Chris Robins opened her photography studio 40 years ago Oct. 1 and has loved her job every day since.
When she graduated high school she was deciding between teaching and photography, following her passion for the arts she went into photography at Southwestern Community College and graduated from their Media Department after two years.
When she began her business she worked solely with film, interning at the Osceola Sentinel Tribune under Jean and Stack Samuelson using a dark room to develop film and laying out photos for the newspaper by hand. In 1981 Robins opened her studio.
“I love working with people, I’m a people person,” said Robins. “That’s probably why I chose to go with photography because I like being around the people.”
Her first studio was in the old Snowdon’s building until it burnt down in 2003 and she moved her studio up to the north side of the square.
“I’ve only ever been in two spots in Osceola, Iowa. Can you believe that?” said Robins.
Robins has had photos published in Sports Illustrated, a meat magazine after she followed a meat salesman, she shot Simon Estes’ wedding. She’s done weddings in northern Iowa and out in Colorado but never a destination wedding.
“One of the biggest changes with photography has been the change from film to digital,” said Robins. “With film I could put it in an envelope and send it off and it would be gone for the night and I’d be done. Everybody says that digital is so much easier but it takes more time because I’m the one now that does all the work with them. I do all the retouching whereas with film what you got you got. So I’d say it’s probably a little more work.”
Robins doesn’t call her work a job because she loves what she does so much. She shoots weddings, seniors, families, pets with no real favorite among them. She most enjoys sharing and capturing happy memories for people.
“I’m a pretty natural type photographer. I want you natural, I’m not going to doll you up and shoot you how you don’t look,” said Robins.
Robins is an advocate for professional photographers and supporting those business owners. Paying a professional photographer means that customers get professionalism and someone with the knowledge of how to pose people in groups, lighting and the camera knowledge along with editing.
“A lot of people will put the tall people in the back and the short people in the front. Well there’s a lot of difference in the heads from the short people to the tall people,” said Robins. “What I do is put the tall people down and then the short people so there’s not quite the distance.”
The hardest part of Robins 40 year career was when the building that her first studio was in burnt down. She was in her studio that day and heard sirens getting closer, a lady was running up and down the building and let Robins know she should get out but she thought the building was so large that the fire wouldn’t reach her end of it. A while later she found out multiple other fire departments had been called in and she new it was time to get out. She began to throw things out of the studio and three different farms picked up her things and brought them up to the square for her. 12 other people were able to come help her move things out.
“That’s probably the toughest thing I’ve endured in my 40 years in business,” said Robins. “I just moved and got back on my feet and went again.”
Robins sees photography as an art. Her late father Gary Robins was a popular local painter and Robins feels that she got her artistic ability from him.
“My satisfaction with photography comes from knowing that I have made somebody’s memories come alive in those moments,” said Robins. “I haven’t been in a lot of sad situations with photography, not that I haven’t done some sad things because I have, but most of my things are happy and their memories that are going to be kept alive that way.”