Zionsville is home to numerous businesses, and one business owner is carrying on his father’s legacy each day he walks into work.
Cripe Photography, located at 45 N. Main St., will celebrate 50 years of business this month. The business, owned by Bill Cripe, was started by his father, William Cripe Sr., in 1973.
The photography business will host an open house from 3 to 6 p.m. on Nov. 2 to celebrate the milestone of 50 years in the making. The studio will be open to the community as a way to get to know more residents and let people know what the studio is all about. Light refreshments and giveaways will also be provided.
The studio’s location formerly was Cripe’s father’s business, Bill’s Barbershop, and became the Cripe Photography studio residents know and love in the 1980s.
“In the beginning, my father was photographing weddings in the area, and he eventually turned it into a full-time business shooting seniors, families and children,” Cripe said.
Bill grew up in the field and has had a camera in his hand from a young age. His mother Ann (Birdie) worked at Zionsville Community High School for 35 years as an art teacher and did the yearbook
“I helped (my mom) cover stuff at the school and shot my first wedding professionally when I was 13 years old,” Cripe said. “I put myself through college by photographing events.”
Cripe graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Ball State University. He worked for Herff Jones before he took over his father’s business in 1990, working collaboratively with him for about two years before his father retired.
“Our family has lived in Zionsville for many generations,” Cripe said. “The community response to our business has been wonderful. Since my family has been doing this for a long time, we know a lot of families and people in the area and have had a wonderful business to grow into.”
At its start, Cripe Photography offered senior portraits, family photos and children shoots. About 15 years ago, the business transitioned out of traditional portrait shooting and now works only with schools in the area.
“Many changes in the industry led our business to change directions,” Cripe said. “We saw the chance to grow our business by working with schools, and once we got involved with nearby districts, we loved it.”
Cripe Photography works with many school districts, including Zionsville, Noblesville, Carmel, Westfield, Mill Creek and more, taking photos for yearbooks and sporting events.
“A lot of people remember us for what we used to offer years ago,” Cripe said. “They have no idea we transitioned to school photography to provide photos for schools.”
Stephanie Keehn, who works alongside Cripe at the studio, said the company loves servicing schools and building relationships with school districts in the surrounding areas.
“Whether it is Zionsville or any surrounding district, we enjoy getting to know the students and administration in the schools,” Keehn said. “When you are servicing schools for as many years as we have, you get to know the kids and recognize them outside of the school setting because you have been taking their picture for years.”
Cripe and Keehn said their goal for the future of Cripe Photography is to continue providing services that big companies cannot.
“We are a small company that is essentially competing with bigger companies,” Cripe said. “The biggest difference between us and them is the customer service we provide.”
Cripe said now that his two children are grown, most of his time is spent focusing on the business. He is also actively involved in a few local clubs and organizations.
“If anything, we just want people to know that we love what we do,” Keehn said. “We hope to continue to grow and get our name out there for other school districts to see.”
For more information about Cripe Photography, visit cripephoto.com
The Bill Cripe File
Name: Bill (William) Cripe
Residence: “My family has lived in Zionsville my whole life and my kids are the fifth generation to grow up in my house.”
Children: Carly Decker and Liam Cripe
Favorite thing to photograph: “I love shooting with elementary students because they are so darn cute and always excited for picture day.”
Life Motto: “Enjoy today.”
Favorite restaurants in Zionsville: “I try to frequent a lot of different businesses but some of my favorites are Cobblestone and Tipsy Mermaid.”