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Photography business has grown with clients

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Rick Milton has watched some of his clients grow up before his eyes – and camera lens.

Rick Milton, who opened his Washington Road studio 27 years ago, says the industry has changed, mostly because of digital photography and computers.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Rick Milton, who opened his Washington Road studio 27 years ago, says the industry has changed, mostly because of digital photography and computers.

“There’s nothing cooler than to photograph the wedding of somebody that you photographed when they were a child in preschool or elementary school,” Milton said. “The kids are my favorite. I love the little guys. They all call me Mr. Rick.”

The owner of Rick Milton Pho­tography at 3830 Wash­ing­ton Road opened his studio 27 years ago. The studio’s busiest time of year is June through Christmas.

“There’s not a lot of downtime for us. We’re diversified enough that when one thing is slow, we’re working on something else,” Milton said.

Milton works alongside his wife, Pam, who serves as office manager, and his daughter, Shelby, who has worked part time since high school. He also has a bookkeeper and another photographer on staff.

“The best thing I ever did as far as learning to run a business is learning to delegate it to my wife,” Milton said. “She has a good business head on her shoulders. She runs the day-to-day business of the studio. That’s so important. It’s an art form, but it’s truly a business. Unfortunately, that’s one of the reasons that a lot of people don’t make it.”

Milton started his career at a studio in At­lanta after graduating from the Art Institute of Atlanta. The studio often sent Milton to Augusta two or three times a week to photograph clients, but he didn’t mind because he had attended high school in Augusta.

“Finally, I just talked them into letting me move over here and work this part of the business from here, instead of having to drive from Atlanta,” Milton said.

A few years later, he purchased the Au­gusta portion of the business from his employer. He worked from home for a while, allowing him to afford the necessary equipment, then opened a studio in Evans.

The industry has changed, mostly because of digital photography and computers. One of the major changes has been in wedding photography. Six years ago, Milton photographed more than 50 weddings a year. Now, it’s only 10 a year, and people rarely ask for bridal portraits.

However, brides are starting to realize that it takes a professional to capture the precious moments of their wedding day, Milton said.

“The wedding business is beginning to pick back up, but it will never be where it was,” he said.

Despite all of the changes, Milton said there’s nothing else that he’d rather do.

“It’s changed so much, but I love it. It has truly been a blast,” Milton said.

RICK MILTON

Owner of Rick Milton Photography

BORN: July 28, 1956, in Black­shear, Ga., attended high school in Augusta

EDUCATION: Art Institute of Atlanta, associate’s degree in photography

FAMILY: wife, Pam; and children, Shelby and Alex

CIVIC/EXTRACURRICULAR: Freedom Bible Church, elder

HOBBIES: hunting, fishing

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Darby
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Darby 03/12/13 - 06:51 pm
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I too was in the business for...

almost twenty years. After retiring from the Army it suddenly hit me that I had one kid in college and another to start five years later.

No way was military retirement going to pay for that, even with what I had saved in their college funds. That was reinforced when my oldest went straight through college, his master's program and his doctorate without a break to catch "my" breath.

Like Rick, I did weddings at first and a lot of them. Soon discovered that I could raise prices, do fewer weddings and make just as much money.

Still, it was a cutthroat business with just about everyone and his brother (and sister) offering to photograph their friend's wedding for free as their gift.

I did enjoy it, although toward the end, I found I could do better for myself by switching to commercial and legal photography.

Like Rick says, it was a blast. Still, when my last kid graduated college, I closed down the business and began to really enjoy my retirement.

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