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Napkin started a business plan for Shindle’s Creative Moments Photography.

Sometimes the best business plans start out so simply. For Brian and Judith Shindle, the groundwork for Creative Moments Photography started with a napkin.

“We sat in a restaurant and wrote on a napkin our dream for a business,” Judith said. “We felt we needed to call our business ‘Creative Moments’ because we wanted to allow the time to get to know our clients and capture their moments creatively. Sometimes, that happens in a millisecond, and sometimes, it takes time.”

For the past 35 years, the Shindles have gotten to know and capture the moments at Worthington Christian School. The Shindles estimate they have taken close to half a million images of the school’s history. Brian has been WC’s official photographer for every graduation since 1989 and has shot the official senior portraits and staff photographs for the school yearbooks. Additionally, the Shindles attend nearly all the galas, musical and theatre productions, and orchestra and choral events.

Walk down the school’s hallways, and one can see the Shindles’ thumbprint everywhere, capturing the life, times, and hairstyles of Worthington Christian. Want to see what Principal Tim Kraynak looked like when he was a senior in high school? His class photo is readily on display.

The Shindles are not only the photographers for the school, but the roots of their family tree have become deeply entwined with the school. All three of their daughters, Lindsay Suster (WC ’04), Chauncey Cianci (WC ’96), and Tiffany Edwards (WC ’92), as well as one of their sons-in-law, Mike Edwards (WC ’91), have their pictures on the school’s walls. Their grand-niece, Maddy Shindle (WC ’24), and grand-nephew Michael Shindle (WC ’26) attend the school.

Capturing WC life has been a labor of love for the Shindles.

“I began to think about that the other night, and I woke up in tears,” Judith said, her voice quivering. “I think about the joy of getting to know each one of those students.

“We’re starting to see multiple generations of families now. I remember Barb and Jim Kraynak coming in, seeing their son’s images, and choosing the best one. Then we had Tim and his lovely wife (Alicia) come in with their children. Sitting around and talking with those generations about our memories with their families.”

A Love Story

To understand Brian and Judith’s love affair with taking pictures of WC students, one must understand the couple’s love story.

Judith had been a real estate agent who was looking for a photographer to take pictures of homes and families when she met Brian.

“Brian was the third photographer I had hired for my business; he was fabulous,” she said. “Consequently, our business relationship turned into a friendship … and that friendship became a romance and then a marriage.

“As much as I enjoyed my career as a real estate broker, I realized Brian has a God-given gift when it comes to people. He has a wonderful heart for being able to capture authenticity.”

However, Brian was burned out on taking pictures for a living. While studying art and photography at The Ohio State University, he worked for a photo studio that was contracted to shoot pictures at all the Columbus City Schools graduations except Whetstone, Brian’s alma mater.

“He would spend weekends at Mershon and Veteran’s Memorial auditoriums taking all of these pictures,” she said. “After years of doing that, he decided he didn’t want to continue photographing graduations. It was such a high-volume business, and he never got to know his clients.”

When they were laying out plans on the napkin, Brian expressed a desire only to do a couple of major sessions a day, so he would get to know his customers and therefore serve them better.

As the two started their business, then located on the second floor of 14 North State Street in downtown Westerville, Judith reduced her involvement with real estate to help run the studio.

“God was there from the very start,” she said. “After two years, we knew we’d outgrown that space.”

When Brian first showed Judith the place that would become their studio on 131 East Home Street in Westerville, she said “a fixer-upper” may have been the most flattering term she could attach to it. It had no electrical outlets, plumbing, and a metal sheet roof showing the sky.

“Brian had to hoist me up there because there were no steps,” Judith recalled with a laugh. “It was just kind of a vast dark space. (When he said it was perfect), I said, ‘If you’re being led here, then let’s (go for it).”

At the same time they were getting adjusted to their new studio, the Shindles received a phone call from former Worthington Christian superintendent Taylor Smith.

“Taylor was always looking for ways to make the school better and to introduce things he felt would (enhance) the students’ legacy at the school,” Judith said. “He called us and said, ‘I’ve got a problem.’

“The company he had contracted to take the school’s graduation photos felt it would be too difficult to set up all their lighting equipment to photograph such a small graduating class.

“We had a daughter attending school there, so we told him we would be delighted to do it, but we needed to pray about it and talk with the other company before we made any decisions.”

The assignment appeared to be (pardon the pun) tailor-made for the young company. Soon afterward, Creative Moments began managing the school’s photography.

“That graduation was our first experience taking pictures at Worthington Christian,” Judith said. “Now we’re getting ready for our 35th graduation. It is pretty amazing.”

And it all started with a napkin.

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