Heath Shelton has been living his dream, telling stories through pictures, for over 29 years. Photography started as his dad’s hobby, but once the cameras were set aside for other endeavors, Shelton picked them up and began capturing images, which has now turned into more than a career.
“In junior high, during my skate boarding days, my friends knew my dad had all of these cool cameras,” explained Shelton. “This was in the film days, so I would shoot four or five rolls of film of my friends and my mom would get them developed, and they’d be all black. My dad could’ve told me how to do it right, but he wanted me to learn the process. After I got about four or five good images back, I took them to the skate shop and the owner offered to buy them for 50 cents each and put them on the bulletin board, I said, ‘sold!’ I’ve been behind a camera ever since.”
Shelton knew at that time he wanted to own his own photography studio. He graduated from Oklahoma State University (OSU) Technology, Okmulgee, from their photography program. He worked at OSU Stillwater as their main photographer for two years while also working from his home studio. He and his wife, Traci moved to Guthrie in 1999 and soon after outgrowing their home photography studio, Shelton explained that they hung their Shelton’s Photography and Design shingle on a brick and motor building (first at Broad and Cleveland and now at N. 2nd St. in Guthrie.)
All three of their kids, Charli 17, Averi 13, and Drake 8 have grown up not only in Guthrie, but also in the studio. One of the things Shelton loves about owning his own business is that they have been able to be involved in their kids’ activities.
Shelton has had opportunity to photograph some very interesting people.
“I may be photographing a high school senior today and somebody’s widgets the next day. It was really neat at OSU because everybody who shook the president’s hand, I got to photograph. I actually photographed the guy who invented sliced peanut butter, as well as the guy who invented the very first computer,” detailed Shelton.
Shelton also serves as the associate minister for Guthrie Christian Church which has been in Guthrie over 50 years. Last August, the congregation suffered a huge loss when their church building was destroyed in a devastating fire. While there were a lot of items lost and a lot of memories lived within that location, Shelton shared that the congregation understands it was just a building and that the experience has kept everyone united and helped them grow as a church. Currently, they worship at the Drexel Event Center; however, while they at one time planned to rebuild, answer to prayers came in a different form.
“We were planning to rebuild on the same location. We were covered well by insurance. We had been praying that if God wanted us in a different location, He would show us. As we were about to draw up plans, one of our members heard that the Faith Publishing building was for sale. We bought it and are remodeling it. We hope to be in the building by sometime this summer or at least by the start of school. ” shared Shelton.
Their current pastor, Don Riepe, will be retiring and with the start of the new school year, they will not only have a new building, but a new pastor. Shelton describes it as an opportunity for their church to have a new start. The public will be invited to an open house, date to be announced.
Advice Shelton would give to someone who is getting started in their career?
“You work 80% of your life so you find a job you love so when you wake up and get out of bed you are not moaning and groaning on your way to work,” advised Shelton. “You spend more time at work than you do at home, do what you love. The other thing I’d say is to just stay with it.”
Shelton received his CPP (Certified Professional Photographer) in 1996 and keeps it current with over 100+ continuing education hours every 5 yrs. The Certified Professional Photographer (CPP) program empowers photographers to be more knowledgeable, successful, and technically equipped professionals in the industry. Being a CPP is like quality assurance because certification is a credential that consumers and businesses understand. The CPP designation was created in 1977 as a way to identify professional photographers who have demonstrated technical competence through a written exam and photographic evaluation.The studio is located at 117.5 N. 2nd St. in Guthrie. You can also visit their website at www.heathshelton.com.