For more than a half century I have been mastering my craft and fine tuning my lighting and posing skills. I learned early on that one important essential to becoming a great photographer is to get it right in the camera the first time, capture that moment in time; many times you don’t get a second chance, especially weddings. When I started photography there wasn’t any peep screen on the back of the camera to check to see if the photograph was acceptable.
I’ve been blessed that I’ve had great mentors along my photographic journey to becoming a photographic artisan. Two of my favorite mentors that I've known for over thirty five years are the Perry's from Kingsport, TN. Ken & Christina Perry ahieved certified Tennessee Photographer awards by PPA and also the coveted awards of Master Craftmen degrees from Professional Photographic Assocaition of America (PPA). They both have been masters for over thirty years. Over the many years I've known them Ken & Christina have inspired me to do my best, rise above the rest and create memories that will live forever in time. Christina L. Perry, 78, of Kingsport, TN passed away on December 31, 2014 after a courages battle with colon cancer. My deepest sympathy goes out to the entire Perry and Lensgraf families.
I dedicate this websie to Cristina Lensgraf Perry. My fond memories of her will be with me each and everytime I release my camera' s shutter.
Growing up I was interested in photography as a hobby taking photographs
of my pets and people. Anywhere I went my camera went too. My career jump started just after I enlisted in the Army early in October of 1960 at Fort Dix New Jersey. I went through basic training like everyone else except I was given an extra assignment. One day early on in basic training I was told to report to my company commander. He told me he read my enlistment papers and asked me if I could do special project for him. He wanted me to photograph different aspects of basic training and focusing on what his men went through during the cold winter months. From what I saw, good, bad or indifferent, he said. That was the start of my career even though I didn’t get any extra pay except a pat on back. After I got married on December 15,1968 I started back into photography again. Just before my daughter Kimberly was born I went out and bought a new camera so I would be better prepared to take family photographs. Even back in the sixties it was expensive buying camera equipment. So I decided I had to start making some extra or my wife was going to through me to the wolfs or possibly kick me out--it’s cold in Philadelphia in the winter. I called most of the professional photography studios in Philly and they all told me the same thing--you have to work for free at first by going out with their staff photographers to cover the affairs. Soon after that I was working for most of the studios and even started to book my own affairs. Early In seventies Myron Freidman of Myron Studios in Northeast Philadelphia asked me to become his partner. I had worked with Myron many times previously for free, so he knew my work and loved my marketing abilities. He offered a good salary to work for him full time. Soon fter he made me a partner in his
studio. Myron Freidman was my first fulltime mentor, he paved my way to becoming a paid professional portrait and wedding photographer. Myron was an avid admirer of the old black & white masters like Ansel Adams, George Hurrell. Click all links:
Myron often went to master’s seminars like Philip Stewart Charis, http://www.phillipstewartcharis.com/home.html I later in 1982 also visited with Philip Charis at his studio in Pasadena, CA.
Monty Zucker is another well known master craftsman photographer. Myron met Monty when he was teaching and going to PPA monthly meetings.
In 1970 Myron and I went to one of the first Monty Zucker three day seminars in Silver Spring, MD. At that time Monty was known for wedding portraiture utilizing window north lighting, posing and outdoor formals. I was very fortunate to personally know him early on in my career. Monty
passed in 2007 from pancreatic cancer. Most professional photographers worldwide that knew him feel all feel the same as I do. He lead the way in our craft like no other--he was a master of all master artisans. He inspired me like no other mentor I've ever have known. Monty made me who I am today. Monty Zucker's legacy will last forever in time. He will be known as the world’s most renowned master wedding & portrait photographer ever.
Myron had a wealth of knowledge in all phases of photography. I picked Myron’s brain and watched him carefully as he produced many portrait master pieces of art. From shooting color film, black & white darkroom printing, film or print retouching, texturing on finished prints with various spray enhancements. Joe Zeltsman was another mentor that we both
knew, he was at great master of posing and composition.
Peter Gowland, http://www.petergowland.com/default.htm
In 1984 I personally met with Peter Gowland at his home in Pacific Palisades, CA a charming and humble man. We discussed studio lighting and his thoughts opinions of my new constant light source before I brought it to the manufactures for evaluation. I set up a meeting to discuss and demonstrate my constant 24 Hour North Lighting System using ultra high output fluorescent lightbulbs and ballasts with specially designed lighting stands. I was sad to her him pass, I still have his business card he gave me.
Still today I remember the first wedding I photographed by myself out of thousands I’ve done over these many years till 2001. I received seventy five dollars for shooting a wedding for Marion Whipps Studio in Bristol, PA. The reception was held at fire station’s hall with a nice food buffet. The last affair was for a Bat Mitzvah at Eagle Trace PGA golf course in Weston, FL. It was for the director’s daughter at Ebcot Center at Disneyworld in Orlando, FL. Her grandfather [famous book writer] paid for the extravagant
one hundred thousand dollar affair. The reception had everything from filet mignon, prime rib, lobster and even caviar all catered in a huge white tent outdoors,the live music never stoped. I was paid one thousand dollars for shooting the fancy affair from a studio owner. I remember doing many weddings for Victor Foschi a well known master photographer in Philly;
most of his clientele were Philadelphia finest lites (crème de la crème). Mr. Foschi would only give me five rolls of film [four to shoot with and one for an emergency situation or if the family requested more photographs than planned. He developed the film as soon I brought it to him and then selected all the images on his light box to print for the brides wedding album. They had to be right or I was out of a job. Most times the bride & groom and the families purchased the entire album of 8 x 10 inch prints that Mr. Foschi selected. I didn’t like being restricted to taking such few shots at these extravagant affairs. I told him I had to leave him and find a studio where I can be more creative. Once you lose the moment in time It's gone forever. On the other end of the spectrum I also worked for Joe Saget Studios, his son is Bob Saget, actor, director and known for America’s Funniest Home Videos. Saget Studios was another main line studio that only catered to Philadelphia's main line affluent people. Joe told me it's okay to be creative, if you don’t capture the moment I can’t sell it.
I’m internationally known since I’ve had my work published in photographic trade magazines and hardback books since 1970 that have been sold worldwide. The photograph of my wife Cherry Lynn Detofsky that you see on my home page is a copy from the trade magazine Rangefinder from 1972. I used The candlelight portrait of the bride was taken from a hardback book published in 1970 called Behind the Wedding Camera by Jack Curtis taken in 1970.
The photograph of the young pregnant girl & Cocker Spaniel was taken in 1988 at Charboneau Photography Studio in North Hollywood, CA. I was the first to design the deep parabolic octagon directional umbrella. The first
to bring it to market was Calumet, manufacturing it in the mid eighties. I also developed the first working high output fluorecent lights that are now the standard for all TV stations worldwide and for many studio portrait photographers like Peter Hurley wanting a cool constant soft light source.
Peter Hurley ex-model now known for for his great headshots charges
$1,200 per sitting [no pictures included]. Peter just started as a headshot photographer in 2008 and has been using my fluorecent lighting system as his main light source with phenomenal success. Early in the eighties when I showed my 24 hr. North lighter System to all the lighting manufactures in LA they all passed on it saying the catchlight was to big in the eyes, now it's acceptable. I've always been an early innovator thinking outside the box.