While in the process of establishing a family of three daughters and a son, and realizing that big budgets were only reachable in Hollywood, he made the decision to make the move to still photography.

Don discovered it would provide enough income and unbelievable happiness to make life worth living.  This venture became known as Thoen Photography.

 

When Greg thinks back to 1974... while helping his Dad out during a break from

Vo-Tech school; his Dad told him, "Son, life is short and you'll spend a fair amount of it working, so be sure that you spend that time doing something you enjoy".  Long story short, Greg went to work for his Dad full time and the next eight years were amazing before Don's life was cut short from a heart attack.

Having learned everything from his Dad's insight and wisdom, thirty years later Greg loves the business now more than ever.

Greg & Jeff created 95% of their advertising images on large format sheet film without the assistance of Photoshop, using their skills to capture an image in its best light.  From table top to large scale automotive, it is composition, lighting, use of color and attention to details that keeps their commercial advertising clients coming back.

 

In dealing with normal product flaws, some workarounds were time consuming and costly.  So they were one of the first Minneapolis photographers to have a full-time retoucher on staff.  They did a lot of what Greg coined "pre-touching", via airbrushing in advance on the product or in the set.

This worked well but...  Most post-production retouching was still very labor intensive.  In 1989 they bought their first  Mac.  At best, it improved their typing skills and office efficiency, but did give them a better understanding of what was to come.

 

They started outsourcing images to service bureaus on certain projects and that’s when they realized what potential there was in the digital environment.  Needless to say, the ROI was not cost effective “yet”, but they knew Digital was here to stay and planned accordingly.

 

Once Desktop Scanner technology was up to speed, they started supplying a free scanned file along with the sheet film to their clients.  It wasn't long before everyone just wanted the digital file.  Digital cameras on the other hand, would still be a ways out before they could rival scanned sheet film resolution.

Greg owes making the right choices in the digital transformation stage to his right hand man Jeff Natrop; who early on, bought, read and highlighted every Photoshop article and manual he could get his hands on.

Greg's father Don, started his second career back in 1967 becoming a self taught commercial photographer.

Don's first career was working for his father in financial management after coming back from WWII.  During the twenty years with his father, Don realized that unless you're doing something you truly enjoy, it doesn't matter about the money.

 

Don's hobby of being an amateur film maker doing 16mm films since the 50's gave him some great insight on composition, lighting and color, let alone details and small budgets.

In 2001, Thoen & Associates moved their Commercial Advertising Photography studio to a fresh new space in Maple Grove, Minnesota.  After 27 years in what they thought was one of the best studio setups in the area (11,000 square feet), they made the big decision to design and move into a new studio based on how the digital work-flow was changing the way they operate.

 

Selling off their film based cameras, lighting and darkroom equipment while the market was still good, turned out to be one of the best decisions to date.

They even sold umpteen vintage pinball, jukebox and soft drink machines that they acquired over the years.  Who ever figured these old things would be worth so much?

 

It was a brutal year long transition shooting everyday at the old studio and by night, loading a total of seven semi trailers full of good stuff to the new studio.

The last job they did at the old place was on a Friday and the client picked it up on Monday at the new studio - didn't miss a day.

 

Fast forward with 16 years of digital experience under their belts. A paradigm shift in the business model has shown that T&A’s move to offer “Downtime” rates to be the right decision.

More and more clients find themselves donning multiple hats, pinched for time, and just can’t stay for the photo shoots. Drop offs and downtime scheduling fits the “new norm” perfectly.

 

With more clients shipping projects to the studio and less actually coming to the photo shoots, it made it feasible to move the studio to Greg’s home. Rental space can be procured for larger projects as needed. This gives T&A the ability to be super competitive when dealing with tight budgets (also the new norm); while still providing the “Gold Standard” in Quality and Service their clients have come to depend upon.

Today, Greg and Jeff love it more now than ever. Harnessing the ever changing tools in digital photography, they love the daily challenges presented to them.

Using the advances in technology, coupled with their years of experience, they consistently offer greater value to their family of clients.

We have three simple rules:

 • Every Project is the most important projectEvery Client is the most important client Every promise made, is a promise kept

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We have three simple rules:

Every Project is the most important project

Every Client is the most important client

Every Promise Made, is a Promise Kept

We have three simple rules:

Every Project is the most important project

Every Client is the most important client

Every Promise Made, is a Promise Kept

History

We have three simple rules:

Every Project is the most important project

Every Client is the most important client

Every Promise Made, is a Promise Kept