Crown Photo and Video featuring Theresa’s Photo Services
By Kimberly Boney
Story by Kimberly Bonéy
Photos by Harvey Spector
EVERY NOW AND THEN, the proverbial door comes within a breath of closing. If the fates align, there is a chance to slip through the narrow space, before the landscape is altered permanently. Last year, after serving the North State for 62 years as the owner of Crown Camera in Downtown Redding, Gary Engell decided it was time to retire. In the moment just before the door between the past and the future would slam shut – one week, to be exact – two people reached out, grabbed the handle and reopened the door.
“What are we going to do when you’re not here anymore?” It was the question that Engell’s son, Jeff, and
Theresa Wood, who had worked at Crown Camera for 30 years, heard time and time again. As customers flooded into the store with projects during Crown Camera’s final days, their sense of panic and sadness at the thought of what they’d do without the business they had known and loved for decades was palpable.
“You’d think the stock market crashed,” said Jeff Engell. Crown Camera was the only business of its kind in the North State and the realization that the community was feeling the sting of its loss prompted a big decision. Engell and Wood felt a sense of responsibility to keep its memories intact for future generations.
“I thought I’d take a small footprint of the original business. Gary sold me some of the equipment for a good price and I was planning to move over to a shop on Bechelli – one that I could afford. Jeff decided he wanted to continue to offer his services, as well. In the process of trying to move to Bechelli, we realized that it wouldn’t work for our needs,” says Wood. Shortly before Gary’s passing, he called the landlord to see if they could maintain a smaller portion of the space occupied by Crown Camera.
“‘All I care about, Kid, is a chair and a newspaper – and I promise I’ll be quiet!’ That’s what he said to me. But we knew that wouldn’t happen. He was constantly telling Jeff and I what to do. We wish we could have had five more years of him bossing us around,” says Wood with a laugh.
Crown Photo & Video Featuring Theresa’s Photo Services is honored to say that its doors are open in Downtown Redding. There, in a portion of the same space where memories have been treasured and preserved for decades, Engell and Wood are still working to provide a quintessential service. The business name and the street address are new, but the legacy is enduring.
Jeff Engell provides a full range of video and audio editing services, including record-to-CD transfer and digitization of mp4 video formats, to name a few. Theresa Wood offers photo printing, digitization of 35mm film and negative slides, and memory mashups – videos compiled from photos, music and text used to commemorate special occasions or to memorialize a loved one. The website, www.crownphotoandvideo.com, offers a place for clients to securely store their memories and an opportunity to create specialty photo gifts.
“Photographs, video and movies preserve our heritage for future generations,” says Engell. “I’ve had customers bring in recorded tapes of babies’ voices they’ve never heard before. When I transfer the recordings onto an audio CD-ROM, our clients can hear what their ancestors sounded like.”
Engell had the opportunity to work on a video production for longtime client and Shasta Lake City resident Jean Naylor. “The local market there in Central Valley used to sell old movie film. When the film expired and could no longer be sold on the shelf, the manager would give it to Ron, who would pass it along to his wife. She began documenting the life of her family through home movies in the 1960s. There were videos of her children when they were little. She told the entire story of her family in the form of a movie – narrated in her own voice. It was called ‘All Because Two People Fell in Love’,” Engell says.
Wood says she gets emotional when dealing with photos – even if they aren’t of her own family. Memory mashups are among her most treasured projects. She recently created one for former Sheriff Tom Bosenko’s retirement party and says “it’s like seeing a whole family’s life right in front of me. It’s remarkable.”
While digitization is an opportunity to showcase special moments, it’s also crucial for protection against the loss of family histories. “In the Carr Fire, people lost images on their computers and on their walls. It’s nice to have something tangible on the wall, but it’s good to always have a backup,” says Wood.
Although the landscape of the business has changed, Wood and Engell hope to bridge the gap between the community’s needs and the people who can provide them. “We still work closely with our old coworkers. They are still providing some services to the community through their own businesses,” says Engell.
Harvey Spector, artist and photographer, offers camera cleaning services and assists Wood with large-format print work if an image is too large to fit onto a scanner. Duane Brovan hopes to reintroduce his photo workshops and other services into the newly redefined business.
“We’ve seen a lot of people in our community grow up. Some of them came to us when they were babies, and now they are 30 years old. All the years we have been working and maintaining a relationship with them has created a meaningful bond,” says Wood. “I think that it was only with the closure of Crown Camera that we realized what a powerful connection we had to each other. That connection gives us hope that we’ll continue to be here to help preserve the memories of this community.”•
Crown Photo & Video Featuring
Theresa’s Photo Services
1360 Tehama St. • Redding
(530) 243-8333 • www.crownphotoandvideo.com
Monday – Friday, 9am – 5:30pm
Kimberly N. Bonéy is a freelance writer, jewelry designer and owner of HerStory Vintage and herstoryvintage.com. When she’s not writing stories or joyfully creating new jewelry in her home studio, she’s enjoying time with her family, traveling or perusing flea markets, vintage and antique shops and estate sales for new inspiration.