Last month, the photography community lost a legend with the passing of Eddie Fox, and I am compelled to share his story.

Eddie’s father started Fred Fox Studios in 1919 and Eddie started working there as a teenager in the 1930’s. He shot weddings (back then just 60 images!) and studio portraits with the huge cameras mounted on massive tripods. He grew up in an apartment above the studio and the only other job he ever held was playing piano in a department store window.

 

www.JolieImages.com – SFP

I met Eddie in 1986 at his Chicago studio on Fullerton Street, one of the 9 locations they operated. At the time they were shooting close to 2,000 weddings, and I was working at my family’s business, Capri Album. They were interested in offering a higher-end product and decided to give us a shot. This started a 30 year relationship with Eddie and his family.

 

www.JolieImages.com – SFP

Let me explain: his family consisted of his wife Esther who was his high school sweetheart, their 4 daughters and 1 son. His son-in-law Terry was his right hand for 40+ years and it seemed like many of his 5 children, their spouses and his 20 grand-children were also involved in various parts of the business.

I became friendly with his daughter Leslie who owned a photo lab in Chicago – she was assisted by her 6 beautiful daughters redefining what a “family business” really meant keeping alive the tradition that “family business” meant family business. Many of the girls worked for both the lab and the photography business.

When I started Zookbinders in Chicago in 1995, Eddie committed to “helping a new guy start his business”, and within a few years Zookbinders was making ~2,000 custom wedding albums each year for Fred Fox Studios. As I became integrated in the Chicagoland Pro Photography community, I soon realized that about half of our Chicago based clients had worked for Eddie at some point in their life. Fred Fox Studio was effectively the “academy for aspiring professional wedding photographers”. And EVERY one of those photographers had nothing but respect and kind words for Eddie and his family.

Eddie was a HUGE Chicago Cubs fan. Every year we’d meet in April and he’d ask: “Mark, is this our year? I’ve been waiting my whole life for it”. My typical response was: “well….. I don’t think so, but hopefully they’ll be competitive”.

fan

 

For his 80th birthday, I had a Cubs Uniform made with his name on the back – #80 – although he appreciated it, his response was: “this is very thoughtful, but I’d gladly trade it for a trip to the World Series”.

Eddie always had a story to tell (some were true, some were jokes), and in 30 years of knowing him had never seen him upset about anything. He took pride in the fact that he could still work well into his 80’s when most of his contemporaries had long retired. He was still the life of the party, entertaining his 35 great-grandchildren with his jokes and stories. Had he not been stricken with the horrific ALS disease, I’m sure he’d still be coordinating which photographers would be shooting which jobs this coming Saturday.

www.JolieImages.com – SFP

It was an honor to know Eddie, a man I deeply respected for his commitment to family, and his magical touch in building a Chicago institution. He was the face of the business for 70+ years and gave opportunities to literally thousands of photographers. He treated me like a family member and I always felt he was rooting for me as he rooted for the Cubs.

As I’ve been watching the Cubs galvanize the city of Chicago (and baseball fans everywhere), with their stellar play, their uncanny team chemistry, and the close family they’ve created… it feels like the baseball version of Fred Fox Studios.

Eddie: you would have enjoyed the rush this baseball season has provided in October. This season is dedicated to you and all of the other great Chicagoans that served their country, have been great role models their whole life, and who continue to inspire us. We know you were cheated out seeing the Cubs play in the World Series, but trust me, every game they win is for you. We will all miss you a ton Eddie.

Go Cubs Go!

Go Eddie Go!