Walking into Heights Studio is like opening a door into the memories of generations of Central Texas families.
The walls are covered with photographs of moms, dads, dogs, graduates, brides, babies, and even motorcycles, taken by photographer Russell Cobb, owner of the studio.
Cobb, who opened Heights Studio with his wife Darlena in 1982, started his career as a traveling photographer.
“I had cancer while serving in the military, and when I got out, the doctor who operated on me, his son was a traveling photographer,” Cobb said. “So the doctor sent me to talk to him because he knew I would need a job. That’s how I got started taking baby pictures.”
One of those traveling jobs took Cobb to Prue, Ind., where he met his future bride. The two married two weeks after they met. Cobb traveled as a photographer for another 10 years before settling in Central Texas.
“My wife’s family lived in Gatesville, and we moved to be closer to them when her mom got sick.” Cobb said.
Over the years, Cobb said he noticed a change in the way people feel about photographs.
“With so many people taking their own digital pictures, they have an ‘it’s good enough’ mentality about their pictures,” Cobb said.
“Past generations have boxes of photographs to hand down to their children and grandchildren, whereas the (current) generation takes a lot of pictures but doesn’t keep them.”
Cobb, however, believes digital photography has had a positive impact on the business.
“I had to go back to my roots as a photographer, when I went completely digital two years ago,” he said. “Photo labs had gotten so good at fixing photos that photographers could under or over shoot a picture and the lab would fix it. Now, we don’t have that luxury.”
Cobb, with the help of his wife, shoots photos at local school events, especially proms. They take pride in creating the back drops to match the prom themes every year.
“The coordinator will usually let us know the theme three to four months in advance, so we can start working on the backdrop,” Cobb said.
Covering school events has been a financial help to Cobb’s business, which has seen a decline in portrait sales.
“With the current generation, we don’t have as many portrait clients, but we stay busy with the schools,” Cobb said. “My first prom was in 1982, and we do all the schools around here.”
Cobb said one of the most rewarding parts of his job is photographing students with special needs.
“I just try to relate to them like I do with all the kids, I don’t treat them any different and they appreciate the respect so when it’s time for the picture, the real person inside shines through.”