I recently had the pleasure of chatting with our Certified Photographer Tim Patno, of Lancaster, MA. Tim takes inspiration and knowledge gained from his grandfather, Charlie Apollonio: a photographer and retired Polaroid Corporation Manager. (Mr. Apollonio generously shared his story with us, please read below.) When not behind the lens, Tim works as a Registered Nurse First Assist (RNFA) at a local community hospital. Working with his wife Beth and their three children (including one newborn,) the Patno family provides imaging solutions to “Elevate Your Perspective.” Tim offers great advice for any entrepreneur, and for those in the real estate imaging industry in particular.
TD: Tim, you have an interesting and varied background. You have been a helicopter pilot, an IT Project Manager, and you are a United States Combat Medic Veteran (Thank you for your Service.) Even now, you work as a registered nurse at a local community hospital. How does all of this fit in with being a photographer?
TP: That is a great question! Photography, if you think about it, is a culmination of all our senses. We have sight, touch, taste, smell, and hearing. When we look at a photo, we are instantly taken back to the moment in time the photo was taken. You can remember what the air smelled like, what you were looking at, the taste of the saltwater, the sound of waves crashing in the background, and the feeling of the sand beneath your feet. This is true of any form of photography. Whether flying in the air, sitting around a conference room table, soldiers singing cadences while marching, or the sound of patient monitors chiming in the background. All of these moments in my life thus far, have been captured through a lens. Real Estate Photography, for me, is no different.
TD: Your menu of services is very comprehensive. How long have floor plans been on your list of services, and what feedback have you had from your clients? Do you feel that floor plans have been an important element for you in growing your business?
TP: I’ll be honest, I did not offer floor plans from the beginning; it is something which was added much later in my service portfolio – big mistake. I was turning down potential clients because I did not offer floor plans; I am a self taught Real Estate Photographer Entrepreneur. The saying “you don’t know what you don’t know” was never more true. However, listening to my clients, asking questions, and leaning on professional photography forums made the inclusion of high quality floor plans an immediate success! CubiCasa was the name I kept reading about, and from the moment you use it, to the end deliverables you can see why. Approximately 50% of my photo shoots today include floor plans, and that number continues to grow.
TD: Do you have any great resources or words of wisdom to share with other photographers?
TP: Embrace fear. Be memorable – in a positive light. You have to make an impact through the lens of your camera; the question is how? If you can deliver an emotional response, tapping into those senses mentioned earlier, then you have just effectively done your job as a Real Estate Photographer.
TD: Are you working on any personal projects right now that you would like to share?
TP: If you are not working to improve your skills as a photographer, you have effectively stopped learning; stagnation is the death of creativity. Our website: www.timothymphoto.com was built over the course of many late evening hours at home, and we are proud of the foundation we have created. However, we are excited to bring in a team of seasoned Graphic Designer consultants in the very near future, to truly showcase our business and portfolio to prospective clients. Incorporating not only our Real Estate Photography, but also some of our personal interests as well.
TD: If photographers would like to connect, where can we find you to reach out or follow you?
TP: Networking and relationship building is the basis of all things real estate; from Realtors to Mortgage Brokers, and of course Real Estate Photographers. We have a growing family of followers on our Instagram: timothy.michael.photography, our Facebook page: wwwtimothymphotocom, of course as mentioned earlier our website: www.timothymphoto.com, and there is always our email address at: email@example.com
TD: What books are on your nightstand right now?
TP: I have really taken a liking to audiobooks! Currently, Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey is my go to; I highly recommend it; my wife and I would love to meet him someday.
TD: Last question. Since you have the spotlight, what is the one most important thing you would like to share with our photographers?
TP: I’ve always been a visual and hands on learner; I’m sure like so many photographers! Having said that, however, there is ONE book that I read which has always stuck with me; from when I worked as an IT Project Manager. A book titled: Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard. The approach to customer service was so simple, but made a lasting impression. A simple three step process to which I will only summarize (as to not give away the full idea). First, decide what YOU see as a good customer service business model. Second, ask your clients what THEY see as a good customer service business model; what would make them happy and continue to do business with you. Finally, blend your ideas with your customers ideas, and here it comes, EXCEED those expectations and ideas by 1%…
Recalling a Career with Polaroid, Charlie Apollonio Remembers
TD: Your Grandfather was involved with Polaroid. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
TP: My grandfather began work at Polaroid in August of 1965. He started in the positive sheet coating area that produced the photo paper for instant film for all Polaroid instant film products.
Mr. Apollonio, picks up the story, “One year later, I moved onto film assembly machines that manufactured Polaroid roll film products. I worked on the film assembly machines until 1971. Later, I was accepted into the Polaroid technical training program. The course in Polaroid was very comprehensive to include the science behind photography, use of professional cameras to include all the varied mathematics involved with it.
My career with Polaroid continued through 2008, with responsibilities ranging from film assembly and manufacturing, becoming a mechanical specialist in the pack film operations, serving as an employee advocate and a trades and engineering team leader. I supported the manufacture of the Large Format operation in X-Ray and 8 X 10 instant formats, as well as the artistic 20 x 24 super large format cameras, of which there were only 3 that I am aware of. I supervised the repairs and modifications of these amazing cameras. My team installed the red bellows on one camera at John Reuter’s request.
In 2002 I took part in a joint Polaroid/Kodak project to manufacture Kodak’s 4×5 film in Waltham, MA. My team was approached because they had the ability to do it on automatic assembly machines at high speed whereas they (Kodak) could only do it manually. Their reason was to compete with Fuji Film. My responsibility was to design and put into operation an ultraviolet drying silk screen printing system to run in concert with the assembly machine as it produced the Kodak film. The printing was for their graphics and it was perfect.
In 1999 I took over maintenance support for Polaroid’s 4×5 film manufacturing. Polaroid’s SX70 integral products continued domestically and in Enschede, Holland until around 2005. Operations ceased after that.
Polaroid went to chapter 11 twice. By 2008, they had stopped Kodak production, and we were headed into another chapter 11 and end of life. I stayed on with only a small contingency of support people to essentially decommission the company.
Today the Polaroid name lives on, but it is not the Polaroid we all knew. Certainly not Dr. Land’s Polaroid of yesteryear. They do produce the integral product in Holland, as the management and engineers there bought the rights to the product and were able to continue manufacturing it. The project was initially known as The Impossible Project. They have succeeded : Polaroid Instant Cameras and Film – Polaroid US.”
I hope that these conversations are as inspiring to you as they were to me – Tim with his positive outlook and willingness to share his experience and contribute to our community, and Mr. Apollonio for reminding us that the work we are doing today, along with the vision to create something new, are what will inspire us and move us forward. Thank you both for sharing your stories. Cheers!
Photographs and video by Michael Blanchard, courtesy of Charlie Apollonio.