different countries," says Amster, 70, a Bloomfield
Hills resident. "I'm never without my camera. I
started taking pictures as a hobby, and it became a
paying hobby and then a good-paying hobby."
Still A Hobby
Ralph Scheer shows
his work in Oak Park
Hobbyist To Professional
When Amster, a Cincinnati native, moved to
Detroit nearly 40 years ago, he had been recruited to
work in an archery supplies store.
Soon deciding that was not the field for him, the
new area resident looked for other opportunities and
came up with an idea. for a homeowners group able
to contract for discounts on household products.
Consumers Homeowners Association, which grew
from 15 to 12,000 members and is based in Walled
Lake, has developed into the largest homeowners
group in the Midwest and competes with photogra-
phy for Amster's attention.
"I've always liked traveling and would take along
my camera hunting special shots," Amster says. "My
interest in professional photography grew after a trip
to Switzerland in 1996, when I met a famous pho-
tographer, David Maenza.
"David had missed his connecting flight on the way
home to Chicago and stayed as our house guest until
he could get the reservations he needed. He noticed
some photos I had displayed on a wall and suggested
I submit my work to a stock photo agency, which
provides pictures for commercial use."
Amster took the advice and submitted prints to
six agencies. Although uniformly turned down, he
called one firm - to ask the reasons for the rejection,
took heed of the critique and spent a year putting
some new ideas into effect.
With fresh photos to submit, Amster won a five-
year contract with the agency that offered comments
on his work..
The Bloomfield Hills camera buff met with his
rental success through a bedtime image of a father
tucking in two daughters. The fee of $14,000 was for
use of the photo in an ad for a food company.
While the cost may seem high, using pictures
already taken can save a company a considerable
amount of money, Amster says. Paying for an inde-
pendent photographer, models, technicians and site
fees can add up to a lot more than renting an image
"I think that I have done best with people pictures,"
says Amster, who grew up in a Jewish household but
does not focus on photos with Jewish subject matter.
"I submit 40-100 images every month, and my -
photos have been in travel magazines and on book
and CD covers."
Sometimes, Amster gets specific assignments, par-
ticularly from resorts. He has done aerial photogra-
phy for a summer recreation center in Petoskey and
completed water shots for a posh getaway destina-
tion in Tahiti.
"Jack Drapkin, who was a professional photogra-
pher long before I entered the field, used to be my
neighbor, and he and his wife would offer encour-
agement and critique my work," Amster recalls.
'Although their first coaching was given many years
he architecture of
Congregation Shaarey Zedek
in Southfield and the garden
at Temple Israel in West Bloomfield
are among the images being fea-
tured by photographer Ralph
Scheer in a month-long exhibit at
the Oak Park Library.
Scheer, who recently showed his
work at the Royal Oak Library, also
has included a variety of pictures, from
building features to plant life, that do
not have religious contexts. He has a
hotel staircase, blossoms at a botanical
garden and a balloon display.
"I've enjoyed photography as a
hobby for 20 years, but I'd like to
turn that into a profession," says
Scheer, 58, a Farmington Hills resi-
dent who does assembly work for an
auto contractor and has done corn-
puter drafting for an automaker.
Scheer decided to expand his
photo interests after meeting art
photographer Marji Silk at a party
held at the Birmingham Temple
about a year ago. After she told him
about her classes, he signed up. He's
also studied photography at
Oakland Community College.
Scheer, who came to the United
States from Argentina 35 years ago,
is showing primarily color photos
in the library exhibit and will dis-
cuss his work at a reception run-
ning noon-3 p.m. Saturday, March
His activity in the Jewish com-
munity includes attending singles
events and special programs that
seem of interest to him.
"I use a Canon camera," he says. "I
leave the processing to others, and I
always look for good quality."
— Suzanne Chessler
Above: Jerry Amster
displays one of his
most popular travel
photos, taken in
the Fiji Islands,
Left: This photo
of Lynn Amster,
and art director,
is among the stock
available to clients
through a Web
ago, I still hear Fritas,voice saying, Watch the com-
position,' whenever I get behind a lens."
Amster, whose photos can be viewed on the Web
at wvvw.superstock.com using his number (155),
prefers a Nikon and works only in color because of
the commercial nature of his clients. He leaves the
developing process to professional labs.
When he wants a distinctive appearance, Amster
prints his photos on canvas and applies clear oils
with brushstrokes so that his pictures take on the
texture and look of oil paintings.
An upcoming project builds on an image Amster
posted on the Web. An exercise equipment company
spotted a shot of the photographer's wife working
out on some home gear and requested similar pic-
tures with the company's own devices.
"When people look at my pictures," Amster says,
"they see through my eye into my heart." El
The work of Jerry Amster will be shown
through March 15 at Gallery 91, 91 West Long
Lake Road, in Bloomfield Hills. Hours are 9
a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays. (248) 594-7446.
To see more of Amster's work, go to vvvvvv.super-
stock.com (use his number, 155, to acefss photos).
The photos of Ralph Scheer
will be shown throughout
March at the Oak Park Public
Library, 14200 Oak Park Blvd.
Library hours are 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Mondays-Thursdays and 10
a.m.-5:30 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays.