Fine Art Photography and Environmental Family Portraits
We are Professional Photographers who specialize in outdoor environmental portraits of families on location and artistic landscapes such as wilderness, beaches and parks.
We also photograph local weddings, call us for more information. We are located in the heart of Harbor Country including New Buffalo, Union Pier, Three Oaks, Lakeside, Warren Dunes and other nearby locations.
Our Studio is located at: 9139 California Road Bridgman, MI 49106
Our Tool Box
Canon 5D Mk II Digital Camera
Canon 30D Digital Camera
Canon A2E Film Camera
Canon 17-35 L mm Lens
Canon 18-55 mm Lens
Canon 28-105 mm Lens
Canon 50 mm Lens
Canon 70-200 L mm Lens
Canon 540 EZ Speedlite
Canon 580 EX Speedlite
Nikon N90S Film Camera
Nikon 28-105 mm Lens
Nikon 50 mm Lens
Tameron 28-200 mm Lens
Sigma 100-300 mm Lens
Dyna-Light Portable Lighting
Westcott Portable Backgrounds
Dell Laptop Computers
Dell Desktop Computers
We are members of
Twin City Camera Club
St. Joeseph, MI.
Kalamazoo Institute of Art
Neighboring businesses create 'Photographers' Row' in Three Oaks
By Ray Gudas, News Associate Editor. Published: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 2:57 PM EDT
It's not unusual for car dealerships, banks and fast-food restaurants to cluster together, so why not photo studios?
When Rich Covert, of Covert Family Photography,
leased a small (10-foot-wide) storefront at 13-A North Elm Street in Three Oaks last February next door to another little (12-foot-wide) storefront at 13 North Elm Street that was already occupied by Johnny Borter and Tina Wagner of Borter Wagner Photography, he inadvertently created Three Oaks' first "photographers' row."
At the time,
Covert wasn't personally acquainted with his new neighbors, although, as a fellow shutterbug living and working in the same community, he had certainly heard of them. Feeling a little nervous about how they might react to another photographer taking the space next door, he went over and introduced himself.
"We became instant friends," he recalls now with a smile.
Business is business, of course, but as Covert summed it up
"We're diverse enough that we really don't have a conflict being next to each other. I do fine art photography with a focus on landscapes. Johnny and Tina are primarily wedding photographers."
Normally a talkative sort, Borter was able to make the distinction in a mere four words
"He's gallery, we're assignment."
A lifelong photo buff,
Covert, who was born in Southwest Michigan, grew up in Lakeside and Southern California and now lives in Union Pier, said he "got started" in photography when he was in kindergarten.
His class was preparing to stage an Easter pageant that featured Irving Berlin's classic "Easter Parade" song,
whose lyrics refer to a lady wearing an Easter bonnet and to "the photographers (who) will snap us." To help visualize the song, the teacher assigned some of the girls to wear bonnets. Then she asked for someone to be the photographer.
"For some reason, I raised my hand and said, 'I'll do it!'" Covert recounted.
In grade school, photography became, as he phrased it, "a big hobby" for him.
"I got the bug," he said. "Big time."
His mother enjoyed photography as a hobby too, Covert revealed, speculating that maybe some of her natural talent rubbed off on him.
His dad's contribution to his love of the art form, he said, was routinely taking the family for a drive to the beach after dinner to watch the sun set.
"He gave me a sense of location," he said.
A lifelong amateur photographer,
Covert didn't become a professional until 2005, when he and his wife, also a photographer, opened at a studio together in the community of El Segundo.
"We did weddings, portraits, families - the whole bit," Covert said.
The business did alright, but, unfortunately, the marriage didn't.
Three years ago, after going through a divorce, he decided to return to Michigan. Specifically, Harbor Country. And that's where he ran into Rhonda and Bret Sobecki of Skip's Restaurant.
They were just starting their open-air market,
and they encouraged me to get a booth there to sell my landscape photography, Covert said. "I'm glad they did - It's been very successful for me. This will be my fourth year over there.
When he's not scouting the landscape looking for his next image,
Covert also does a lot of pro bono work, especially for animal welfare groups such as Animal Lovers Inc. and the Michiana Humane Society. You may have seen him photographing pets and their owners at "Pet-Palooza" in New Buffalo last year. Since 2010, he's been doing the pets-with-Santa photos at Animal Lovers Inc.'s early-December open house at St. John's United Church. He's also on the board of directors of the New Buffalo Fine Arts Council.
