If a photo is worth a thousand words, a storied photographer could fill the Library of Alexandria with a multitude of memories. Documenting the lives of friends, the birth of babies and the bonds of love, the one behind the lens captures in an instant what will last a lifetime.
For Louis Tonsmeire, a hometown photographer of more than 30 years, he works pursuing a passion capturing fleeting moments in perpetuity. The daily work in his downtown studio revolves around the people he serves. Customers, family, friends and neighbors -- they're all met with a smile.
Among professionals, Tonsmeire stands in a class of honored photographers taking his seat this year as Chairman of the Board of the Professional Photographers of America after serving as the 2010 PPA President. From family portraits on Cartersville's Wall Street to mobs clambering for autographs in China, Tonsmeire spent a hectic year traveling the world and spreading his unique brand of humor with fellow professionals.
Happy to be back home, he racks his brain to conjure any future aspirations. It's clear he is content where he stands working with friends and capturing memories with each passing day.
Name: Louis Tonsmeire
Occupation/Title: Photographer, Owner: Tonsmeire Studio
City of Residence: Born in Birmingham, Ala., lived in Cartersville since 1965.
Education: Cartersville High School class of 1977, experience and trivia nights.
Family: Married to Jenny Williams Tonsmeire for seven years. Three children: Wendy, Robby and Sarah. Two grandchildren, Nicol and Will; and one Yankee son-in-law.
How did you get started in photography?
A: I figured out I could get into football games for free if I had a camera around my neck, so I got into photography. The first three football games I photographed, I didn't even have film in the camera but I could stand on the sidelines next to the cheerleaders and it was a pretty cool life.
Probably my greatest support came from Granny Marler who was then the Chipper advisor and she was really able to push me along in my photography and give me a lot of support in that area.
How long have you been in professional photography?
A: 30 plus years. Opened first studio in 1980. ... I have been in three different locations, all within a three or four block area.
What's your favorite part of what you do?
A: It's the people. It's being around people, I enjoy that and the interaction. Most times, I'm with people at their good times and that makes it that much better. Being around this long, I'm in second generation weddings now, watching people grow up and I'm into things I never ever expected or thought about doing years ago.
Can you describe your time as President of the Professional Photographers of America?
A: It was a very great honor. Who knew that I'd be there? But I was able to represent about 25,000 photographers worldwide and was able to travel extensively last year and got to travel to some great places. ... China, Japan, South Korea, France, Canada and New Jersey.
Photography is universal. The fraternity that we belong to from one photographer to another, there was no language barrier. It was all about being the image makers. That was the coolest part. It was also great to see some places I never thought I'd see in my lifetime from The Great Wall [of China] to Mt. Fuji.
If you were in another line of work other than photography, what would it be?
A: [Without hesitation] Professional gigolo [Pause for laughter] ... If I had to guess, I'd probably like to be a professional golfer.
What are some of your hobbies?
A: I like to go outdoors and hunt and fish. I enjoy golf and enjoy chasing grandchildren. ... And doing charity auctions, being a charity auctioneer is another one of the things I really enjoy doing for folks.
What is your favorite place to be in the world?
A: Honestly, there's two favorite places. If I'm not in my wife's arms, it's in a cold duck blind on a rainy, cold day.
Do you have a personal mantra, motto or quotation?
A: Smile as much as you possibly can, then hopefully others will too.