When Barry Koenig comes to work, he never knows what will happen next. He prefers it that way.
There's no such thing as a typical day at his photography studio, he said. He loves his job because every day is different.
The owner of Barry Koenig Photography started the business, now located at 1411 Monte Sano Ave., 17 years ago.
On any given day, he might take photographs for school portraits, weddings, senior pictures, baby pictures or individual/ group portraits for people of all ages.
"It keeps things interesting. The most interesting thing is all the people that I've gotten to meet. All the happy occasions that we get to see. Meeting new people every day," Koenig said.
To make children and babies feel more comfortable, he entertains them and kneels to "get on their level."
"Crawling around on the floor and taking pictures of babies is the best," he said.
He has also had some interesting assignments. Once, a family hired him to take a picture of their deceased loved one.
"They didn't have any pictures of her, so we had to take pictures of her laying in the casket," Koenig said.
Koenig is also a photographer at the Augusta National Golf Club, where he has been able to take pictures of celebrities and golfers.
"That has just been one of the greatest experiences that anybody could really ask for," he said.
Koenig runs the studio with two employees. The business is doing well, but he doesn't plan to open a second location.
"When people come to my business, they expect me to take the pictures," he said.
Jim Price, now a close friend and golfing buddy, hired Koenig years ago to take pictures at Episcopal Day School when he was headmaster.
"He has a really great sense of humor. He's a very caring person," Price said. "He takes his business very seriously. Photographers need a sense of what makes human beings tick. I think that Barry has that gift. I've seen him photograph many different kinds of people. His ability to connect with those people is what makes him very successful."
Price is co-chairman of Youth Leadership Richmond County, and Koenig volunteers to take photos of the group free of charge. Koenig also donates his time with Aquinas High School and throughout the community, he said.
Studio manager Kelli Strickland has worked at Barry Koenig Photography since 2002. She enjoys working at the studio because of its family atmosphere, she said.
"Because it's a small business, we have the same customers that frequent. It feels kind of like a family business in that way. We'll have people that we'll do their senior pictures, then cotillion pictures, then wedding pictures and then first baby. It's a nice way to see your customer grow with you," Strickland said. "It's an awesome thing to see how his interaction with the customer makes people keep coming back."
Koenig grew up in Powell, Ohio, a town near Columbus, with his three older brothers. His father, Frank Koenig, was a lawyer. His mother was a legal secretary.
He has fond memories of camping trips with his father and brothers. Koenig was introduced to photography as a child because it was one of his father's pastimes.
"I played with the camera because he had the hobby," Koenig said.
Years later, Koenig joined the high school yearbook staff as a photographer, taking portraits and sports photos.
After high school, he took a year off and got a job selling tires. He soon realized that he didn't want to sell tires for the rest of his life, so he enrolled in a photography class at Columbus Technical Institute.
He decided to pursue photography as a career, so he enrolled in the Ohio Institute of Photography in Dayton. When he graduated, he accepted a job at Artog in Columbus, where he specialized in architectural photography.
Four years later, he took a position at another studio, where he began taking portraits. He later moved to Cleveland to become a studio manager and then accepted a job in Oklahoma a few years later.
In Oklahoma, Koenig stumbled upon his destiny. He was at an art museum in Tulsa, Okla., and he ran into an Augusta man named Frank Christian. They started talking and learned they had a common interest in photography. Christian was in town to photograph the PGA Golf Tournament.
"He offered me to come take over his business," Koenig said.
Christian had a photography studio in Augusta. He gave Koenig his business card, and the young photographer came to visit Augusta for a long weekend to consider the opportunity.
"I was pretty excited about it. Then, I packed everything up and came to Augusta," he said.
Koenig started Barry Koenig Photography on Central Avenue in 1993. It was a huge transition from being a studio manager to owning a business, he said.
"Frank luckily had a good reputation in town. The reputation really helped me to establish a business. All the pieces fell into the right place, and we just kind of moved forward," he said.
Koenig built the business through hard work, one client at a time. He wanted to focus on portraits, and the previous owner had some portrait business, but not much.
"I've just been very lucky to meet the right people and also give a quality product to people. It really has worked out well for us," he said.
Koenig has an accountant to assist him with the financial side of the business.
"The only drawback in business is all the paperwork that you have to do. Of course, the taxes that you have to pay. The things that people don't understand about business," he said.
Six years ago, Koenig moved his business to Surrey Center. He moved to Monte Sano Avenue in April.
Koenig has accomplished a lot, but he still has a few items on his bucket list.
"The one thing that I really want to do, I want to travel to Alaska. Also, to do some traveling overseas with my wife ," he said.
He met his wife, Denise, in Augusta through a mutual friend, and they were engaged three months later. They've been married for 12 years. He said that his wife is his "best friend."
For now, Koenig is simply enjoying watching his sons grow up.
"I've really been blessed. Doing all the things that I get to do, it's just been a serious blessing in my life," Koenig said.