My parents’ adventure and the end of an era

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

 

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11 thoughts on “My parents’ adventure and the end of an era

  1. Wow! I was a customer of your Dad when I was an undergrad at UGA! What a great story of hard work, dreams fulfilled, and success of the American Dream! Please send my best wishes & gratitude to your parents.

    Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. Love hearing stories of true success! Great to hear parents intentionally trying to inspire their children. My mom recently sent me an email—after commenting on my blog—about all the decisions she and my dad made to inspire my brother and me and to pursue their own dreams. I guess all it took was a different perspective.

  3. Pingback: EJ’s Blog
  4. I was one of the lucky West Rome High School kids that had many photos taken at our dances as well as some wonderful personal photos.  You, your sister and your parents will always be a part of my younger years in Rome.  I always loved the genuine Christian love your parents displayed for all of us!  Rome will not be the same with out them.

  5. Eric,
    I absolutely enjoyed it when your Mother would have her turn with the carpool to Elm Street Elementary. I LOVED the Camaro, ’67 I believe. Your sister Alecia and cousin Vickie were the 1st to play “spin the bottle” with me. I have very fond memories of your whole family. I also remember Alecia’s obsession with Mikey D’s french fries. I made many trips to Riverbend because the true real love of my life worked there with your Mom & Dad (Loretta).I hope all is well. Those days were much simpler than the lives we lead and follow today.

    Best Regards,
    Barry Nelson

  6. Eric, what a wonderful testament to your mom and dad. I truly can not express just what your mom and dad meant to my life. Coming from a divorced family, your parents provided an example for me of what a loving relationship should be. I could feel the love just walking through their door and they always had the biggest smiles and such a positive attitude…loving, caring, compassionate. How lucky you were to have grown up with such loving Christian parents setting an example for you and us all!

  7. Your Dad and I always said we were lucky that our children turned out so great. This articled is a testament to that statement. The last meal that your Mom cooked for me was chicken with peppercorn, she told me that was your favorite meal also. There is a lot that I miss about your Mom, but I sure do miss her cooking. Love to you and your family.

    Peggie Jones Storino

  8. I recall shortly after Alicia was born, your mom and dad came over to visit my husband and me at the Glenwood Apartments. During the course of the visit Alicia became sick and threw up all over Joyce.  Larry actually ran out the front door and I ran out the back door leaving Joyce and Ronnie to clean up the baby. Larry and I got better over the years, at cleaning up a baby’s mess, but all 4 of us were very young at that time.

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