Feldman's Photography
A head and shoulder potrait of a beautiful lady

Feldman's Photography Selected
The Best Portrait Studio
by The Tampa Tribune

Tribune correspondent
Published: August 18, 2010

BRANDON - The tree swing, stone bridge, wishing well, Old West buildings and red mailbox alongside the driveway of Feldman's Photography give the first impression that this is not a typical portrait studio.

Inside the office, that hunch is supported by more props, costumes and a wall that has been created to resemble an Italian stone archway.
"High school seniors especially like to use our props to custom design their photo shoots," said Alan Feldman, who co-owns the business with his artist wife, Melanie. The experience may take several hours.

"Alan makes everyone comfortable and has a great rapport with kids," Melanie said. "They have so much fun when they're here."
"I have a ball with them," Alan said. "I let them be themselves. They bring their pets, boyfriends, horses, guitars - last week someone brought their $150,000 dragster. I photograph several hundred seniors every year."

It all started when Feldman was 10. He received a camera for his birthday and became the family historian.

He studied business and management in college. After graduating he moved to Brandon in 1971 to work for General Telephone Co. of Florida.
Photographing his best friend's wedding got his picture-taking abilities noticed, and soon he was in demand.

He met Melanie, a portrait painter, and photography shoots were their dates, she said. They married in 1989 and have five grown children.
The Feldmans perform three services at their studio: portraiture, copy restoration and film transfer.
Feldman shoots the portraits. Melanie artistically retouches photos, taking off a little weight, clearing up acne, removing warts. She does the copy restoration and film and audio cassette transfer.

"In this bad economy, we're busier than ever," she said. "We have name recognition since thousands of homes display portraits with our name on them. We have a lot of repeat customers, and much of our competition has gone out of business."

Children whose pictures they took 30 years ago now are bringing their own children to them to be photographed.
"We have quite a nice following, and it feels like a big family," Melanie said. "One former Brandon-area woman flew from North Carolina recently to get mom and child photos.
"People who come to us are looking for art, something memorable."

Sometimes customers call the Best of Brandon-winning business with questions about their own digital cameras and troubles. Answering their questions builds rapport, they said.
Sometimes people bring them memory cards or flash drives, and the Feldmans recapture deleted or lost images for them.
Law enforcement personnel also come to the studio to find out what's been erased from cameras, phones and flash drives, Melanie said.

Private investigators hire the couple to format video surveillance tapes for use in court.

"We like our work. It's never boring," Melanie said.

The Feldmans have taught classes twice for the Associated Press and twice at the World Congress of Professional Photographers. They taught with the late Pulitzer Prize-winner Eddie Adams.

They're always learning, too, from computer-based tutorials, other professional photographer friends and as members of the Professional Photographers of America.
At conventions they've been known to approach a photographer saying, "I love what you do. Can I help you and learn from you?"
That way "you learn from the best," Alan said. "We, too, help kids just starting out and talk with them, as a way of passing it on."

WHO: Feldman's Photography
WHERE: 12000 N. Nebraska Avenue, Tampa FL 33612
WHAT: Portraits, restoration and slide/video transfer to DVD
HOURS: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday
PHONE: (813) 685-4343
WEB: www.feldmansphotography.com
Contact Tribune correspondent Barbara Routen at neighbors@tampabay.rr.com.

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