Midwest Photo Exchange is proud to employ 20+ professional photographers for our staff. Not only are they knowledgeable about our products and engaged in the photographic community, but they are also really cool people.
Stu’s (owner) journey as owner of Midwest Photo Exchange began when he started taking photos to document student protests during the Vietnam War. Armed with his trusty Petri camera, Stu captured everything, from the strikes to the speakers to his friends in the hippie movement to clashes between students and the National Guard. Stu loved taking pictures and studying the theory, philosophy, and history of photography. He was greatly inspired by Farm Security Administration (FSA) photographers like Walker Evans and Dorthea Lange, as well as Paul Strand, W. Eugene Smith, Henri Cartier-Bresson, among others. However, his background wasn’t in photography: he majored in education in college and taught history in middle school for several years, and in fact still thinks of himself as a teacher. He didn’t exactly have a business background either, though his father owned several clothing stores in Cleveland. Stu taught for several years before enrolling in grad school. That’s when his first son, Moishe, was born. His second son, Saul, was born a year later. Now, Stu was married with two children, and he knew that a graduate assistant’s stipend wasn’t going to cut it. Years earlier, he’d sold his old Petri camera for more than he’d paid for it, and had continued the trend—buying and selling cameras—to upgrade his own photography gear. He ran with that model, and in 1977 began buying and selling used cameras as additional income, to supplement his stipend and help him take care of his family. This little operation took off and eventually Stu had to hire people to help him package his shipments so he could help raise his four children and finish the PhD dissertation he was also working on. (One of these early employees, Jim, still works at Midwest Photo Exchange today.) The rest, as Stu says, is history. Midwest Photo Exchange moved into its current location in Clintonville in 1989 and it just grew from there. Advice Stu has for someone who wants to start his or her own business is to love the business you’re in, and to be aware that as much work as you think starting a business is does not even compare to the amount of work that you are actually going to have to put into it. You will not have a life. You’re working from 7 a.m. to midnight, and by the time you get to bed you can’t even sleep because you’re constantly thinking about your business. Stu loves what he does and is grateful for the energy he has to continue doing what he loves. He was motivated to start this business in large part for his family, and he’s grateful that his children have been and continue to be involved in Midwest Photo Exchange’s operations. In the past seven years, Midwest Photo Exchange has hired some awesome people to its staff, and Stu can finally start to relax a little bit. In his free time, he’s a prodigious reader, specifically of history, philosophy, and Jewish studies, and he’s always listening to music, most often classical and jazz.
Moishe (president) was only 8 years old when his father brought him into the darkroom to teach him how to make photograms, and by the time Moishe was 10 he was washing cars all summer to pay buy a motor winder for his Yashica FX-D. His defers to his favorite photographer, W. Eugene Smith, to sum up his feelings about photography: “A photo is a small voice, at best, but sometimes—just sometimes—one photo or a group of them can lure our senses into awareness. Much depends upon the viewer; in some, photographs can summon enough emotion to be a catalyst to thought.” Moishe has worked for MPEX since 2005 and values the relationships he’s built with his customers and the staff. As both a retailer and a customer, Moishe values expertise, personal relationships, and the desire to educate, so that customers can feel empowered to make decisions that are best for them. His advice for new photographers is, simply, to study hard and take a million photos. At home, Moishe is fairly low-key, as billiards and reading rank among his favorite hobbies (seriously, ask him about his pool cue collection), but he also likes to get outside and mountain bike at times. He likes Columbus because it is family friendly and just the right size. As a kid, he was a big fan of The Wonder Years, and the best concert he went to was Lollapalooza 1991. His favorite non-alcoholic beverages are milk and mango juice, but get some of that liquid courage in him and he can belt out a serious version of “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” at karaoke.
