Greensboro, NC - School Photographers of America (SPOA) inducted the inaugural class of the Industry Hall of Fame, featuring some of the most legendary pioneers of the century-old school photography and yearbook industry, at the Industry Awards Banquet during SPOA’s International Conference on School Photography and Yearbooks at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Greenville, SC.
“On behalf of the SPOA Hall of Fame Selection Committee, SPOA Governing Board, Executive Board and entire SPOA community, we recognize these founding leaders and innovators for their contributions to the school photography and yearbook industry,” said David Crandall, executive director, SPOA. “Considering the wealth of possible worthwhile individuals eligible for the Hall of Fame, it was a monumental task to narrow it down to the inaugural class. This first class needed to be the individuals who truly created the industry forming some of the first school photography and yearbooks of our nation.”
Crandall noted many of the companies represented by these inductees are still doing business.
Individuals making up the inaugural class of SPOA Hall of Fame inductees were:
• S.P. Barksdale - Barksdale Portrait Photography. In the early 1920s, Barksdale was employed by the Wilson Magazine Co. as a photographer/salesperson. He started out in Pennsylvania with the new concept of taking photographs of students for record-keeping and also giving parents the option to purchase the photographs. Early success resulted in Barksdale starting his own company in 1922, and locating his business in Eastern PA. Today, Barksdale Portrait Photography currently services schools in many states across the United States.
• J.E. Strawbridge - Strawbridge Studios Inc. After working with Barksdale Portrait Photography for a year, Strawbridge formed Strawbridge Studios, Inc. in 1923, where he focused on taking classroom pictures and fall portraits in schools across the Southeast. In fact, Strawbridge is celebrating their 100-year anniversary this week in Durham, NC. Strawbridge currently has locations in more than 25 states across the United States.
• Guy Snyder - Inter-State Studio & Publishing Co. Snyder founded Inter-State Studio & Publishing, Co. in 1933. After learning the ins and outs of the business while employed by Julius Stern’s Hollywood Studio in the late 1920s and early 1930s, he ran the business from his home in Sedalia, Missouri. Inter-State Studio, headquartered in Sedalia, Missouri for over 90 years, currently has offices located in more than 30 states and is North America's largest family-owned school photography company.
• Eldon Rothgeb - National School Studios. Eldon Rothgeb, a traveling salesman, along with a business partner, R. Bruce Reinecker, had worked for a school photography company in Kansas City Missouri in the early 1930’s. In 1936, they raised $500 to open their own company called National School Studios. That company grew substantially over the years and was later named Lifetouch National School Studios Inc.
• R. Bruce Reinecker - National School Studios. R. Bruce Reinecker, a traveling salesman, who later became a master in production, had worked for a school photography company in Kansas City, Mo., with Eldon Rothgeb. In 1936, they raised $500 to open their own company called National School Studios. That company was later named Lifetouch National School Studios Inc and grew substantially over the years.
• Olan Mills Sr. - Olan Mills Studios. Olan Mills, Sr., a former real estate salesman, and his wife, Mary, launched their business in Selma, Alabama, in 1932. Working out of an old woodshed converted into a darkroom, they started out in the photo restoration business. By 1935, the Mills had settled on a look that would become forever associated with the photographs produced by Olan Mills Studios and portraits from this period: a black-and-white bust vignette set against an airbrushed background. A hand-signed logo on each picture helped to build the Olan Mills brand name.
• Don Walsworth - Walsworth Publishing Co. More than 85 years ago during the Great Depression, Don Walsworth started his company in the centrally located railroad hub of Marceline, Mo. In 1947, the company began producing yearbooks. Now in its third generation of family ownership, they have grown to be one of the largest printing companies in the United States.
Founded in 2020, School Photographers of America has taken over the space in a series of school portrait trade associations dating back over 70 years. The American Association of School Photographers Inc. (AASP) was incorporated on May 26, 1953, after three years of conducting unofficial business with the purpose of developing respect for the profession, affecting efficient operational processes, developing marketing strategies, regulating cooperation and exchange of ideas, and “encouraging members to exhibit ideals and qualities of leadership commensurate with the great responsibility which the profession owes to the educators, youth and parents of America.” American Association of School Photographers, Inc. amended the Charter of Incorporation to become Professional School Photographers of America, Inc. on April 27, 1977. PSPA transferred its ownership to Photo Marketing Association in 1984 and was later called Professional School Photographers Association International. In 2014, this association dissolved. Today, SPOA has taken the torch and continues the mission to preserve, protect, promote, educate, and advocate for the school photography and yearbook industry.
School Photographers of America (SPOA) serves as the national trade association for school photography and yearbooks. The association, which is led by David Crandall, executive director, and a volunteer board of industry leaders, has been growing rapidly in membership and advocacy activities. In addition, the association started The American Foundation of School Pictures and Yearbooks to serve displaced and students in need, grants for school pictures and yearbooks, starting in Fall, 2023. To learn more about SPOA, visit:
Website - www.schoolphotographersofamerica.com