Silver Lion Photography
Photos by Josh Hart
Nacogdoches offers business opportunity and a backdrop for local photographers.
By Josh Hart
Chamber intern and SFASU May 2012 graduate from Hemphill, Tex.
Four Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce members are photography companies who shoot everything from weddings to senior portraits to community events. The businesses are Creative Photography, G. Patterson Photographic Studio & Gallery, Silver Lion Photography and Ballenger Photography.
Clay Bostian had his first experience with Creative Photography in 1990 as an intern while attending SFA. Then in 1994, Clay, along with a business partner, bought Creative Photography from Steve Kozak, the original owner. Over the next year, Clay bought out his business partner and became the sole owner.
When it comes to growth, Bostian says that he would love to do more marketing and gain volume, without sacrificing creativity. “As far as a growth goal, it would be nice to get the volume of clients and sessions up a little bit,” Bostian says, “but if you try to do too much volume, then you can’t do as many custom products. Sometimes the creativity suffers if you do a lot of volume.”
Bostian says he has no plans to relocate to another location. “The one thing that I have working in my favor is that people know me in this area.” Bostian says he loves being in the downtown area because there are so many interesting locations to shoot within just a few blocks. “I would never trade this old building for a fabulous building in a mall somewhere, because then you’re just stuck inside. Here I can just walk out the door.”
Bostian believes that the biggest challenge for the photography industry is to define and qualify what professional photography really is. “There are no credentials to call yourself a professional photographer,” Bostian says. “The lines are becoming blurred between the hobbyist/high-end amateurs and professionals.” He says his biggest challenge for his business is to stay on top of marketing.
Creative Photography is located at 325 E. Main St., www.creativephotostudio.com.
G. Patterson Photographic Studio & Gallery
Greg Patterson wants you to feel like you’re coming home when he takes your photograph. That’s why he decided to move to his current location.
Patterson started his photography business, G. Patterson Photographic Studio & Gallery, in 1997. The first location was on North Street, but moved to his current location at 122 N. Mound St. in 2004, because he wanted “a studio in a house” and “to have a place that felt more like home to his clients.”
In addition to doing portraits for clients, Patterson also shoots yearbook photos, spring portraits, class groups and various other types of photos for schools and sports associations.
While he and his wife, Cindy, could move their business to a larger market and possibly flourish, Patterson said that they decided a long time ago to stay in Nacogdoches because they absolutely love the town.
Patterson says his biggest challenges as a small business are things he cannot control, such as the economy and taxes. As a photographer, his biggest challenge is to “continue to stay fresh and creative” and that “the perceived value of photography has changed over the past couple of years.”
Patterson’s advice to people aspiring to start their own photography business is to be legal about it, such as collecting sales tax. He also encourages budding photographers to get a good education. Patterson helps many photographers in that vein, teaching photojournalism at SFA in the School of Mass Communication.
Find Patterson Photography at www.gregpatterson.com.
Silver Lion Photography
Randy Coe, owner of Silver Lion Photography, started his family business more than five years ago after moving back to Nacogdoches from Houston. “I was looking for something unique to name my business and decided on Silver Lion, because I am a Leo and I received a necklace with a silver lion on it,” Coe said.
Coe has been shooting photographs professionally for eight years, but started shooting 20 years ago. He worked for a television station while he attended high school, which gave him experience working on commercials. He also worked on music videos and did live TV during basketball games.
Coe worked for a photography studio in Houston for about 2 1/2 years before moving back to Nacogdoches to open his own business. He chose Nacogdoches because he grew up here. Once his parents moved back to the area, he decided it was the right place to go. “It’s just a very friendly small town with a lot to offer,” Coe said.
Silver Lion Photography is located 222 Lloyd St., www.silverlionphotography.com.
James Jenkins, owner of Ballenger Photography, started his business in November 2009. Jenkins explains that Ballenger is a family name as well as his middle name. When Jenkins opened his business in the fall of 2009, things started slow. By spring 2010, word got out that he was doing photography. He acquired about half a dozen clients that spring, which he describes as still relatively slow. Business picked up the second half of 2010. Jenkins said that 2011 was great and that his business volume really began to improve.
While Jenkins shoots weddings and portrait photography, the areas he sees as his specialty are event, commercial, corporate and real estate photography. Jenkins says he does not have a studio, because the types of clients he’s looking to work for, such as construction companies and real estate agencies, would need him to come to their locations. In order to shoot photos for events such as the Texas Blueberry Festival, he has no need for a studio because all of his photos are on location.
There’s an old saying: “a picture is worth a thousand words.” If you were to say that to the photographers in Nacogdoches, they would tell you that 1,000 words aren’t nearly enough to describe the beauty of a well-shot photograph.