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Look at the birdie, smile and say ‘cheese’ – life of a photographer

By Staff | Jan 17, 2009

Several articles in our Bridal Section this week deal with wedding photographers.

In case you haven’t noticed, Blue Earth has several photographers advertising their services with signs and sample photos hanging in buildings along Main Street.

That is a little unusual for a town this size.

Most small towns would be hard pressed to have one photographer. If there is one, chances are he, or she, would be operating out of a home studio.

Blue Earth has had a photographer on Main Street for many years. Photos by GT has been here for 25 years, and before they started, there was Behrend’s Photography.

Actually the city has a rich history of photography. Looking back through archives shows at least one photographer listed as having a studio almost since the city started.

Davis Studio was one, located on the north end of Main Street. One of their studio portraits has made its way into my office.

When Kayla Ritchey was doing some cleaning, she came across a large photo of a young girl that had been shot by Davis. It is one of those hand colored photos, so popular in the 1950s and 60s.

On the back it appears the picture had been entered in a contest by Faye Davis. It won a red ribbon. The picture is called “Cheri” and Kayla Richey wonders if it is a local girl.

After it appears here, someone is sure to let me know who it is.

There was another studio located on south Main Street. In an interesting bit of irony, it was located in the very same building that Mandy Jahnke recently purchased and turned into her new MCreationss Photography studio.

While she was cleaning out the basement she came across a large wooden sign advertising Ness Photography Studios. Tom Ness and his father before him, had a photography studio in Wells, and it appears there was a branch business in Blue Earth.

Register reporter Judy Sabin remembers that it was Ken Ness who took her high school graduation photo in the 1960s.

Looking at a history of downtown buildings, there are plenty more photography businesses listed.

One particular spot – a building in the old Hamilton block, no longer in existence – must have had a series of photography businesses housed in it over the years. Some of those are the following: Dietz Studio (Clara Butterfield, manager), Lasley Studio, Kirkham Photo and J.L. Kadgihn Photography (1954-1960).

Perhaps Blue Earth’s long list of photographers is one reason there are so many good pictures of downtown over the years. Many of those were taken by both the newspaper photographers, and the professionals on Main Street.

Sometimes the news and wedding photographers are the same people. There is a history of newspaper photographers moonlighting as wedding photographers.

Even this editor was talked into shooting a wedding on four different occasions, mostly back in the 1970s.

It wasn’t something I aspired to, and it took a lot of talking to get me to do it. It takes a lot of effort, and there is a lot of pressure to get the right shot, and make everyone ‘look good.’

This was back in the days of film, so there was also the added pressure that all the pictures would turn out, when they were developed.

Luckily the pictures turned out better than the marriages did. In an ironic twist of fate, all four weddings I shot didn’t last and the marriages ended in divorce.

Guess that is why no one asks me to take pictures at weddings any more.