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Archive for Friday, April 2, 1999

FATHER, SON DEVELOP A PHOTO BUSINESS

April 2, 1999

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A childhood hobby eventually "develops" into a family photography business.

Homer Frank learned to shoot photographs as a boy at a YMCA camp near his childhood home in Denver.

"When I was 11 or 12, I got myself a little darkroom," he said.

But it wasn't until World War II that Frank had cause to take his camera skills seriously. He found himself on an airplane taking nighttime aerial reconnaissance shots.

"I was with the photography division of the Air Force for (Gen. George) Patton's 3rd Army," he said.

Now some 54 years later, Frank and his son, Barry, own and operate Frank Photography Inc., 2305 Orchard Ln. While the father and son shoot the photographs, Homer Frank's wife, Sylvia, takes care of the books and ordering supplies.

"She's the glue that holds this place together," her son said.

The studio specializes in school, family and business portraits as well as commercial photography.

"We do most of the grade schools and junior high schools in Lawrence," Barry Frank said, referring to classroom and individual student portraits that are taken each school year. " " We photograph 8,000 kids a year in Lawrence and a few surrounding communities."

"We don't do weddings anymore," his father added, explaining that he and his son wanted their weekends free to spend with family members. "We had done 600 or so weddings up to then."

One thing Homer Frank continues to do is take his cameras and lights each Tuesday to the Lawrence Humane Society to shoot portraits of cats and dogs for its pet adoption program. The photographs appear regularly in the Journal-World.

Homer and Sylvia Frank moved to Lawrence in 1955. He worked at Reuter Pipe Organ Company and shot photos on a part-time basis. In 1972, he decided to make his hobby a full-time career and opened a studio in the basement of his home.

Barry Frank developed a natural interest in photography as a young child and ended up attending Kansas University and then the Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, Calif. He worked in Denver for five years as a photography apprentice and then moved back to Lawrence in 1990 to join his father's business.

And the Franks are looking to the future. A larger studio is being built on Barry Frank's 15-acre property west of Lawrence.

The building, expected to be finished in 12 to 18 months, will provide a larger camera room and better interior and exterior settings for shooting senior and family portraits.

The studio in Homer Frank's basement will continue to be used to shoot business or other photographs.

So what continues to draw the father and son to shooting photographs?

"Once you've got the technique down, then the job is a vehicle to interact with other people," Barry Frank said. " " You give people something they want."

"You meet a lot of interesting people," his father added, " " and you give them memories and records (of their families)."

-- Jan Biles' phone message number is 832-7146. Her e-mail address is jbiles@ljworld.com.

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