By KEVIN CHIRI
Slidell news bureau
SLIDELL – Paul Wood is one of those guys caught up in the changing technological times, at least when it comes to his business.
Paul and Julie Wood are co-owners and operators of Paul Wood Photography in Slidell. One walk through their studio at 1518 Lindberg Drive, glancing at the many professional photographs on the wall, tells you they are no amateurs at what they do.
But that is the challenge many full-time, professional photographers have today, in a world when everyone has a phone to take pictures, and “point-and-shoot” cameras can be bought for such little money.
Paul is a professional photographer who has honed his craft for most of his life, actually starting with his first camera at the age of 12.
Now at 53 years of age he can draw from a wealth of experience that allowed him and Julie to buy the former O’Connell Photography Studio, and open Paul Wood Photography as a full-time business in 2010.
His mission, he said, is to communicate a message to the public about the real difference in quality when photographs or portraits are created by a professional photographer.
“When we do a photograph, or a family sitting, we make it a great experience that will tell a story with the photographs, and leave them with great memories,” he said.
“We want ‘that day’ to be memorable,” Julie added.
The challenge for the couple is to remind the public that if they want a special photograph to hang on their wall, or keep in their photo album, then a real professional will make a world of difference.
“In this day someone will get a camera for Christmas and immediately think they are a professional photographer,” Paul said with a laugh. “Then friends come to them for important pictures and think they are going to get something of top quality. There is a lot of disappointment when it doesn’t turn out that way.”
Regardless how much people use cell phones to take pictures today, the family photograph, dance team pictures, or senior portraits, are still the things that are seen on display in homes or businesses. Paul said that he and Julie know how to make that special.
“We have the training and equipment for any event and any situation,” he said. “And most of all, we have the experience to make it a special picture.”
Julie said there was a recent situation where a family contacted them to photograph their group that included a father who had cancer and would not be around much longer.
“We spent a lot of time taking different pictures and I still didn’t think we had the shot that they really wanted,” Paul said. “I tried different props, then finally found these old glasses I had—the dad put them on and had fun with them and we got some incredible pictures.
“That’s the difference—we keep working at it until we get the shot,” he added.
The business specializes in family portraits, high school portraits, dance team pictures, holiday pictures, prom shots, baby pictures and also does something that few studios try—“we call them pin-up pictures,” Julie said. “It’s usually a woman who wants some very special shots for her husband or boyfriend.”
Paul is originally from Texas and joined the Navy at the age of 18, putting in 20 years before retiring in 2001. Finishing his military career in New Orleans he settled in Southeast Louisiana and worked for the state for several years before going full-time into the photography business.
Julie is from Connecticut and landed in Slidell when her father transferred here. She earned an Accounting Degree from UNO in 2007 and worked many years at the Audubon Institute as an educator until Hurricane Katrina shut the place down and cost her the job.
The couple met while both working a weekend job at B. Dalton Bookstore, started dating and were married in 2000.
Living in Slidell they got involved in Slidell Little Theater, with Paul helping as a photographer. It opened the door to the eventual business of Paul Wood Photography.
“We started getting requests from people at SLT to shoot other things besides the plays,” he recalled. “Next thing you know I was doing weddings for friends and more.”
After Katrina a job came open for Julie with O’Connell Photography, then when they learned about Paul’s talent, he was asked to work as a “shooter.” The couple bought the business when Karen O’Connell retired in 2010.
“We’ve seen a huge shift in the market in the past six years with so many phone cameras and more,” Paul said. “But we still offer quality portraits, and a great experience taking the pictures. We just want people to understand what a difference it will make in the pictures you get when you hire a professional team like we have.”
For more information, call the studio at 985-649-3234 or view their work online at paulwoodphotography.net.