Local photographer celebrates 40 years in business

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Dunlap Photography, located in Minerva, Ohio, is celebrating its 40th year of business in 2023. 

Dunlap Photography has been run by Terry and Lisa Dunlap since 1983 and continues to grow beyond their expectations. Running a business for 40 years takes hard work, dedication, and love, and the Dunlaps have just that. 

Dunlap Photography did not start with a business plan, but rather a favor to a friend. A friend of Lisa Dunlap, co-owner and co-founder of Dunlap Photography, had approached the couple and asked if they would photograph her wedding. The Dunlaps agreed to do the favor for their friend free of charge. 

“We had a friend who asked us to photograph their wedding,” Terry Dunlap, co-owner and co-founder of Dunlap Photography, said. “After we did that there were, as I recall, about six other people that saw her pictures that asked, ‘Will you take our wedding pictures?’ And we said sure, we could probably do that.”

Dunlap Photography seemed to soar after that first shoot in 1983. There was no grand marketing aspect put into place for this to happen. It was the love their friends, family, and community held for them that lifted the business off the ground, and still does today.

“People just keep calling us,” Dunlap said. “We depend on word of mouth, and that was how our business was built.”

Terry Dunlap’s experience with photography goes back a little farther than that 1983 wedding, as he started taking pictures for the yearbook in high school. His experience there influenced him to find work after school that could satisfy his need for photography, but only for a few short months. 

“I did work for the Minerva Leader,” Dunlap said. “I went to take sports pictures. I had to be the sports editor and write stories. I went in to be the photographer!”

After Dunlap’s time at the Minerva Leader, he worked as a machinist apprentice at Timken. About five years after Dunlap started working for Timken, he and his wife bought the building their business is currently in. That’s when they turned their part-time hobby into a full-time passion. 

“I think at the beginning we just were like this could be something we just do on the weekends,” Dunlap said. “Then we found out that every wedding was like 80 hours worth of somebody doing something between processing the film, and getting proofs ready for everybody, and everything else. So, it wasn’t just the weekends. It was more full time.”

The Dunlaps had a field of support behind them since day one, and gained much more as their business grew. These supporters included other photographers, who also acted as mentors to the two. 

Terry Dunlap recalls not attending college right out of high school, and the photographer friends he met along the way helped fill that knowledge gap. 

“We tried to surround ourselves with people that really knew what they were doing so that we could learn from them,” Dunlap said.

The Dunlaps worked in photography as the world changed from film to digital, and they have fond memories working with both. One of the biggest differences Terry Dunlap noted was the restriction film had on the number of photos that could be taken.

“Hopefully I can fit their session on that one roll of film, which is 10 exposures,” Terry Dunlap said. “We went digital in 2003.”

Terry Dunlap has received a Master of Photography Degree and a Photographic Craftsman Degree, Lisa Dunlap earned her Photographic Craftsman Degree, and a few more faces were added to the Dunlap family. But one thing that hasn’t changed is the passion the Dunlaps hold for photography.

“A lot of times people come in and they’re expecting it to be painful and awkward,” Terry Dunlap said. “You can really change a person’s day, week, year just by showing them that the world can see the, in a way that’s really awesome, because sometimes people don’t think that’s who they are.”

Terry has been awarded and feature in the following:

2020 Warren Mott’s Lifetime Achievement Award from the Professional Photographers Of Ohio, National Award from Professional Photographers Of America , Photography Industry Elite Mastermind Recipient, 1998 Professional Photographers Of Ohio President

Featured on: 

– SeniorInspire 

*Named as Rockstar photographer by SeniorInspire placing him in the top 20 photographers in the country  

– Inspiring Teens Magazine 

– Senior Year Magazine

Dunlap Photography can be contacted through their website www.dunlapphotography.com or at 330-868-6091.

Terry and Lisa Dunlap reside in Minerva. They have two adult children, Leslie and John, and with five grandchildren.