Through a lens gladly

PHOTOGRAPHER TERRY BAKER is shown with some of the 1,500 sets of wedding negatives he is making available to customers before closing his North Main Street studio next week. Baker started his career in 1974 and estimates he has taken about 26,000 portraits, including weddings, family portraits, team photos and high school senior corporate portraits. (Photo by Randy Roberts)

PHOTOGRAPHER TERRY BAKER is shown with some of the 1,500 sets of wedding negatives he is making available to customers before closing his North Main Street studio next week. Baker started his career in 1974 and estimates he has taken about 26,000 portraits, including weddings, family portraits, team photos and high school senior corporate portraits. (Photo by Randy Roberts)

By SARA ARTHURS
Staff Writer
After 40 years, 1,500 weddings and about 26,000 portraits, Findlay photographer Terry Baker is hanging up his camera.
Baker, co-owner with his wife Rande of Baker Photography, started his business in 1974 and has photographed weddings, athletic teams, high school senior portraits, corporate portraits, family portraits and nursery school photos.
“He’s done it all,” Rande Baker said.
Before Baker closes the door on his North Main Street photography studio next week, his thousands of customers will have a last chance to purchase their negatives. A sale will take place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 7 at the studio at 3200 N. Main St. The studio was also open several days in July for this purpose.
A complete set of wedding negatives, or a disc if the pictures were digital, is $20. Portrait negatives are available for $15.
The building, which is also owned by the Bakers, is up for auction on Aug. 14.
Baker’s career began with correspondence courses in photography while he was serving in the Army in the early 1970s.
The Findlay native started his business at age 24. One challenge was trying to determine a fair price for his photographs. He wanted to make a living but not be too expensive and said his business was known as an inexpensive place to have professional photographs taken.
Baker found photography suited his personality.
“In general, photographers are introverts,” Baker said.
He said photography has been a way to express himself where he “didn’t have to talk a lot.”
It did require people skills, however. At weddings Baker would find himself in the role of peacemaker, sometimes calming down brides who got upset when something went wrong.
Then there were the nursery school portraits. Often a teacher would tell Baker that he had no chance of getting a particular child to smile. Baker usually succeeded.
Nursery school photographs could be humbling moments, however. Recently one nursery school child elbowed a friend to look at Baker, saying “His camera’s really old.”
Portraits are different than weddings in that “they’re focused on getting pictures done,” whereas with a wedding the pictures are not the sole purpose of the event, Baker said. At a wedding it can be a challenge because couples want good photographs, but don’t want the photographer to interfere.
High school seniors coming in for their portraits would often bring in mementos, such as items related to being a track star or baton twirler. Occasionally they’d bring in something college-related but usually these photos were about the past more than the future, Baker said.
Corporations hired Baker to take portraits of board members and new employees.
Baker estimated that he has photographed 1,500 weddings, the majority of them in Hancock or Putnam counties but occasionally out of the area and as far as Reno, Nevada.
Many times, Baker has done wedding photos for two generations of families, including one wedding in which he had photographed both the bride’s and the groom’s parents at their own weddings.
He liked that weddings were “just a chance to be creative.”
Wedding photographs went most smoothly when the bride and groom were willing to “sacrifice some time” specifically set aside for pictures. Baker encourages couples to give photographers a little more time.
Baker started his own lab to develop photographs in 1985. Before that, he sent his film out of the area for processing.
He gradually made the switch from film to digital photography in 2001 and 2002. Newer technology has made a photographer’s work easier, he said.
“It’s become more forgiving,” he said.
Baker Photography opened at 333 Center St. before moving to 618 S. Main St., then 1610 N. Main St., then its current location. Baker said what has kept him in Findlay all these years was many long-term customers which made it possible for the business to exist. Rande Baker said there has been a lot of “loyalty and word of mouth.”
At one time Baker had two full-time and four part-time photographers working for him. When hiring an employee, he looked for someone who was likeable and a “people person,” and could be trained, more than for experience.
Anyone purchasing negatives from Baker will receive a release giving them copyright ownership and the right to reproduce the pictures however and whenever they want. His website offers advice on how to purchase a scanner. Digital files are Photoshop files, which cannot be read by many programs without being converted. More information on this is also on the website.
Baker said even if a couple ended up getting divorced, the wedding negatives might still have meaning since along with pictures of the bride and groom the negatives include pictures of parents, siblings and other family members.
Baker Photography can be reached at 419-422-4633.
Online: http://www.bakerportraits.com/ Arthurs: 419-427-8494 Send an E-mail to Sara Arthurs

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