Monday, July 29, 2013

50 Years Later: Celebrating Life, Photography and Friendships!

Good Morning Everybody,

DAZ 50 yearsWhat a grand celebration this past Saturday! It was wonderful to have so many of the people to whom I owe my success come by and celebrate my 50th year as a wedding photographer this past weekend. The guests attending spanned 40 years of my business career.  It was kind of a career reunion and a great time for all present to catch up, tell stories, and just enjoy a wonderful evening of good conversation, great food, and perfect weather.

Pictured in the photograph below from left to right: seated first is Marvin “Bucky” Armstrong, one of my original assistants/photographers who, along with his wife, assisted me throughout the late 70’s.  Next to Marvin is Tom Taylor, a good friend and occasional assistant/second shooter/Master Class facilitator whom I’ve known for 10 years.


Top left is my good buddy, Eric Cameron, a talented photographer who began working with me first back in 2006 assisting LaDawn with our Digital WakeUp Call Tour and then came on board to help on special assignments and as one of my Master Class Coaches.

Next is yours truly and next to me is Steve Bitter, my very first assistant.  Steve began helping out when he was 15 years old – I was dating his sister at the time.  Steve is also the assistant who probably has more stories to tell that anyone who has worked with me over the years – and there are some good stories to tell ;~)

50-1Next to Steve is Bill Mowery, a great guy, great assistant, and talented photographer.  Bill assisted mostly during the middle years of my career.  He always kept a level head and kept the occasional wedding chaos is perspective for all of us on the job.  I may be wrong here but I believe it was Bill who nick-named the equipment/lighting bag the DEATH BAG because of its weight – about 90 pounds.NOBODY liked carrying the death bag ;~)

Next to Bill is my good buddy, Damien Tepe.  Damien was sort of the IT brains of the operation around here for a few years.  He helped get our Digital Resource Center [link] up and running and helped keep all the workstations/computers running smoothly too.  Damien could also be trusted to help out on a wedding gig or two as well.  His real job is taking him to Dallas, TX in a few weeks so it was good he and his wife Laura could come by on Saturday.

Not pictured are Johnny Miller, not the golfer, but a great friend and talented photographer.  John was one of two photographers (Don Moore was the other)  that help put Ziser Photography on the map back in the early eighties.  Also, not pictured is Ace#1 Assistant and great photographer, Nicholas Viltrakis, who unfortunately had to leave early. Wait, there he is on the far right in my iPhone pano shot. 

Party Pano

Nicholas has been my “go to” guy these last several years at Ziser Photography for the huge, challenging events we occasionally booked at the studio. 

Also not pictured is Don Moore.  Don and I have been the best of friends for over 30 years.  Don was one of the studio’s first photographers along with Johnny Miller and he was also my first studio manager.  By the mid to late eighties Don had left the studio to pursue his own commercial studio endeavors – Kamera Art. Don and I still find it difficult to get together as often as we would like due to both of our crazy schedules,  but still remain super close friends. 

Also missing are a few other indispensible assistants Michael Nealis, Marc Bridewell, and photographer, Angela Haines all of whom had previous commitments or long distance that kept them from being here.  We still told stories about them too ;~)_________________________________________________________________

In this next photo you see most of the Ziser girls – truly the team that kept the wheels on the wagon at the studio. From left to right standing we have Sharon Blades, the studio bookkeeper and the life of the party around here over the years.  Sharon’s spontaneous, off the wall, remarks would put anyone within earshot in stitches.

Next to Sharon is Susan Kliendinst, my studio manager about 8 years ago. Susan was actually hired by my staff at the time while I was out on the road lecturing back in 2005.  I came back into town and was introduced to my new studio manager.  I was reassured by my staff that all would be fine. Susan jumped into her responsibilities with both feet – some would argue she did not “jump” but was thrown in head first into the studio’s “baptism of fire”.  We had a great run while Susan was at the helm.


Next to me is Shelly Roehrig who come on board as studio manager around 1998.  I was just elected PTA President and she was on of the PTA team at the time. She was giving me the tour of our Market Day operation – a money saving, fund raising arm of many PTAs. Before she was finished showing me the ropes, she had talked me into buying most of that month’s featured items.  I immediately asked her to come to work for me.  She got a job offer from UPS on that same day which she refused.  The rest is history. 

Our kids were about the same age so our work day began after the school bus picked up our kids and ended pretty much at 3:30 p.m. when the school bus returned to drop them off.  I also loved the fact that “snow days” where automatic studio holidays. Hey, school was closed so we all headed to the park for some fun sled riding – good times, and many wonderful memories.

Next to Shelly is Karen Armstrong, again a long time friend, wife to Marvin above, and one of the early original team at Ziser Photography.  It was good to see Bucky and Karen again – we haven’t seen each other in over a dozen years.

Miranda SensorexSeated bottom right is Gayle Lehman, our fabulous album designer and photographic artist for many years. I remember when we were sinking in the “digital seas” like so many other photographers in the early days of digital cameras and Photoshop. Gayle, along with Susan, stepped up too the plate to get us transitioned in our brand new digital world.

Seated on the left is LaDawn, my beautiful wife.  LaDawn who has been the marketing coordinator and tour manager for Photographic Resources, the lecturing arm of our business since our first national lecture tour together – Digital WakeUp Call - in 2006. LaDawn has handled all the back room and behind the scenes activities for all our lecturing projects with a great smile and with utmost thorough efficiency.  We celebrate our 8th anniversary this Wednesday.  Cheers to my Sweetie!

Not pictured is one of the Ziser Photograph’s most important studio managers, Lona Kidwell.  I met and hired Lona when she was in her early twenties. She had that special confident quality about her that made her a perfect choice for the position. I’ve never ceased to admire her fabulous sales skills, tenacious spirit, and outstanding positive attitude.  Lona and Don met during the early studio years and have been happily married ever since.

Also missing is Rebecca Blaut.  Becky came on board as studio manager in the early 90’s and navigated the studio some of it’s difficult growing pains always putting the clients first and always getting the job done.  Becky now operates her own successful studio [link] here is Cincinnati, OH and was not able to attend because of family commitments.


In this next photo below are pictured next to me are Jim Fauz, a long time friend, Master Class coach, and the person he says sold me my first SLR 35mm camera years ago (a Miranda Sensorex pictured above). Next to Jim are Wilma and Rob Kumler, owners of K&R PhotoDigital.  K&R, as we know them in the area, have been supplying camera and photo supplies throughout the Midwest since 1975.  Rob guided me through my first Hasselblad purchase in 1978 – talk about a traumatic experience – two 500CM cameras, 3 lenses, a few film backs – about $10,000! You definitely needed a pro bank account to be a pro photographer back in the day ;~)


Also missing from this photo are Linda and Dick Bass, owners of LinColor Labs, my lab of choice for all my processing back in the very early days of Ziser Photography.  Linda had the distinction of printing more award winning prints than any lab in Ohio and Kentucky during the eighties and nineties.  Linda and Dick eventually both competed themselves and were eventually honored their Master of Photography degrees from the Professional Photographers of America.  We really  missed them on Saturday.

There are others that were part of the team over these many years and my thanks and gratitude go out to them too.  It’s been a great run (so far) and I’m sure glad, grateful, and happy to have the support of so many good friends that have made DAVID A. ZISER PHOTOGRAPHY one of the premiere studios in the area.  Again, my thanks to everyone who helped make it happen. 

High Fives to each and everyone of you!


p.s. Check back tomorrow for a brief history In time about Ziser Photography

1 comment:

  1. Congrats David! I know I've certainly benefited from all that experience!