Ken’s (sales manager) interest in photography began when he was 13 years old and bought a Brownie from a church sale, but he started shooting seriously in 1998 when he got his first job in a camera store. He found that having the ability to borrow any camera on the shelf and go shoot was amazing privilege and educational experience. Ken brought his knowledge and expertise to Midwest Photo Exchange in August 2009 as our sales manager. His favorite part thing about working at MPEX is how we can move and change as fast as technology does, and that he gets to work with incredibly intelligent photographers who have a true passion for capturing images. Now, you can find his photos on Flickr, under the username RewisRotos. He also conducts MPEX’s recovery service and is always pleased to see a customer who thought that their photos were lost forever jump for joy when their images are restored. He loves to photograph landscapes and macro, but his creativity is most inspired by traveling somewhere new and feeling compelled to document everything. However, he loves how Columbus also provides endless photographic opportunities because there is “always something happening somewhere” in this city. Ken primarily shoots with Sony, and his favorite piece of gear is his BlackRapid Sports Strap, which has made carrying his camera while on vacation much less cumbersome. His advice for new photographers is to invest in great glass: your lens is what makes the most notable difference in your photographs. When asked what his favorite karaoke song is, Ken said, “What?” But we suspect he’s the kind of guy who secretly rocks out: his purported “best concert experience” was Whitesnake.
Casey (Nikon expert) has worked for Midwest Photo Exchange since 2009 and has been taking photographs for over a decade now. When he was quite young, he watched the 1976 remake of King Kong starring Jeff Bridges, and he was so entranced by the “badass mofo”-ness of Bridges’ photographer character that he knew from then on what he wanted to do with his life: chase giant monkeys through the jungle. (Just kidding.) Being our Nikon expert, he shoots primarily Nikon. His hobbies include “magnets” and his favorite show as a kid was Kids in the Hall. The scariest movie he’s ever seen is Poltergeist, which he watched for the first time when he was 7 (What idiot rated that movie PG? That guy pulled his own face off, for crying out loud). His ideal vacation spot is Cawker City, Kansas: home of the world’s largest ball of twine and birthplace of silent film actress Claire Windsor. If it wasn’t already obvious, Casey likes movies.
Tim (imaging expert) has been taking photos for 10 years. He started working for Midwest Photo Exchange in 2009, and the best part of his job is the wide variety of customers he gets to help on any given day, whether they’re in the store, across the country, or in completely different part of the world altogether. Being a fan of the outdoors, Tim tends to focus on nature and landscape photography, and his favorite piece of gear is his Canon Powershot because it’s small, portable, and he always has it with him. (“The best camera is always the one you have with you,” to quote Chase Jarvis.) However, Tim also highly recommends not overlooking gear ties, which he uses to organize all the loose cables in his camera bag, his home, his car, and even when kayaking. His advice for new photographers is to take lots of pictures and practice with all the different settings on your camera one at a time to learn how each setting operates and what its results look like. In the digital age, Tim reminds us, taking another picture costs nothing extra.
Sonnie (Canon expert) has been taking photos for twenty years. He first got into photography when he bought his first film camera before traveling around Europe for a month (he wasted a lot of film, but he got a few keepers). He shoots Canon and has been with Midwest Photo Exchange for 3 ½ years, currently as our resident Canon expert. His favorite photographer Is Joe McNally, whose attitude towards photography (it isn’t work if it’s fun) Sonnie admires. In the past few years Sonnie has really gotten into landscape; the idea of taking a landscape photo seems easy, but the challenge of drawing the viewer into the photo is much more difficult than it seems. Hobbies include snowboarding and travel. His ideal vacation spot is the Pacific Northwest and his favorite childhood TV show is Dukes of Hazard.
Steve H. (lighting expert) has been shooting professionally since he was 16 years old, starting with a freelance gig he had for a small town newspaper. He started shooting even earlier than that: when he was 8, he shot ten rolls of frogs and toads on Kodachrome with his mother’s Konica 35mm, which he still carries around with him to this day. Steve began working as MPEX’s lighting expert in May 2013 and loves working with the helpful, friendly staff. He also likes helping customers troubleshoot, such as a recent experience where he helped a studio photographer fix his triggering system, saving him a lot of money. Photographically, Steve is inspired by movement and action, from racing to wildlife. He primarily shoots with Nikon, and his favorite piece of gear is his Nikon 14-24 F/2.8, but he also has a Canon setup. His advice to new photographers is never take “no” for an answer. In his free time, he enjoys martial arts, boxing, hiking, camping, waterskiing, fishing, and watching hockey. His most prized non-photographic possessions are his dogs, Moose and Meeka, though his motorcycle is a close second. His ideal vacation spot would be somewhere with a beach and woodlands, and his current long-term project is setting up a “man cave” in his garage.
