LINDSBORG — Jim Turner sold his gallery at 129 N. Main St. in Lindsborg, but it has no plans to end the legacy of Lindsborg photography that began in the late 1800s.
Born and raised in Lindsborg, Turner grew up with the campus of Bethany College first as his playground and then as his classroom.
"The Vietnam War took me out of Lindsborg and put me into the U.S. Navy," Turner said.
Turner learned photography in the Navy and was stationed in Washington, D.C. and on board several ships.
"What I learned in photography school was the basics of photography — how to handle a camera, how to interpret light and develop film and compose, it was all pretty basic," Turner said. "As my career in the Navy went on, I learned other things as well just through doing things, just by working at it."
After meeting his wife, Jan, on a trip home to Lindsborg, Turner decided to move back to his birthplace.
"When I got out of the Navy, I had no intention of being a photographer. I spent a couple of years going back to college, didn't even take a photograph," Turner said.
In 1972, Turner and a friend bought a photography studio from Dale Hogue — a business started by B.G. Grindal, a Swedish immigrant invited to America by Bethany College founder Carl Swensson.
"He realized the need, photographically, to document Lindsborg and the college," Turner said.
Grindal ran the studio for nearly 50 years and then sold it to a man named Nelson, who only had it for a couple of years, Turner explained.
"Dale Hogue had it for 25 years and I ran the business for 46. Theoretically, I'm still running the business; I’m just doing it out of my home,” Turner said.
Though the gallery was sold and Turner has retired from doing wedding photography, he still has plenty on his calendar. He teaches film photography courses at Bethany College and McPherson College, takes school pictures for USD 400 and travels to locations to take portraits for businesses.
“I can do almost the same quality as what I used to do in the studio; I travel light and make it quick,” Turner said.
Turner has taken countless senior portraits and has shot more than 1,000 weddings over the course of his career.
“There was one period, one year, that I did at least one wedding every weekend for six months,” Turner recalled.
In his early years of doing wedding photography, grooms wore blue or maroon tuxedos of crushed velvet and the ceremony often included a rendition of “The Wedding Song.”
“Everyone was doing it like no one had ever heard it before and they were going to be unique,” Turner laughed.
Taking pictures of college presidents and other dignitaries made Turner nervous at first.
“I was always brought up to respect people older than me and people in positions of importance, but as things went on, I realized that I was actually in control of the situation,” Turner said. “You kind of feel out the personality of the person in the situation. Some people you can joke with, some people you can tell dirty jokes to, some people you can’t.”
Being in Lindsborg gave Turner the chance to meet celebrities including Beverly Sills, James Lovell, Mikhail Gorbachev and Samuel Ramey. He traveled with National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson to places in Scotland, Ireland, England, Nova Scotia and around Kansas.
Turner also worked with Sir Richard Branson and Steve Fossett, the pilot who flew the Global Flyer solo nonstop around the world. Turner’s photographs of that endeavor were made into a book.
From teaching foreign exchange students at Bethany College, Turner has made friends from countries such as Russia, Armenia and Spain.
When a student from Azerbaijan asked him to come and do a photography workshop in her country, Turner was initially hesitant, but agreed to go.
“They were all just so great and I loved every minute of it,” Turner said.
Four months after the workshop, Turner was asked to return for “American Days” at the U.S. embassy in Azerbaijan to show students’ photos.
“Personally and professionally, it created such a strong bond between me and another country and the people in that country,” Turner said.
While Turner says he accepted nearly every gig that fit in his schedule, there was one request he firmly declined.
“I got a phone call from Salina one day and they were doing a porno movie up there and they wanted me to shoot the stills of it,” Turner said. “I said no — I wasn’t interested in that stuff.”
When he used film, Turner would develop his own black and white photos and send those that were in color to a lab in Beloit. Now, he is able to decide for himself what edits and adjustments need to be made by using digital photography.
“Digital has been a real game changer in lots of ways,” Turner said.
Instead of shooting dozens of photos at an event, Turner now takes hundreds. While shooting digitally saves him time in the darkroom, he says he spends just as much time, if not more, on his pictures.
“You still have to get in the computer, process it, edit it and put it up online,” Turner said.
The photography industry is becoming more competitive, but Turner said there is still room for those dedicated to the art.
“You’re going to have to be unique, you’re going to have to be good, you’re going to have to be able to understand how to run the business as far as marketing goes, and you may have to incorporate being a photographer with something else,” Turner said.
Turner noted he is still available for photography services.
“I’m still here,” Turner said. “I was shooting last evening and I’m shooting tonight and I’m teaching class this afternoon, so I really haven’t retired, and it wasn’t my intention to retire. I’d go crazy.”
For more information about Turner Photography, visit http://jimturner.zenfolio.com.
Contact Patricia Middleton by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her stories on Twitter at @MacSentinel.