A family adventure remembered

Today is the anniversary of the day in 1975 that my parents opened their photography studio, PhotoVision. Below is the post I published in 2009 after my dad decided to close the studio and retire. It’s a good day to repost this:
My dad has decided to close his photography studio after more than 30 years in business. He and my mom started PhotoVision in 1975 and ended up having a remarkably successful small business. But it was more than just a business. My dad once told me that his primary motivation in creating his own business was to inspire me and my sister. Sure, he really loved photography, and he was determined to be his own boss. But he mostly wanted to show his kids that they could set their own course and live the life they imagined, and he knew that the way he actually lived his life would communicate a lot more than just words would. It’s easy to say, “You can do anything you want to do, son.” It’s quite another to live that and to even include the whole family in the adventure. As a parent myself now, I’m particularly aware that my career choices may inform those of my daughters. How many parents feel they must sacrifice their career dreams to provide material comfort to their children, when what their children might most benefit from is being a witness to or even a part of their parents’ pursuit of work that truly makes them come alive?

One day when I was in elementary school my dad came home from his job as a promising young executive in the northwest Georgia carpet business and announced, to my mother’s surprise, that he had quit. My mom probably was not thrilled at his initial, spontaneous strategy, but she kept smiling and pitched in and worked while he tried to get started by doing photos in a makeshift studio he set up in our living room. (Our one bathroom also served as a darkroom.) When dad found out a shopping mall was being built in our hometown, his dream started coming together, and PhotoVision was one of the first stores to open in the new mall when it opened in 1975. Five years later he moved the studio out of the mall and into its current location where it has been ostensibly the most respected photography studio in northwest Georgia for many years. 

It was certainly my dad’s vision that gave life to the business, but my mom was an equal partner. Her resourcefulness and business savvy were crucial in hard times, and her shining spirit and big-hearted kindness connected with everyone she encountered. People just enjoyed being around her. After my mom passed in 2005, the business just wasn’t the same. My folks always had great young employees working with them, but the dynamic that my parents had as a couple was one of the great draws of their business. Not only did they make great portraits, but their amazing love for each other and their joyful life spilled over into their employees’ and clients’ lives as well. It’s been hard for my dad to put the same heart into his work (or anything else really) without her by his side, and he actually seems relieved to be closing the business down now. He might come back to photography in the near future in some capacity, but for now he just wants to take a break. He deserves it. He and my mom had a great run with PhotoVision. It was a terrific studio and a great little business success. 

But for me, PhotoVision represents a dream fulfilled. The decisions my parents made and the way they lived their lives and loved each other continues to inspire me and all who know them. And by that measure, my parents’ adventure was a success beyond even their dreams. 

Mom & Dad