T.J. (video expert) has always been drawing, painting, or taking pictures, but he’s been serious about photo and video for about three years. He loves that Midwest Photo Exchange is a laid-back, friendly place where he can talk to people who are interested in photography. He loves working with customers that are new to photography but are clearly excited, those customers who are unsure of what equipment to use but have images in their heads that they want to bring to life. Inspired by color, texture, contrast, faces, lines, and shapes, T.J. got into photography through his love of composition—he looks at photo and video the same way he looks at painting, just in a different medium. He admires the works of Edward Weston, Paul Strand, Man Ray, and any other photographer whose work can stay in his mind. He shoots with Canon, but he’ll use whatever camera is available. As a professional videographer, T.J. never leaves the house without a battery grip, which is a must when shooting a lot of video, or when he doesn’t have time to switch batteries. The best concert he’s been to was when the Black Keys played Skully’s, and his favorite non-alcoholic beverage is coffee.
Jacob (sales associate) has been taking photos for seven years. He joined the MPEX team in June 2012 and loves working with his fellow staff members and customers. Jacob started taking photographs when he saw his friend taking amazing shots of cars, which prompted Jacob to purchase a Canon Rebel and start taking photos of his own car. Chase Jarvis is Jacob’s favorite photographer; he admires how Jarvis can maintain a ridiculously busy schedule while remaining so calm and easygoing, the sign of a true professional. Besides cars, Jacob photographs weddings and portraits, and finds inspiration in photo blogs and forums. He shoots Canon all day, every day, and his 35L lens gives him goosebumps. His advice to new photographers is to just keep plugging away: photography, as with anything else, takes time and patience. His favorite non-alcoholic beverage is Mountain Dew, and his most prized (non-photography-related) possession is his car. In his spare time, Jacob enjoys disc golf and cars—driving them, working on them, photographing them, etc. His favorite TV show growing up is the cartoon Doug, and the scariest movie he’s ever seen is The Exorcist.
Annie (web orders) began working at MPEX in August 2013, and she loves that she works with awesome people and gets to learn more about the latest camera equipment. She’s been taking photographs for thirteen years, starting when her grandmother, an artist, handed down her camera. Since then, it’s always been one of her main interests and passions. Annie Leibovitz is one of her favorite photographers, even more so after hearing her speak at the Wexner Center in 2012. Annie (our Annie) loves to photograph landscapes and portraits, and finds inspiration in complementary colors and design. On a professional level, she shoots weddings, engagements, and boudoir photography. You can find some of her professional work at www.agirlinlace.com. In her spare time, she likes going to shows and concerts, printmaking, painting, snowboarding, hiking, and traveling, and her most cherishes possession that isn’t photo-related is her 4-year-old Yorkie, Linus.
Being raised by a photographer, Colleen (rentals) practically grew up in a darkroom, helping her mother develop film and prints. Throughout elementary and middle school she was playing with 35mm black and white film, mostly taking pictures of her pets. A little later, she started gaining recognition at the Fort Hayes Commercial Photography program. The portfolio she created there led to a scholarship from the Columbus College of Art and Design. Along the way, Colleen found inspiration in photographers like Helmut Newton, Tina Barney, and Francesca Woodmans. She’s been working at MPEX since 2011, and values the fast-paced environment and how every day offers something different. A “hidden gem” in the store that she highly recommends is the Zeiss lenses in the Rental department. She shoots primarily with Canon and Hasselblad, and her favorite piece of gear is the Profoto white soft light reflector for its flattering like source that makes everyone, everyone, look good. Her favorite TV show as a kid was the X-Men cartoon, her most cherished possession is her cat, and she can sing Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” like a karaoke champion. Her ideal vacation spot is a rented house somewhere near an ocean with a fridge full of food, a good book, and a towel to lay on, but she would be hard-pressed to leave behind the great people who live in Columbus.
Dennis (rentals) has been with Midwest Photo Exchange since 2003. His favorite aspect of working at MPEX is that he gets to meet new and interesting people and help people expand their business growth through our rental department. He got into photography by taking family photos. Now he shoots fashion with Canon and Hasselblad, and he never goes to the studio without a beauty dish. Recently he traveled to a designer’s farm to take part in a fashion photo shoot. His advice to new photographers is to study, practice, and shoot often, and to find a mentor to guide you. When he’s not taking photographs, Dennis likes to powerlift. His most cherished possession is his Bible, and his favorite show as a kid was Speed Racer. His ideal vacation spot is Monte Carlo, and he looks forward to traveling outside the U.S. , but he does love the people of Columbus. More of Dennis’ work can be found at www.dennisharber.com.
