A changing industry picture?
Photographers, once a fixture in American downtowns, are making a storefront comeback.
Beau Petersen has moved his BPhoto business to New Richmond's main street to have a more visible presence in the community. His decision mirrors a trend among some professional, portrait photographers who think people want to stop by a local shop to check out a person's work before deciding who to hire for a shoot.
Petersen started his photography studio business two years ago when he was laid off from his job at Andersen Windows.
"The business has grown ever since," he said.
Petersen specializes in weddings, but also works with high school senior pictures and family portraiture.
"What was once my hobby and my love is now my career," he said. "And it's still my love. I worried that I would lose my love of photography if I was doing it full time, but I haven't."
Since starting his business, Petersen has operated out of his home. While the arrangement was convenient for him at times, Petersen said it was difficult for him to separate his family life from his work life.
"Now I can step back and have a family life," he said. "The business can take over your life if you're not careful."
Additionally, Petersen said, clients aren't as comfortable coming to the photographer's home to conduct business. A storefront atmosphere is more relaxing and professional.
"I was kind of scared about doing a storefront," he said, "But this will be a benefit for everyone."
Petersen is leasing office space in the back portion of the New Richmond Area Chamber of Commerce building.
He's in the process of setting up his work and gallery space. He foresees a time when people stopping for coffee at The Bean Bag Coffee Shop can meander back to his gallery to look at some of his work. He also encourages others from the community to stop by any time to have a look.
"We're not fully up and running yet, but we will be in a few weeks," he said.
Petersen will also be displaying several photographs of community events in the front windows of the chamber office. The pictures will eventually be offered for sale to raise funds for the chamber organization.
As he gets settled into his new space, Petersen said he continues to upgrade his equipment and learn about new ideas in photography to better serve his clients.
The trend now is for photographers to shoot video at various shoots, then capture high-quality frames from the video file for printing.
"The way it's going, you'll be able to get the perfect image," he explained. "You just have to be ready for the next thing in photography. As a photographer, you can never stop learning."
Photographers also have to be aware of the current economic crunch potential clients are facing, Petersen said. He's adjusted his pricing scale downward to provide affordable options for everyone.
"We're trying to make our prices very reasonable, so everyone can have a professional photographer work with them," he said.
When someone does hire him, Petersen said his goal is to have fun while getting the best finished product possible.
"I try to come up with creative ideas, while also doing what the person wants," he said. "I just want to have fun with every client."
Petersen's office will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays or by appointment at other times. His phone number is 246-7982.
Visit www.ownyoursmile.com for more information or to view examples of Petersen's work.