‘Photography by Schwartz’ adds talented partner

by Sue Mroz of The Review staff

After 31 years as the sole photographer in his portrait-photography business, Dennis Schwartz, owner of Photography by Schwartz, at 307 E. Mill St., Plymouth, has brought on new talent to feature in Plymouth.

Andy McKee, 33, a Plymouth native, joined Schwartz and Schwartz’s wife Judy – partners in the business on June 14.

“Andy fits the bill,” Schwartz said. “When I saw Andy’s Internet blog, I was totally impressed by his photos of children, high-school seniors and wedding parties, as well as by his ability to work with Photo Shop on the computer. He has excellent public-relations skills too.”

The business plan is for McKee, a 1995 Plymouth High School graduate, and Schwartz to spend one year working together, with Schwartz.

“My wife and I will eventually turn the studio over to Andy,” Schwartz explained. “However, I will continue to work for Andy after he becomes the owner.

When the Schwartzes opened their business in 1981, it was located for one year in the Town & Country building on Eastern Ave. They moved to the Mill Street Transfer building on Mill St. in 1982 and spent three years there, before moving to their present location.

Schwartz said he is grateful to have McKee working with him. “I am excited knowing there is someone to help me out when I am busy, or we want to visit our daughters Andrea and Laura, who live in Chicago,” Schwartz said.

After just three days on the job, Schwartz and his wife took advantage of the new business arrangement, by joining Laura and Andrea on an exciting venture.

Laura Schwartz, a White House Strategist who appears on the CNN, Fox Cable, CBS and BBC television networks, and vice president of communications for Macy’s, is promoting her new book, “Eat, Drink and Succeed,” published this year by Black Ox, Chicago, during speaking engagements at Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne – all located in Australia.

Schwartz and his wife accompanied her to Australia. They left June 17 and will return home July 2.

Laura will be doing a book signing at the Plymouth Mill Street Festival, Saturday, July 10, at the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce booth in front of the studio to benefit the Chamber’s scholarship fund.

In their absence, McKee will be minding the store. But he’s up to the challenge and looking forward to pursuing his goal of the past several years – a full-time career in photography.

A 1999 graduate of St. Norbert College, McKee earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business with a minor in graphic design.

He then spent three years as a graphic designer at Chisholm Graphics in Milwaukee. His next position was art director for Slingshot Marketing in Saukville where he worked five years.

McKee’s most recent position was that of account executive at Monarch Creative in Milwaukee, from 2007-present.

Meanwhile, since 2004, he has had a sideline photography business, with an in-home studio.

“It all started when my wife Marisa and I had our first son, Calvin [now 6], McKee recalled. “I started taking photos of him, capturing those special moments.

“I did the same when our daughter Clara [now 4], came along,” he added. “Friends of ours saw the photos and asked me to take the same type of photos of their children, so I did, and by word of mouth, I began getting more and more requests.”

Mckee said he is basically self-taught in photography. However, he has taken a few professional courses. His sideline portrait photography business has expanded dramatically during the past six years. McKee currently photographs families, weddings and high school seniors.

In his art director position, “One of my duties was to hire commercial photographers to photograph products, such as lawn mowers,” McKee noted. “Later, I started doing photos of products for design clients.”

In his new position with Photography by Schwartz, McKee will continue assisting Schwartz in photographing weddings, families and some high school seniors in Sheboygan and Ozaukee counties. In addition, he will also photograph local sporting events and classes at 18 schools, located in Sheboygan County, Racine and Columbus.

Ironically, Schwartz and McKee first met years ago. At that time, McKee was a student at St. John the Baptist Catholic School, Plymouth, and Schwartz took McKee’s class photos throughout his years at the school. Later, McKee hired Schwartz to take his photo for his senior class portrait at PHS.

Within the past few months, Schwartz was talking with Travis Downs, an employee of Tricor Insurance & Financial Services, Plymouth.

“I mentioned to Travis that I was looking for another photographer to work in the studio with me and to eventually take over the business,” Schwartz recalled.

“It turns out that Travis is Andy McKee’s brother-in-law. So a couple hours after our conversation, Andy phoned me to ask if he could come to talk with me about his photography.”

The rest is history. “I heard he was looking, and for a long time, I have wanted to be a full-time photographer,” McKee said.

McKee is aware he faces a challenge at the onset of his new career. “My challenge lies in meeting new clients and doing the best I can,” he affirmed.

However, “I’m looking forward to being back in town,” he added, noting that his mother Pat McKee is still a Plymouth resident.

“While I was growing up here, we lived first on Eastman St. and then on Bittersweet Lane,” he said.

Meanwhile, McKee will also be involved in community outreach. He has joined the Plymouth Lions Club and will also join the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce.

He has resided in Fredonia for the past nine years. His wife is a board-certified associate behavior analyst at The Center for Autism Treatment in Cedarburg.

Note: To schedule an appointment with McKee or for further information, phone 893-8989.

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