Amy and Kevin Mears, owners of Mears Photography, are entering their 35th year in business. (Photo: Provided by Amy Mears)
CHILLICOTHE – In September of 1985, Chillicothe natives Amy and Kevin Mears purchased their first photography studio on West Main Street. But over time, as their studio space grew in size, so did their business.
At just 22 years old, Kevin began working on several photography projects. In the 1980s, he made the decision to open his own studio with his now-wife, Amy. The work space was small, maxing out at 950 square feet. Nearly 10 years later, in 1993, the couple bought their current studio located on East Water Street. And for the past 35 years, the Mears family has been providing professional photography to individuals, families and couples in Chillicothe.
“We’ve documented the past 35 years of people’s lives,” said Kevin. “We’re on our third or fourth generation for some families.”
“I think the thing that we’re most proud of is that we’re still in business and the personal relationships we’ve made,” Amy added. “To be here 35 years later is our best accomplishment.”
Opening a studio was always a dream for Kevin. He earned a degree in photography with a specialization in portraiture and commercial work. Amy’s background is in business management with a focus on sales and marketing. Both have a masters degree in photography.
Mears Photography works with clients looking to have images produced from their wedding or special event, senior portraits, family photos or outdoor photography. Kevin says that in his time as a photographer, it’s clear there have been changes in style and technology, but the technical skills remain the same.
As technology improves and cameras become more accessible through devices like smartphones, anyone can take a picture. But Kevin believes the difference lies with how creative someone is.
“Photography is all about light and it’s more than just clicking a button,” he said. “The camera can’t be creative, it just sees gray. We give people what they can’t create on their own.”
Now that younger generations grow up in a digital age, there has been a change in mindset over pictures and images, according to the Mears. Rather than ordering prints or having a physical photo, many people opt to share their images on social media or store them on their phones. A key part of the Mears’ success has been their ability to adapt to the latest improvements in technology, not stay complacent.
Working in a small town also provides plenty of opportunities for the Mears to find a variety of work. The couple not only works with individuals but other businesses to shoot products or other images. This allows Kevin to practice the more challenging, technical skills of photography while retaining his ability to be creative with portraits.
To stay sharp, the couple also maintains membership with several photography organizations and compete in regional, national and international competitions. Kevin believes that competing allows him to compare himself and the work he’s doing to others. Most recently, Kevin was awarded first place for two photos by the Professional Photographers of Ohio in its semi-annual competition.
“We love this area and we love the community,” Amy said. “When you love what you do, it’s not really work.”
Mears Photography is a full-service studio experience, open four days a week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Appointments should be scheduled in advance. To learn more, visit http://mearsphotography.com/.
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