Since 2008, Steve (rentals manager) has been helping run the show at Midwest, bringing with him the mentality that we don’t only sell photographic equipment and supplies but that we listen to what shooters want, we are always aware of trends, and we are open to changing up the product list if that means filling customers’ needs. A veteran of photography, having gotten started snapping pictures 30 years ago, Steve began shooting when his parents gave him a Kodak 126 cartridge camera to chronicle their summer vacations in Fort Myers Beach, Florida. Pretty soon, he was hooked, and began saving grass-cutting money to purchase a Minolta SRT-101 for shooting 35mm film. He admires the work of many photographers, especially those who he’s me at the store, including Greg Bartram and Dave Yunker. In regards to his own photography, Steve likes to shoot nature and landscapes for fun, but he also does senior portraits, sports photography, and weddings on the side. He’s shot primarily with Canon since the creation of the EOS line, and his favorite piece of gear is his Canon 70-200 2.8L lens for its sharpness and ability to be used in any low-light situation. When he can find the time, Steve likes to golf and ride his motorcycle, and he also enjoys the many amazing restaurants that Columbus has to offer. He likes to vacation in Florida, New York, and Mexico, but his ideal vacation is to take a couple of weeks to ride his motorcycle out west and take pictures.
Jim (educational sales and support) is one of the original members of the MPEX team. He and the owner, Stu, have been working together for around 28 years. A lot has changed in our industry and Jim is happy to say Midwest Photo has changed with the times to continue to help and service our customers. When digital took over the photographic market, Jim moved from selling large and medium format cameras and supplies to working with schools, universities, and other businesses. He really enjoys entering into a school and getting to know the program and how he can help make it better. Jim’s favorite part about working for MPEX is being able to hook up a graduating student in photography and/or video with a company we also work with. The chool, graduating student, and employer all benefit. Jim’s a proud papa and loves watching his kids play sports. His daughter is studying athletic training Wilmington College and plays basketball for the Lady Quakers. His son, a junior in high school, plays hockey and baseball, almost year-round. loves taking his wife, Brenda, and his kids to grandma’s cabin in the woods about one hour north of Columbus. The kids enjoy fishing and shooting guns up there in a rustic setting.
An MPEX employee since 2010, Adam (commercial sales) has been taking pictures since he was a kid. Our lighting specialist, Adam recommends that his customers not overlook Cinefoil, which is sort of like black aluminum foil that controls light and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, but his overall favore piece of gear is a Camdapter Handstrap. Adam wouldn’t say that he has a favorite, but one photographer who’s taken more images that really move him is James Nachtwey, whose ability to be in really bad places at really bad times and still make stunning images Adam finds inspiring. Primarily, Adam shoots Canon, and he likes to shoot places he’s never been before. Nothing beats walking around a new city with a camera. His advice to new photographers is to keep moving: if you don’t like a shot, you have to move, get higher, get lower, anything to make your current shot different from the last. A natural-born adventurer, Adam enjoys hiking, backpacking, and mountain biking, but he also loves to eat, and his favorite part about Columbus is its diverse options in terms of food and restaurants. The movie that scares him most is Beaches.
Jessica (commercial/educational sales support) has been working at MPEX since March 2013. She’s been a photographer since 2006, and in 2010 she started her own business, Jessica Abbey Photography, specializing in portraits and weddings. She likes to photograph animals, specifically dogs, and recently her favorite photo series has been Seth Casteel’s Underwater Dogs. She shoots Canon, and her favorite pieces of gear are her Profoto D1 1000 Airs because they make lighting simple and hassle-free, a necessity for wedding photographers. She got into photography because she loves art and being creative, and wanted to apply these passions to her professional life. In her free time, Jessica loves going to concerts and music festivals, skiing, and traveling (her ideal vacation spot is Bali). She appreciates the diversity of activities that Columbus has to offer, and while she doesn’t really karaoke, she enjoys dancing. Her most cherished possession is her dog Bode (named after Bode Miller), and her dream is to start a nonprofit that takes photographs of shelter dogs to help them find the perfect forever home.
