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mpp logos 120What says local better than pictures of Tompkins County taken by artists who live here?  That's the idea behind, a local stock photographyt company that markets images by largely local photographers to advertising agencies, graphic artists, businesses, visitors bureaus, web designers, and individuals.  

"I have invited a group of photographic artists to contribute their work," says Managing Partner Monroe Payne.  "Their purpose is to put their work out where the public can view it, and to give the public an opportunity to purchase it.  For the most part they are pieces of art, and almost all of it is from Central New York, probably within 100 miles of Ithaca."

The site offers photographs from over 60 artists.  While some hale from as far away as Hawaii, Payne says that most are from Tompkins County.  That makes it a local business that caters, for the most part, to local businesses and tourists.

"They put an image of Ithaca falls, for example, on their Web site and it says 'I'm an Ithaca business.'  Or a picture of Myers Park: 'I'm a Lansing business.  I'm here.  I'm part of the community.  I'm not going to disappear tomorrow.'  So it gives them a sense of longevity and community,"  Payne says

Payne himself is an accomplished photographer.  Monroe Payne Photography is part of IthacaStock, the piece that is his own photography business.  He focuses on commercial work and portraiture.  The former may be photographing events or providing photos for workshops.  He goes for high quality and speed: Payne says he can provide up to 150 copies of an image of up to 200 people the next day with prints that are sharp and clearly show every face.

mpp cassyPhoto by Monroe Payne

The other piece is portraits, which include families, and individuals, including elders.  He says his favorite subjects are mothers and babies.

"I'm a very emotional person," he says.  "I love the feeling of a mother and a baby, especially a brand newborn.  The emotion is palpable.  We start with the mother and baby, and then we bring in the dad, and if there are other siblings we'll bring them in, too.  We get a lovely selection of these beautiful, emotion-packed images."

He also enjoys photographing seniors... and seniors.  That includes both graduation pictures for students and portraits of elderly clients.  He is currently working with Longview to photograph residents, and an exhibit of those portraits will be shown there.

"Elders in our world are a very much underutilized, under-appreciated, underserved group of people," he says.  "They have earned every wrinkle, and they've got attitude.  I love that attitude."

Payne is also photographing special needs children, a particular love of his.  His certification by the Special Kids Photographers of America is currently pending.  He is able to offer a personal touch that few photographers can provide.

"Having raised two special needs children myself I have an affinity for this particular type of subject," Payne says.  "Many parents of special needs kids are reluctant to take them to a photographer because they're not sure how they're going to be greeted.  These parents  adore their children, but at the same time they are very protective because their children are a little bit different.  I know where they're coming from.  I know the life that they've lived.  So I have the patience to take care of them and take beautiful, sensitive photos that they will be able to treasure."

In his spare time he volunteers for 'Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep', a group of professional photographers who donate time to photograph families who have suffered a still birth.

mpp paynePhoto by Monroe Payne

Payne's father Douglass Payne worked as a photographer for the Natural Resources Department at Cornell University, providing photographic resources for research professors and for 'how-to' manuals published by Cornell Cooperative Extension.   Payne spent time with his father in the darkroom, learning about photography despite himself.

"What I learned from him was attention to detail," he says.  "He was very meticulous about the way he worked.  I cannot say he taught me anything formally, but there was a deal of osmosis involved.  I saw how he did it and made it work."

Payne had 73 photographs published in his high school year book, and looking back he says there was not a bad one in the bunch.  But, being a typical rebellious teenager he didn't want to follow in his father's footsteps.

He studied recreation education at Cortland State and held a series of jobs.  When Douglass decided to retire in 1996 he offered Payne his darkroom equipment.

"I hadn't even been in a darkroom in 20 years," Payne says.  "I went in and the chemical smell hit, and it brought it all back.  Within a couple of weeks I bought a good camera.  Within a month I did my first wedding, and I've never looked back."

That started what would eventually become his career.  He worked in photography  in Cornell's ILR school, and as an electronics test technician, at MacDonald's, a livestock custodian.  He was half owner of Ohm Electronics for many years.  In 2004 he finally became a full time photographer.

mpp monroeMonroe Payne

IthacaStock and Monroe Payne Photography are one business with the two facets -- bringing photographic art to the public, and creating it.  He also creates virtual tours of commercial and residential real estate.  They represent facets of Payne as well, allowing him to do things that he is passionate about.

"Our stock is continuing to grow wonderfully," he says.  "I am looking at that being my retirement income.  I'm doing the portraiture and commercial accounts because I love it.  I love dealing with people.  All of photography is emotion.  I was told once that if you have every been absolutely, totally, desperately, irretrievably in love you have what it takes to be a photographer.  I qualify that way."


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