If you don't want to wait until the farmer's market resumes operations to see samples of Covert's photography,
ou'll find thousands of his images as well as a sizable selection by his nephew, Jake Zboril on the business's web site: www.CovertFamily.com
When his Three Oaks studio and workshop,
currently being remodeled, opens later this month, you'll be able to see a limited selection of his photographs on display there as well, along with works by other photographers. Initially, the studio will be open from noon to 9 p.m. Thursday through Sunday; as soon as possible, however, it will be staffed seven days a week, Covert said.
For more information, phone Covert Family Photography at 877-469-1460.
Johnny Borter and Tina Wagner have operated their successful photography business out of Harbor Country
first in New Buffalo, more recently in Three Oaks - for about eight years now.
Although they do take on other kinds of photo assignments,
they specialize in weddings, which comprise an estimated 80 percent of their business, and which they are amazingly good at capturing visually, and then packaging in an eye-catching, extravagantly designed way that goes well beyond the traditional wedding albums of yesteryear.
You bet it's not cheap.
While you can hire one of their hand-picked proteges to do the job for as little as $800, the full treatment with three photographers, two assistants and all the bells and whistles can cost $8,000 or more.
Illinois, where Borter grew up, is fertile ground for many of their assignments, but recent jobs have also taken them farther afield
to Florida, Jamaica, California, Arizona, Colorado and elsewhere.
The two met professionally in 2001,
when Wagner, who studied photography at Chicago's Columbia College, took a job as Borter's photo assistant. At the time, he was a member of the board of directors of the American Society of Media Photographers.
"We worked very well together," Borter said, "and eventually a romance blossomed."
Maybe it was the marked difference in their backgrounds that made them such a good team.
A student of former Chicago Sun-Times photographer John C. White, a Pultizer Prize-winner, Wagner, who grew up in the area (her mom's from Galien, her dad's from Buchanan) describes her photography as having a strong "documentary style."
Borter makes no secret of the fact that his own alma mater is "the school of hard knocks",
but he's also had the incredible good fortune of working for and being tutored by some very accomplished photographers that may not be household names among the general public but are highly regarded by their peers.
People like photojournalist and fine-art photographer Stephen Wilkes,
whom Borter considers "one of the finest American photographers"; entertainment and portrtait photographer Clay Patrick McBride; Glenn Dreesen, a past president of the Association of Professional Photographers of Illinois, who Borter credits with teaching him everything he knows about lighting and about high-end wedding photography; and others.
"Assisting brought me great mentors," Borter said.
It's also what brought Borter and Wagner together,
and eventually led to their developing what the couple refer to as their "cinematic style" of wedding photography.
You're out to tell a story,
you're controlling and crafting an image," Borter explained, "but like any good film director, you have to be open to the improvised moment. It's about craft and style, but it's also about allowing the scene to rule.
And about what you do after you have the image.
"Johnny has a special talent for retouching and remastering images,"
Wagner said. "For a lot of photographers, it's mainly about capturing an image and sending it to the printer. For him, it's more about producing the image the way he wants it to be. The camera is just the first step."
During a typical wedding shoot,
the couple will produce somewhere between 2,500 to 3,500 images, which they will cull to end up with somewhere between 900 and 1,200 images.
"Each one gets our eye," Wagner said.
To view samples of the couple's wedding and engagement photos,
as well as a selection of their pet, children and fashion portraits, visit their web site at www.borterwagner.com
To contact Borter Wagner Photography by phone, dial 866-880-2009.
As different as the two neighboring photography studios may be,
their owners have already begun discussing ways in which they might be able to cooperate for their mutual benefit.
For example, Borter and Wagner have some top-of-the-line fine art software and hardware that Covert might find useful from time to time.
And Covert is installing a "spray booth" in his studio that will allow him to print his landscapes on stretched canvas an ability that Borter and Wagner might want to make use of in the future.
Beyond that, Covert will occasionally be displaying some of Borter's and Wagner's creative photography in the gallery portion of his studio,
and the three have also talked about joining forces for sidewalk sales and other promotions over the coming months.
Complete Family Portraits and Fine Art Photography By Rich Covert and Jake Zboril.
We are Professional Photographers who specialize in outdoor environmental portraits of families on location and artistic landscapes such as wilderness, beaches and parks. We also photograph local weddings, call us for more information. We are located in the heart of Harbor Country including New Buffalo, Union Pier, Three Oaks, Lakeside, Warren Dunes and other nearby locations.