Even in the digital age, Summerill Photography finds a place for quality photos

Summerill Photo owner Jody Tanori coaxes a smile out of a subject. - Charlie Bermant/Staff Photo
Summerill Photo owner Jody Tanori coaxes a smile out of a subject.
— image credit: Charlie Bermant/Staff Photo

Photo shop to donate a share of its profits to create smiles.

Anyone can buy an inexpensive digital camera, then point, shoot and send a passable picture to their relatives through e-mail.

But a long-time Port Orchard visual entrepreneur feels that photography is still an art, and that permanent memories are still more meaningful the old-fashioned way.

“A lot of people have very nice digital cameras,” said Jody Tanori, who owns Summerill Photography in Port Orchard. “But most of them use the automatic mode, and don’t get the quality, color depth or background that you get from a professional portrait photographer.”

This is something you may expect from someone who makes a living selling pictures printed on paper. If everyone went digital, Tanori would go out of business.

But this won’t happen anytime soon, as long as people still want to hold a wedding album in their hands in order to remember the event, or treasure a high-quality print to set on the mantlepiece.

Tanori began working for Dave and Pete Summerill in 1983, shortly after graduating high school.

She spent five years outside of Port Orchard, but returned to her job and bought the business in 1995.

Since then, she has built the business, located in a yellow house with a white picket fence on Bethel Road, to a popular choice for local people who want to commemorate an occasion and buy local at the same time.

Throughout, Tanori attempts to give back to the community and often offers holiday specials. She also attempts to reach outside Port Orchard’s borders — for each portrait session before Nov. 15, she will make a donation to the Smile Foundation.

Here, the contribution will pay for operations to correct facial deformities suffered by children in Third World countries.

“This is important work,” Tanori said of the foundation. “For $100, you can change someone’s entire life.”

Tanori doesn’t hate digital technology, since she uses digital cameras and computers in the production of pictures.

The Internet has also shortened developing time and made it easier for customers to view and select proofs.

“It gives us a lot more flexibility,” she said. “People can look at pictures online and pick out the ones they want without needing to come into the studio. We also can finish an order in a few days, when it used to take weeks.”

But while modern professional photographers use digital processes, there are some aspects — like quality prints — that need to be done as before.

“A lot of people print out their pictures with inkjet printers,” she said. “Those images don’t last. And people who convert their photo collections to a compact disc aren’t aware that a CD can degenerate in seven years, even if you keep it protected.” 

Tanori said the best storage medium is an external hard drive, which does not deteriorate. Even so, most digital pictures are never even printed.

And the only way to preserve a portrait is to print it on quality paper and protect it in a frame.

“People keep their old snapshots for years,” she said. “For many of us, the only way that we connect with our ancestors is with a family portrait.”

Accordingly, the best connection to the future is to take a quality picture today, and preserve it for coming generations.

“The biggest reward I get is when someone sees their portrait and starts crying,” she said. “Once I took a picture of a young girl, she looked at it and said ‘I didn’t realize that I was so beautiful.’”

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