My wife Cherie and my pal Goofy
I’ve been taking pictures since I was 10. I developed an interest in photography amid the smell of photographic chemicals and Kodak posters adorning the walls of the large commercial photofinishing business where my dad worked. My first camera was a Kodak Automatic 35 that dad gave me, a sample from the Kodak Co. I took it to Disney World in 1972, the first full year the park was open. I keep it on my desk to this day. Being able to have my photos developed for free at my dad’s workplace made it pretty inexpensive for me to learn the art of photography.
I grew up in Chattanooga and moved to Knoxville to attend University of Tennessee in 1980. I worked my way through college in the Art Department’s darkroom facility, at a local camera store, and finally at JCPenney way, way, back when they still had a camera department. I worked at one of the first one hour photo labs in the world at the 1982 World’s Fair here in Knoxville. In 1985, I graduated with honors with a BS in Accounting, but I knew my first day on the job at the prestigious Price Waterhouse CPA firm’s Nashville office that I had picked the wrong career. I’m just too much of a people person to look at piles of financial statements all day.
After a few years in the accounting & financial services industries, including a stint at Dean Witter Reynolds as a stockbroker, I wrote a book to teach business owners how to incorporate their own business, something unheard of at the time. Since a series of state specific how to incorporate your business books was a pretty small niche, no publisher was interested, so I started a small publishing company to market the books. My first order was for 300 books that I had printed at Kinko’s and hand-bound on my kitchen table. Along with the books, our company also sold custom-printed stock certificates, corporate seals and related materials that grossed an additional half-million dollars a year in sales, in 2004 dollars.
I spent a year writing my first book while my good wife taught middle school to support us. I was Mr. Mom (LOVED IT) and did bookkeeping too. My “How to Incorporate Without a Lawyer” and “How to Incorporate in Any State” series of books (33 vols.) became best-sellers, selling over 100,000 copies at major bookstores nationwide. After the wall fell in Eastern Europe, our US Small Business Administration set up office in Moscow and kept my books there as a reference for Russians starting businesses both here and there. I sold this business in 2005 to spend more time with my fast-growing photography business, something I had been doing in addition to the publishing business for some time. Although out-of-print now, my books are still listed on Amazon, Barnes & Nobel etc. under the name W. Dean Brown.
I’ve photographed nearly 6,000 properties from rental cabins, hotels here in East Tennessee, the Smoky Mountains and in Florida, luxury homes for magazines like CityView Knoxville and Knoxville Magazine, as well as professional business portraits, sometimes called “head shots.” I’m easy going, easy to work with and really enjoy what I do. I like to hear and share a good story and a laugh. They say that behind every successful man, there’s a surprised mother-in-law, but there is also a great wife. My wife Cherie runs our business, doing most of the communicating, all of the scheduling, billing and (yuck) the taxes and such. So when I say we, that’s who I mean, me and Cherie. We were high school sweethearts and are inseparable. As we say, I do the creative, and she does everything else. 😉