A series of on-going Interviews
by Mike Langford, GM HF NZIPP, GM F AIPP
This column is dedicated to those who are the building blocks of the NZIPP and who are a part of its history. Through understanding what happened in the institute before many of us were born, is to have a greater understanding of the value it offers us today.
Marg & Peter Straw
In 1975 Peter and Marg Straw were looking to extend their very small dabble in photography to a full-blown photography studio in the city. Opportunity came by way of a business advertised for sale, called ‘Beverley Studios’, situated on High Street where there were several other studios nearby.
On 1 November 1975, they took over a small but longstanding business. Members of the professional photographers Association very quickly made contact and offered support, (Joining the membership and taking part in the events that were available, set them in good stead).
The studio focused on weddings and portraits and teamwork. All the work was processed in their dark room, including the very early colour work which was processed in a dip and dunk colour system. This carried on for two years, during which time they were introduced to ‘Chrometech’ and Ivan McClelland, who eventually took over all of their processing and printing for them. Chrometeck offered even more opportunities for education, which helped to push the business to be even more successful and profitable.
In 1981, they open the second studio in Merivale Mall, but running two businesses took its toll and in 1985 both studios combined again in the central city in an upstairs mall situation.
Their style of work was changing and the influence of overseas speakers became obvious. Focus was on portraits more than weddings, as weddings were becoming costly and expensive to do and the profit margins were dropping.
Where family portraiture is today, is due mostly to the promotion and information taught by overseas speakers back then, as family portrait was an awesome market just waiting to happen.
In 1991, their lease for the central city studio expired and with a demolition clause being actioned, the studio moved to the corner of Manchester and St Asaph street and re-opened on 1 April 1991. This was a fabulous studio location with a great layout added with the convenience of living in a gorgeous upstairs New York style apartment, meant the studio stayed there for the next twenty years.
The Christchurch earthquakes on 4th September 2010 closed the studio. It was repaired and reopened on the 3rd Nov. Once again, with the Boxing Day quake in 2011, meant access was for staff only and by the 22nd of February 2011 they had lost their business, plant, equipment, personal belongings and home.
Due to the damage around them, with buildings leaning on the lightly damaged studio building, the decision was made to demolish it, enabling the Council to reopen the one-way traffic system.
Peter and Marg spent till 1 August 2011 looking for a new location and a new direction for Beverley Studios.
They discovered an awesome location 20 minutes out of Christchurch and five minutes from Rangiora and moved in on the 4thSeptember 2011.
The business now focused totally on family portraits. The offshoots that came from doing those, meant that whole process was suitable for just the two of them.
They love living in the country, and their clients love going to the new studio and outdoor locations. By adapting their processes to meet the current market conditions, they are heading towards a comfortable and settled retirement sometime in the future. They now also find time to coach other photographers in aspects of running a modern studio: – From planning through to promotion, to marketing, sales, the use of equipment and creating portraits clients will love to buy.
Occasionally this happens in small groups but mostly it’s one on one over a five-day period in house, where accommodation is also provided.
Both Marg & Peter have been involved in the NZIPP for over 40+ years: –
Marg has served in many rolls in the Institute, including regional chair for the Canterbury region, portrait and wedding chair, as well as education chair while a member of the national board, followed by vice president and then finally President of the Institute from 2002 to 2004. Marg was also the instigator for what we know as the Trans-Tasman Award between the AIPP and the NZIPP
Peter was also the Canterbury regional chair and treasurer for a time and with a colleague, developed the first computer system for print judging which was used for many years.
Their wish for NZIPP members is that “they are aware of the highs and lows that exist in business and to remind them that education is never finished”.
If we were all as active and supportive as these two have been in the NZIPP over the past 40+ years, then think of the rewards we would all reap.
Thank you, Marg & Peter, for everything you have given us all.