Shutter-ing the PhotoShop's doors [Ottumwa Courier, Iowa :: ]
(Ottumwa Courier (IA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) March 21--OTTUMWA -- Before digital cameras, before one-hour photo, even before color film, Keith and Trudy Caviness were taking pictures and developing them for themselves and other photographers. Now, it's time to take a break.
"We've seen a lot of changes," said Keith, who, along with Trudy, has owned the Colormaster PhotoShop business since the 1970s.
But they've been in the field longer than they've owned "The PhotoShop and Colormaster" in Ottumwa. Trudy recalled starting small in the late 1950s before becoming full-time professionals in the early 1960s.
That's more than 50 years, which Keith put in perspective through a photographer's lens: "Our wedding in 1962 was the first wedding [the photographer] ever shot in color."
The chief photog was so concerned that he brought a backup photographer, who took "normal" black-and-white pictures -- just in case.
The couple first worked for the Duree studios. Keith stopped counting how many weddings he photographed after he reached wedding 500. He also became trained on the developing of color photos. Then Keith was asked to take charge of a new, top-of-the-line photo developing operation. It was started by professionals, run by professionals -- and photographs were developed for professionals. They called the venture Colormaster.
Eventually, the Cavinesses bought out their retiring partners; they soon started selling cameras and picking up film to develop for amateur photographers. At one point, the PhotoShop and Colormaster had 50 employees. As the business changed, they had to buy all new equipment. When it was smaller, they moved to the downtown location. That was about eight years ago.
Wherever they've worked, however, they've always worked together, Trudy said.
"You're trying to take a memory and preserve it. People preserve mostly happy memories," Trudy said. "We've been able to help people save their happiest memories."
Cameras today may seem to do all the work, but a good photo is still a good photo. The opposite is true, too, the couple said. But digital cameras come with their own strengths and weaknesses.
Every day, said Trudy, someone comes in panicking. The customer has hundreds of pictures on their photo memory card: birthdays, vacations, baby's first words. And now there's something wrong with the card. Sometimes Trudy or Keith were able to help. Sometimes those years of memories are just gone, wiped out completely.
A pastor came to the PhotoShop for help -- he had one card and one card only. He'd had it for 2 1/2 years. He'd spent that time on a mission in Africa. A glitch on the card meant he lost a thousand photos.
Back up your photos, Keith said. And if you insist on leaving them on the card, carry several cards, with fewer pictures on each. When you start getting concerned, even if the card is not filled up, switch to a new card and put the old one (preferably labeled) somewhere safe. But a lot of photos will never be seen.
"There's more pictures being taken than ever before," said Trudy. "But fewer are being printed. In the past, you'd have a shoe box full of snapshots. You'd sit, go through them together, have something to talk about."
Now, with a memory card, someone may come to Colormaster and ask to have "a" photo printed, Keith said. Facebook is becoming the new shoe box.
So why close up shop now? It's because of the ever-changing nature of the photo world.
"We were at a point where we were going to have to make a considerable reinvestment to stay in the business," Keith said.
Trudy was asked if she and Keith were still going to be involved in the community.
"Yes," she said. "In fact, we'll probably have time to do more."
At first, they may just relax. But then they'll have plenty to keep them busy.
Trudy is chair of the Wapello County Republican Party. Keith is chair of the Southeast Iowa Friends of the NRA. Both want to be more active in the operation of the church. They've got three grandchildren in Iowa, three in Utah and two in Germany.
The last day for the PhotoShop and Colormaster will be March 28.
-- Reporter Mark Newman is on Twitter @couriermark
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