It would be hard to determine which region in the US has the best photographers, but you could make a strong case for the Washington DC Metro area. This was home base for Monte Zucker, arguably the most famous Wedding and Portrait photographer of all time.
I entered the industry in 1986 and first “met” Monte Zucker while attending my first trade show with my Dad Marvin Zucker, the founder of Capri Album. When photographers saw our last name was Zucker, their first question was: “are you related to Monte?” We could have had a sign at our booth announcing “Free Albums Forever” yet photographers were more interested in knowing if I was related to Monte. I would typically get 2-3 calls a night in my hotel room from photographers looking for Monte!
Monte was an innovative portrait artist, who’s style can be seen in 80% of the wedding albums made in the 70’s and 80’s. Monte drew the biggest crowds at speaking events, and was followed around trade shows like the Pied Piper. However, what really set him apart was his understanding of Marketing and how he raised the bar for what professional photographers can charge. This gets a lot less attention than his portraiture, but he was a master marketer and businessman.
A few weeks ago we hosted a Photographer’s Open House in Washington DC area and what struck me was just how many great photographers there are in this part of the country. Clay Blackmore and Len DePas are former partners of Monte’s and continue to be the 2 of the most influential photographers in the area. Although Monte’s reach went beyond his hometown, the local photographers have a level of quality that I haven’t seen anywhere else. It’s as if they know Monte is watching them even though it’s been 7 years since his passing.
Our Open House took place at Washington Talent, the premier event entertainment company in the area whose photography division is run by Jack & Monica Hartzman, who both trained with Monte as well. We invited an all-star list of vendors that included Pilot Imaging, Kodak Alaris, Canon and F8 Rentals. Washington Talent has a very unique business model, their core business since 1967 was booking bands for weddings and other social or corporate events. Over 50 years they added DJ’s, Video, Photography and the largest inventory of novelties in the area. Green screen photo stations and unique photo booths are a big part of their business and the Magic Mirror Photo Booth they had on display we the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.
In attendance were about 30 photographers who came to see our new Bon a Vie photo album and schmooze with other photographers. We love these small, intimate gatherings as we get a lot of one-on-one time and get to meet lots of great photographers.