LAURINBURG — Lights. Background. Camera. Action.
Pittsburgh native and McColl resident Steve Kapa is ready to highlight the personalities of Laurinburg with newly installed studio lighting at Zen Photographic Art.
“I’m really trying to bring photography back to being a local business for the people of Scotland and surrounding counties and giving them a very creative option with above-standard photography,” Kapa said.
Kapa has spent several years learning to gauge personalities while working one-on-one with patients as a physician’s assistant in Laurinburg. His latest venture is just another way for him to connect with people — to “capture a moment in time that will never happen again.”
Kapa has loved photography since he was a kid and has been professionally shooting photography for about three years, after learning the art by trial and error. Kapa was inspired to start his own business when requests for his work began to pile up. He decided that it might be a way to make money doing something he’s passionate about.
Since getting Zen Photographic Art up and running he’s been juggling the tasks of being a husband, father of a five-month old, and continuing to work as a physician’s assistant. His wife helps him set up the shoots and assists with lighting when possible. He said the business is open by appointment only, or “when my open sign is flashing.”
Kapa’s business, at 106 South Main St., is formerly the home of CM Studios and photographer Chip Morton, who is now retired. Kapa repainted the walls, hung up gallery lights, turned one of the “shooting rooms” into a gallery and kept the other as it was.
The name, he said, was selected to reflect his casual photographic style.
“Zen is for a relaxed atmosphere,” said Kapa. “But the ‘art’ part of the name is because I feel that’s what I’m creating when I do my work.”
Kapa said that he didn’t mind taking traditional photos but what he really enjoys shooting are more artistic photos, particularly when there’s “dramatic lighting in unusual places.” He will travel anywhere in the country to shoot weddings, senior pictures, proms or headshots, but also respects the business’ local ties.
“I’m really interested in bringing the photography back to Scotland County,” said Kapa. “I really want to focus on getting locals — schools, day cares, preschool, seniors, engaged couples and anyone wanting photography back to Laurinburg. Just because we are a small town doesn’t mean we can’t have a great quality option.”
Tonia Stephenson, president of the Laurinburg/Scotland County Area Chamber of Commerce, said that she “couldn’t be happier” about Kapa’s newly established business joining Main Street and believes that Zen Photographic Art, as well as the other local business, will be successful.
“I think it shows the strength of Scotland County,” she said. “We are making it over the hurdle of the bad economy.”
Kapa makes it his priority to take the time to get to know his customers before each photo shoot. They discuss things such as if they want to shoot inside or outdoors, in the studio or in a less traditional location — things that helps him plan for the shot that will help his client’s personalities shine through.
“Then I see what they are looking for,” said Kapa. “Are they interested more in standard portraits or something more dramatic and artistic?”
Sunday’s Christmas on Main event showcased some of Kapa’s more traditional work, as he took portraits of children with Santa Claus. He is preparing for another Santa photo shoot on Dec. 8 from 2-5 p.m.
Kapa said that members of the Chamber of Commerce and the Laurinburg Downtown Revitalization Corporation helped support him with Zen Photographic Art’s grand opening, and his ribbon cutting on Nov. 20 was his first big success.
His work can be viewed at zenphotographicart.com or on Facebook.
Kapa’s favorite part of taking photos are the people.
“Everyone is different and when I capture their personality in an artistic photo then I’ve done my job,” he said.