VANDALIA – By any measure, Justin Spivey is living the American Dream.
Spivey, owner of J. Spivey Photography on National Road, has been in business in Vandalia since 2011. The road to being his own boss and owning a business was a winding one, however.
Spivey graduated from Bethel High School and had an interest in pursuing hand-drawn or movie art as a career. That apple didn’t fall far from the tree, as Justin’s mother, Linda, is a highly respected artist in her own right.
After graduating from the Ohio Institute of Photography and Technology (now Kaplan College), Spivey took a job with a local school photographer who later became LifeTouch. That’s where he got his first taste of digital photography and the technology explosion that would take over the industry.
“I was there when the transition from film to digital occurred, and it was difficult,” said Spivey. “We had a $20,000 digital camera, one of the first truly portable digital cameras, and you had to have special permission from the owner to take it out of the box.”
After taking school photographs for several years, Spivey said he became burnt out and walked away from doing photography all together.
Burnt out, walked away from doing photography all together. He dabbled in construction and was hired by the Transportation Security Administration at Dayton International Airport in 2004.
“I knew right away that wasn’t for me, but I ended up staying until fall 2012,” he said.
Spivey bought first digital camera that year and began clicking away. In 2006 he shot 12-13 weddings working out of home and increased to 15-16 the next year.
In 2012 he left the TSA to focus full time on his photography business, but not without some trepidation.
“It was the scariest decision I’ve ever made to sign lease of this building,” he said. I was so excited, but making the commitment to the cost of it was terrifying. It was shooting from the hip in a way. I’m not a business man, I’m just a photographer and I’m doing the best I can to make a living at it.”
Spivey says that weddings and high school senior photos are among his favorite subjects, but says shooting seniors are the most rewarding.
“Every one of them is so unique,” said Spivey. “They are burnt out on school, but excited to be going on to something else. To see them in that phase is just a fun, fun thing. Their photos are so different using a wide range of their interests. There is an energy that comes with it and the creative freedom is really cool.”
Spivey says that opening in Vandalia was a decision he does not regret.
I’m so pleased and so thrilled to be in Vandalia, and that’s not a cheesy plug,” said Spivey. “Everyone here feels like friends and neighbors. It’s a great community.”
Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.