we'll plan, and then we'll schedule a time for whatever crazy thing you can think of. 
What if this sounds like fun... but you don't really have any ideas? Don't worry, we've got a few of our own... 

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Two-day "Quick Take" Special, April 2 - 3, 2015

The kids are out of school for Easter on Thursday, April 2 and Friday, April 3.

Take advantage of the break and come by the Studio for our "Quick Take" Children and Families Special!

Reserve your quick and easy half-hour, one-outfit appointment and get a fun Studio Session, with your choice of a Framed 11x14 Wall Portrait, -OR- 6 Gift Size (8x10/5x7) Portraits for only $125.

To schedule your Session, or to ask us a question, call us at 217-228-1385 or use this contact form:

Name *
I am interested in
I would like to
I prefer a Session
Please let us know if you prefer morning or afternoon (remember, nap-time is never a good time for toddler portraits!) Let us know if you have any special ideas or plans for your session -- we want you to LOVE your portraits!

A Little Girl with a Great Big Tradition

This is our new friend, Mary. One morning last week, we had a lot of fun getting to meet her and enjoying her wonderful expressions.

Mary is wearing her Christening gown… but it’s not an ordinary dress. Mary’s Great-Great-Grandfather was born in 1900. Early in the year 1901, at the age of 4 months and 22 days, he had his portrait made — in this very Christening gown. That makes the gown 113 years old!

Since that original portrait in 1901, each new baby in Mary’s family has had his or her portrait made in the same gown, at the age of 4 months and 22 days!

So here is 4-month and 22 day-old baby Mary, in her 113-year-old Christening gown carrying on the family tradition. What an honor it was for us to be part of it!

It was an ordinary day... until this mom called

Yesterday was a great day.


I was in a really good mood all day… and it started with a phone call I received.

Mid-morning, a mom called to schedule her son’s Senior Portrait. She told me that she was calling because we had done her older son’s Senior Portrait a few years ago, and she wouldn’t think of going anywhere else.

She told me how much she loved the older boy’s portrait, and how happy she was that they had come to us before. She went on to say,

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“There are so many new photographers today — I see them everywhere, all over Facebook; but their pictures just don’t have the ‘look’ that yours do. There’s something about the Portraits you made of my older son that stands out. So many pictures are just snapshots, or frankly just… bad. Yours have a depth that shows my son’s personality. He’s a good looking boy, but you brought out his best features and really captured who he is. 

I never get tired of looking at them.”

Now, am I just telling you this story to brag about my Portraits? (Well, maybe a little…)

But really, no, I’m sharing this because of how good I felt all day yesterday, just because of one phone call.

We really do put a lot into our work. Each portrait is a unique effort and we try to make every single client look as good as they possibly can. We hope that our portraits have a positive impact on the people that see them… but to get that kind of feedback, years later — to receive that acknowledgement and appreciation — really made it worthwhile. A few simple words changed my day for the better!

Think about all the interactions we have each day with all kinds of people — friends, strangers, and business transactions of all kinds… Imagine how great it would feel if someone noticed something you did and simply let you know that it was appreciated!

I’m going to start looking harder for ways to let people know that I notice them and what they do. Not just a perfunctory “Thank you”, but a real acknowledgement of their effort. Almost everyone says, “Nice pictures” when they see their portraits, but the Senior mom who called me noticed what it is that I really take pride in — the capturing of her son’s personality in a timeless portrait — one that she will always enjoy looking at!

Imagine what the world would be like if we all just simply noticed each other and complimented the good work that others do! 

I Love My Job!

On the radio today, they said this was the 4th coldest winter — EVER! (Or at least since we started keeping track.)

This was the view out the back door of the studio on February 7, 2014 -- Temp: 11 Below Zero

This was the view out the back door of the studio on February 7, 2014 -- Temp: 11 Below Zero

To be honest, there were a few weeks in January and February that had more cancellations than appointments! We had a few days where we might as well have been closed, because no one was getting out. (If we didn’t live three blocks from the studio, I might have stayed home too.)

Luckily, there is always lots to do, even when everyone postpones their portrait session due to a Polar Vortex. Of course, Portrait Sessions are LOTS more fun than getting this year's taxes in order, or filing stuff, or alphabetizing the old bills… and some Portrait Sessions are more fun than others.


Here’s one that was downright hysterical.

This is our good friend Noah, who is a member of our Kids Club. Today was his First Birthday Session, and he brought his friend Bear. After some more formal poses, Noah got comfortable in his diaper, hat, and bib, and we had some cake.

Lots of First Birthday Sessions end with a “smash-cake”… but often, our one-year-olds merely look at the cake, or take a few hesitant tastes.

Not Noah.


We believe he ate at least HALF of the cake — it was hard to tell for sure, because so much of it was spread on the floor and between his toes… but a lot of it was un-accounted for.


No matter where the cake ended up, Noah’s mom, grandma, and aunt — not to mention Jill and I — were laughing our heads off throughout the session. 

What a great job I have!