by Ardeana Hamlin

of The Weekly Staff

In the reception room of Northstar Photography in Orono, clients are greeted by some of the recent images photographer Dave Brown has taken during the 30 years he has owned and operated his photography business. There are images of teenagers on the brink of high school graduation and the rest of their lives, infants bathed in the sweet newness of life, family groupings that somehow illustrate the invisible bonds tying them to one another, and dogs whose tails seemed to have stopped in mid-wag. The display of photographs embody Northstar Photography’s motto: Photography for the art and soul.

“I love it all,” Brown said of his longtime career as a photographer. “What I love most about this job is that it’s never the same thing twice. I still love it as much as I did 30 years ago.”

Brown opened his first studio in an upstairs location on Exchange Street in 1985, using a Bronica SQA camera and color film. For the next 27 years he worked in locations in downtown Bangor. Three years ago, he converted space in his home to house his photography business. These days he uses digital cameras and spends six hours of every week on self-education to keep updated on changes in camera technology, software, lighting and other technical aspects of photography. He estimates that he does 300 photo shoots every year.

“I miss the darkroom days,” Brown said, “but I love the digital camera. I can create things on the computer that never could have been done in the darkroom.”

Brown, who has two children, Cassidy and Cameron, and two dogs, Nero and Dexter, said that he has been an artist all his life, mainly doing drawings. “But after 18 years of drawing, I didn’t want to do it anymore,” he said. He took some time off from studying art at the University of Maine, but didn’t know what he wanted to do instead. Then a friend gave him a brochure about a new photography program in Massachusetts. “I walked in there and within an hour I knew it [photography] was what I wanted to do.”

But that decision required that he relinquish another opportunity. “Because of my drawing,” Brown said, “I had applied for an internship with Marvel Comics.” When he was offered the internship, he turned it down in favor of photography. “The fact that someone asked me to [be an intern there] was amazing,” he said.

He also determined during that time that he wanted to have his own business. That decision was based, in part, on the fact that when he was 14 he started a lemonade stand business. He recruited 14 other young people to run 14 lemonade stands he established throughout Bangor. “My dad built the fourteen lemonade stands and I earned enough to help finance college,” Brown said.

In addition to studio portraiture, Brown also does commercial photography from Thomas Marine Hardware in Franklin, LaBree’s Bakery in Old Town, Eastern Maine Medical Center, Hannaford and law firms. He also does photo restoration, teaches photography at NESCom at Husson University and offers One-on-One classes to individuals who want to learn some specific aspect of photography, such as how to take better photos of their children.

“ “I’m proud to be a photographer,” Brown said. “I get to meet so many people — capture their history — it’s important [that what I do] is going to mean something to someone. A photo is catching a moment in time — a personality, a soul, who the person thinks he is or is not — their history. I love people. Everyone is a new story. It’s very easy to become a photographer, but very hard to master photography,” Brown said. “You never stop learning.”

Northstar Photography hours are by appointment 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For information, call 947-4590, email or go to