Tony (rebates/product description) has been working for MPEX since 2008, but he’s been taking photos since high school. He shoots in Nikon, and his favorite piece of gear is his D700 because its low-light performance makes it perfect for concert documentation and its image quality is ideal for large-scale prints. Inspired by photographer Erwin Olaf’s mastery of lighting and the writings of Jean Baudrillard, Guy Debord, and Jacques Lacan, Tony constructs and shoots large scale photographic installations to explore the world we live in and its relation to the image. His advice to new photographers is to always push oneself to make work that is unique, and to never be satisfied, your work can always be better. Besides photography, Tony’s interests include playing music (guitar, bass, and organ), biking, and going to concerts. He loves Columbus’ emphasis on community, its sharing of ideas, and its interesting people. His favorite TV show as a kid was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, his most prized possession is his Fender Stratocaster, and his best karaoke song is “Walk on the Wild Side” by Lou Reed. His photography can be seen at www.tonyshumski.com or the Tony Shumski Photography Facebook Page.
A member of the MPEX team since October 2011, Kelsey (inventory manager/loss prevention) has been taking photos for twelve years. Her obsession with photography started with two packs of majestic disposable cameras. Now she uses photography mostly to catalog her own life. Little day-to-day stuff inspires her. She shoots Nikon and favors a good, reliable prime lens. She loves being a part of Midwest Photo Exchange and knowing that she’s working for a locally owned and operated company that cares about its customers. Recently, a customer knew she was sick and brought her some cold medicine. That kind of relationship with customers is invaluable. Her advice to new photographers is to ask questions and to make your own choices about what you want to shoot. Take photography as seriously as it needs to be taken, but don’t forget to have fun. Her hobbies other than photography are simply “internet,” and her favorite TV show is “The Simpsons.” Her karaoke song-of-choice is Judas Priest’s “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’,” and she has a very intense love/hate relationship with coffee. Her ideal (some would say “imaginary”) vacation spot is a large Midwestern city with the exact details and geography of Chicago, where everything is free. You can find Kelsey’s photography at http://www.flickr.com/photos/soakthesaddle/.
Andrew (operations manager), an MPEX staff member since 2011, has been taking photos off and on for a decade. An artist (drawing and painting), Andrew started taking photos to use as reference for his drawings. When he isn’t receiving shipments for MPEX, Andrew enjoys making art and mountain biking. His favorite thing about Columbus is the cheap rent and the cheap beer, perfect for singing “The Piano Has Been Drinking” by Tom Waits, his go-to karaoke song. Favorite TV shows as a kid: MacGyver and Batman: The Animated Series. Scariest movie: Jacob’s Ladder. Best concert experience: Gogol Bordello.
Dipti (web/graphic design) has been working at MPEX since 2009. While more of a web guru than a photographer, Dipti has been taking family photos since she was 9. Her favorite thing about working at MPEX is her funny and intelligent team of coworkers (aw, shucks!). Her advice for new photographers is to come into the store, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our email blasts, where we can answer any questions you might have about your gear. She loves graphic design and mango lassi, and her ideal vacation spot is India.
Michelle (marketing manager) began working at Midwest Photo Exchange in September 2013 and loves its local, family atmosphere. While she’s just getting started with her first DSLR, she looks forward to learning more about photography by taking classes at the MPEX Learning Studio. She loves to travel (to Ireland and Italy, specifically) and her cats, Carter and Ireland. Her best concert experience was Weezer and Ash at the Newport in 1997, and she’s practically addicted to coffee. Her favorite things about Columbus are the great restaurants and festivals that happen year-round, and the scariest movies she’s ever seen is Stephen King’s IT.
Megan (marketing intern) started in March 2014. She’s been taking photos seriously for about three years after her a professional photographer friend gave Megan her first DSLR. Her favorite photographer is Jeremy Cowart, creator of Help-Portrait, for his humanitarian work and his incredibly well thought-out images. Megan loves photographing people and telling a story through her images. Her advice to new photographers is to shoot every day. When she’s not writing our blog posts and photographing, she enjoys going to concerts, being outdoors, and watching sports. Her favorite things about Columbus are the concert venues and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, and her most cherished non-photo possession is her guitar.
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