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McKinney / Sherman Portrait Photographers   |    (903) 227-3792 / 3793    |      PO Box 32, Trenton,TX 75490

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Spotlight on Van Alstyne – David Hamrick Photography

July 23, 2019

Truth is, most people probably pass by our studio numerous times a day and don’t even realize we’re there!  While we have a gorgeous 3000sq ft studio on the second floor of our building, we only have a door as a storefront, nestled in between a dance studio.  When you open our door, the very first thing everyone sees is stairs, 24 ¼ stairs to be exact!  We don’t usually tell people about the stairs, because we figure they’d never come see us!  But once they reach the top of the stairs, they can see it was worth the trek.  Our studio is located in the downtown area of Van Alstyne, in a beautiful brick building that is well over 120 years old.  It used to be the Carter Opera House and we’re told that traveling operas would stop in to perform on their way from Oklahoma City to Dallas.  There are at least 19 floor to ceiling windows, so we get this beautiful natural light that filters through.  The inside is all exposed brick and wood floors, it’s literally bursting with character!  But let’s back up a bit and tell you how we got here…






What made you choose photography and how did you get started?

David:  I caught the photography bug from my dad.  My mom gave me my first SLR as a high school graduation present. I’ve been shooting ever since!  For many years it was landscapes and airplanes.  I joined the Air Force after high school and was on the flight line with the planes.  Lot’s of F-16 pictures.  I also photographed the first launch of the Space Shuttle.  When I was stationed in DC my kids started playing T-Ball and softball.  Before I knew it, I was taking team pictures for the rest of the parents.  A guy I was stationed with was a wedding photographer and talked me into buying my first set of strobes.  Thanks for the nudge Darris Curry!  I spent my last nine years of Air Force life on Special Duty Assignment to the White House Communications Agency and retired in 1995.  Tammy and I met while working for Fujitsu in Richardson, and married in January 2000.  We have lived in Trenton the entire time.

Tammy:  I have to admit, I didn’t grow up planning to be a photographer or in the photography business, but just like every other person I’ve taken my share of pictures and like to capture those special moments.  I’ve always had the creative bug.  Growing up, I often handmade Christmas and birthday gifts instead of buying them.  I liked being able to create things that would have meaning to them.  When David and I met and married, I knew that photography brought him a lot of joy, and having his own photography business was something he dreamed of, so it was something I wanted to be a part of. 

In 2002 we got our official Tax Certificate and made things legal.  We started out photographing different sports activities and High School Seniors on the weekends.  That little bit of business helped us survive three different layoffs we experienced between 2002 and 2007.

David:  Then in 2013, I was working as the Purchasing / Operations Manager for a company in Bonham when we were contacted by the yearbook advisor at Bells High School.  They needed a new photographer and wanted to know if we could do it.  Don’t ask me why we agreed to that, cause I don’t really know, but we did.  A whirlwind of buying tux jackets, and fancy caps and gowns, and we were off!  First stop: Bells Elementary. The mission: 400 or so PreK through 5th graders.  Mug shots for yearbook. Ready to shoot by 8:00 am.  Oh, BTW, lunch starts at 10:45….  and GO!  It was miserable!  We THOUGHT we were prepared….  It’s a wonder they let us come back into that school.  Next day, the junior high and high school. Better.  The final day, senior tux/drape and cap & gown. OMG, another train wreck.  Three half days of vacation and we got it all done.  We learned A LOT in those three days.  For some reason, we decided we could be school photographers, and I quit the job in Bonham.  The photographer who had been photographing several of the local schools, offered us an opportunity to take over the Seniors and sports teams in Trenton. Cool. Then, during the Christmas break that photographer told us that he was quitting everything, effective immediately, and if we wanted to strike while the iron was hot, we should hit whichever schools we wanted the day they came back from break.  We did just that, and ended up finishing that school year with Bells, Trenton, Celeste, Wolfe City and Ector schools, and several sports associations.  We photographed schools for five years and continued to expand our High School Senior photography on the side.

Volume photography, such as schools and sports associations, is great, but there isn’t much chanc