A Maplewood wedding and portrait photographer has been honored along with some big Missouri names.
The editors of Ingram’s Magazine, a Kansas City business magazine, decided Robert George belonged in the company of Stan Kroenke, Scott Schnuck, Bill Bradley, William Danforth, Ozzie Smith, Maya Angelou, John Goodwin and astronaut Linda Godwin.
George, with his studio and gallery on Sutton Boulevard, was chosen as one of the 50 Missourians You Should Know.
He recently returned from the honors ceremony in Joplin, where he had expected to be the only artist in the group, which included Dan Hesse, the CEO of Sprint.
“I met a woman from a musical arts organization, a historian who is preserving the last remaining slave cabins in Missouri and the reigning impressionist of Harry S. Truman (the guy looks just like him),” he said. “It was an eclectic and fascinating group of individuals, all from Missouri.”
George, 52, started out in University City, then moved his studio to The Hill. He’s been working out of a location next to the Maplewood Chamber of Commerce for six years. It’s smaller than his studio in The Hill, but said with digital equipment he doesn’t need as much space as he used to.
His studio is filled with stylish portraits and photos of brides. A street scene of Paris, with the Arc de Triomphe off in the background, sits on an easel. It’s part of his ‘Poems of Paris’ series.
He’s been to almost all the European countries, Russia, Prague, Eastern Europe, Caribbean, North Africa, Morocco and every US state except Alaska.
George started out photographing for airlines and hotels. He said he didn’t get paid much, but it was fun.
“Since college, I’ve loved to travel, then when I started a family, here in St. Louis, I needed to stay closer to home, so I started doing more work for retail clients.”
His love of travel and photography goes hand-in-hand.
“When you walk into new places, new vistas, it inspires creativity,” he said. “When you travel and see things for the first time, there’s a charge, you’re inspired.”
He said even in a place like Paris, where the greatest photographers have worked, he can see something new.
“That’s why we travel, to eat different food, and hear different language and experience different customs, and for me as a photographer it’s to see different landscapes.”
George makes portraits and photographs brides and debutantes to keep the studio doors open. Behind the scenes he does what he calls his gallery work, which is really what he loves.
“Gallery work, a little magazine work, families who want to hire us – that work is primarily Midwestern but it comes from all over the country.”
He said the business has changed since photography has gone digital. For one thing, lots more people are doing it.
On the positive side, he uses software to scan old negatives and tweak them to improve his prints in ways that he couldn’t before.
“Photography has never been in better shape with the tools we have,” he said.
“I shot 3,000 pictures at a wedding a couple weeks ago, and they’re all uploaded online."
Though he travels extensively, George said he has never shot in his own neighborhood. He considered photographing in Maplewood.
“I would walk up to Manchester, and I would challenge myself to shoot, because I love urban sprawl, and especially when it’s quaint, which is what we have,” he said. “So how to capture that in some kind of panorama?
“You’re asked to look at your own village in a new way. We have this amazing old strip," he said. "Now, how do you get a vantage point on it? How do you capture that old time feeling?”
Stop by and say hi sometime. Maybe you'll see how he did it.