By Joel Hall
Several years ago, Larry McDonald, an electrician by trade with a passion for photography, got the idea tourists seeking to connect with the Margaret Mitchell novel "Gone With the Wind" would enjoy dressing up in period-accurate costumes and taking pictures. McDonald and his wife, Yvette, acquired a variety of antebellum outfits and opened the Vintage Photography and Portrait Studio on North Main Street.
While the studio specializes in wedding photos, family portraits, and other professional photography, people from near and far have come to Vintage Photography in order take home a personal memento of the Old South.
"There were a lot of people from different countries and different parts of America ... people from England, France, Japan, China," said Yvette McDonald. "Helping them find the right outfit was always fun. A lot of men would come in here convinced that they weren't going to try on the outfit and would end up doing it anyway. Eventually, when they were dressed in some kind of outfit, they would loosen up a bit."
Saturday, the classic costumes will no longer be a feature of Vintage Photography, as the studio will shut down its North Main Street location, after three years, and move operations to the Internet.
Larry McDonald said the economy dictated the change, noting Main Street lacks the pedestrian traffic needed to sustain the studio, despite its location near the Road to Tara Museum.
"The reason why I came up with the idea is because the ... museum is right across the street," he said. "We thought it would go real well with the tourist trade, but traffic is not as good as we thought it would be."
Larry McDonald said the studio opened a coffee shop, as well as a gift shop inside the store, in order to attract more customers. A year ago, McDonald moved his electrical repair company, Triple L Electrical, Inc., into the same building. At the end of the month, however, the McDonalds will begin operating both businesses out of their home to save money.
While the studio will still offer most of its photography services, the McDonalds plan to sell off their antebellum wares. Larry McDonald said he knows of no other photography studios in the county that specialize in antebellum portraits.
"That's mainly why I chose [the location]," he said. "The nearest one that I know of is Six Flags [Over Georgia] or Stone Mountain. I don't think we could have picked a better location, but the traffic wouldn't come through."
While Yvette McDonald said she will miss interacting with foreign clientele, she is positive about the decision to operate the business from the Internet.
"We are going to have a very well-working Web site," she said. "We'll be meeting clients at locations to their liking and to our liking. It's a good product. We're looking forward to it and not having all the overhead."
On the net:
Vintage Photography and Portrait Studio: www.vintagephotographyga.com