Dan Doke discovered his passion for photography as a teenager, eventually turning his beloved hobby into a career after purchasing his first studio in his 20s. After building a thriving business with portrait and senior-photo portfolios, Doke moved his studio closer to his family and began to focus on wedding photography full time. Today, the seasoned shutterbug dangerously overloads his mantelpiece with a wealth of awards and honors, ranging from a membership in the Society of XXV to his status as a Photographic Craftsman from the Professional Photographers of America. Doke’s polished black-and-white and color prints have graced the covers of more than 30 magazines, including Gala, La Bella Bride, and Studio Photography, and his expertise won him a spot in 2005 as a photographer at an inaugural ball for President George W. Bush, where he was responsible for capturing candid portraits of heads of state, governors, lawmakers, and dignitaries. Along with the team of photographers he has personally trained, Dan produces high-contrast, post portraits of families and pets that range from traditional outdoor and studio shots to high-concept editorials.
After devoting years to protecting precious pictures and keepsakes from environmental harm, the Middlesex Framing crew has amassed an inventory of highly protective materials. Acid-free matting keeps photographs and certificates from deteriorating over time, UV-protection glass guards against sunlight’s discoloring rays, and museum glass deters bandits who somehow made it across the living room’s laser alarm grid. Partnering with Larson-Juhl, the crew is able to access more than 1,500 molding samples and matting combinations—ensuring that each piece is both protected and enhanced by its border.
Lightshed Photography Studio’s three heads—Daniel St. John, Kendra Hack, and Robert Reynolds—are not just photographers, but well-rounded visual artists. St. John began his career with pencil sketches, whereas Hack spent years sculpting, and Reynolds wielded a paintbrush well into college. The trio’s medium-spanning backgrounds shine through in their shots of weddings, families, and high-school seniors, which pop with bright colors or elegant black-and-white contrasts edited in after the shoot.
The photographers divide their portrait shoots into two parts, seguing smoothly from traditional poses to more experimental shots as subject-selected tunes thump in the background. Beforehand, subjects hash out their shoot’s details in a consultation which covers specifics from proper dress and prop options to which Madam Tussauds' figurine will pose as their spouse. Afterward, subjects spend a viewing session perusing the best 40 or so proofs from the hundreds of shots snapped in their session, enjoying complimentary coffee or wine in the process.
Experienced framers Barry Stahl and Bob Clayton built Big Picture Framing from scratch in 2000, holding meetings around an old card table as construction roared around them. Today, framers at 15 area locations craft custom frames to display artwork, photographs, and record sleeves, and shadow boxes protect three-dimensional items such as ballet slippers, macaroni art, or a swarm of wasps. Patrons can dictate all design choices, choosing from metal and wooden frames in a multitude of colors and styles, or ask for recommendations from one of Big Picture Framing's resident experts. Big Picture Framing also stocks pre-framed art, prints, and posters to spruce up bare-walled homes or a drab doghouse.
Renaissance Framing Gallery revivifies worn art and frames using careful, artisanal restoration techniques. Employ skilled framesmiths to enshrine a memory-encrusted jersey ($250) or diploma ($115), or have them carefully restore an 8"x10" oil painting ($150) or the gold-leaf frame surrounding it ($85 per hour including materials). Before and after photos show how restoration services make the Dark Ages skies brighter, Victorian skin alabastier, and dramatic gilds more dramatically gilt.
At Natural Exposures Photography, founder and professional photographer Gaye Hilsenrath relies on natural lighting in outdoor settings to document milestones with clarity and realism. Most photo projects begin with face-to-face consultations, during which clients can voice their desires for the shoot. After the on-location photo session, the staff helps immortalize subjects' special moments by putting together leather-bound photo albums, custom framing images, and chiseling families' faces into Mount Rushmore.