You sink a good chunk of money into renovating a building to house your photography studio. Then you have to move. But the good news is you found a historic building in a great location in Downtown Lorain that not only suits your purposes, but also has a delightful personal connection.

“This building wasn’t even on our radar. I was looking for something less expensive. But it’s great and right next to the Lorain Palace Theater, so I decided to take the plunge,” says Jason Shaffer, owner of Jason Shaffer Photography, incorporated in 2001. 

Shaffer is creating an attractive, vintage-looking exterior for the building built in the early 1900s and restoring the original floor. After going down seven layers of flooring, he saw that a section of the maple floor had been removed. So he and a friend are creating an inlay insert made from different woods from his Uncle Charlie’s farm to fill the space. The photographer is also installing a cyclorama wall system in the studio to present a panoramic view of images. A grand opening is set for spring 2020.

“I want to make this building, which survived a tornado hit, a gem. There is a huge sense of community in Downtown Lorain. And the people of Lorain appreciate every dollar you spend to make it better,” says Shaffer, adding that other local business owners rallied to help him with everything from carpentry to emotional support. “A lot of people don’t give towns like Lorain credit. They think if someone isn’t from New York, LA or even Cleveland, that you can’t have a great photography business or a really nice studio. They’re wrong.”

Shaffer focused on wedding and portrait photography early in his career, but now concentrates on food (he especially likes to shoot desserts) and industrial photography, where he uses more of his advanced skills. 

“I like working with mom-and-pop stores and restaurants where I can give them the quality photos they deserve at affordable prices. That helps them compete with the big chains,” says Shaffer. “I like to stay relevant and modern, but I also pride myself on knowing the basics of traditional photography. And to succeed, you need to be humble and willing
to learn.”    

Oh, and about that personal connection to the new building? For many years it housed Seymour’s Jewelry Store, a well-known business in Lorain. It was also where Shaffer’s grandmother’s engagement ring was purchased.

“That’s pretty cool,” says Shaffer.


The Right Backdrop

Jason Shaffer shares a few of his favorite Lorain photo locations.

Broadway Avenue, Downtown Lorain
“The historic architecture, views of the lake and iconic sunsets make downtown a great place to bring your camera and walk around. There is a lot going on right now on Broadway, including new sidewalks, lighting, businesses and a newfound energy mixed with good vibes. This area is also within walking distance of the Black River Landing.” 

Century Park, East Erie and Massachusetts avenues

“Century Park is the hidden gem of beaches in Lorain, mostly visited by locals who grew up playing there. The views are beautiful, the water super clear and the beaches are lined with smooth rocks gently tumbled over a lifetime from our Great Lake.” 

Charles Berry Bascule Bridge, U.S. Route 6/Erie Avenue

“One cannot think of Lorain without including the Charles Berry Bascule Bridge, an iconic, grand structure. Across the south view via the Black River Landing, or the north side from the old fishing docks, there is really no bad angle viewing the bridge.” 

(The bridge, previously named Erie Avenue Bridge, was built in the 1930s. In 1988, it was renamed Charles Berry Bridge after a Marine from Lorain who lost his life in World War II during the battle of Iwo Jima and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Charles Berry is buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Lorain.)