Author’s Note: The local arts community is overflowing with talent and enthusiasm. This month, I am spotlighting two gifted photographers – both Altoona natives – who are invested in their art and making their mark locally and outside of the region.
It took a daredevil to give photographer Tim Boyles the thrill of his personal and professional life.
In 2013, Boyles had the amazing opportunity to photograph acrobat Nik Wallenda cross the Grand Canyon.
What made the gig even sweeter was Wallenda’s blessing for Boyles to bring his dad on the adventure. The father and son duo spent four memorable days on the shoot.
“I found out that I wasn’t just documenting Nik’s accomplishment, but I got lots of photos with me and my dad, which became even more relevant because my dad passed about six months later,” Boyles stated. “That’s probably the highlight of my career and professional life.”
Boyles’ passion for photography began when he chose journalism as a concentration during his time in the United States Navy.
“The photography really inspired me and made me feel good about what I was doing,” he stressed. “It was like we were long-lost soulmates.”
After the Navy, Boyles worked for several years as a reporter and photojournalist at WTAJ TV in the Altoona/Johnstown/State College market, and then tackled the TV news business in Tampa, Florida.
When he stepped away from television journalism, it was decision time.
“I fished for six months, and thought about what I wanted to do,” Boyles said.
He decided to further explore photography, bought a digital camera, and started a website.
A cold call to Getty Images – a nationally known company which supplies stock images – turned out to be one of the best career moves he could have made.
His first assignment, still based in Tampa, was shooting a news conference with New York Yankee star Jason Giambi, who was embroiled in a steroid scandal.
It put Boyles in the same arena as the aggressive New York media.
“They’re getting right in (Giambi’s) face, and I just did my thing and looked for the moment and ended up getting this great shot of Jason Giambi framed so the New York Yankee logo was on top of his head,” Boyles reminisced. “New York Newsday ran it full page with the headline ‘Keeping it Under his Hat.’”
From there, Boyles had the good fortune to expand his portfolio of celebrity shoots. Besides Wallenda, some of the other stars he has photographed include John Travolta, Taylor Swift, Kevin Costner, Mark Wahlberg, and Keith Urban.
Back home in Altoona and running his own photography business, Boyles is still affiliated with Getty, and has also found a new niche with travel photography.
“I’m working with magazines and cruise ships and having a great time discovering new items to shoot,” he mentioned.
Boyles continues to teach private lessons, and he guest lectures at Penn State Altoona photography classes.
Perhaps the best lesson he can teach is the mantra he follows himself: “I shoot every shoot the same whether you’re John Travolta or a high school senior. I treat every job the same, and that’s to deliver pictures with power, passion, and emotion.”
Being a jack of all trades can be difficult, but for one local artist, it is picture perfect.
Chuck Meyers enjoys shooting weddings, senior portraits, sporting events, concerts, special events, and scenes in nature.
“There’s not a lot I don’t do,” he admitted. “I’m a busy guy.”
The Altoona native ventured into the world of photography nearly two decades ago and opened his own studio about five years ago.
Located at 317 Allegheny Street in Hollidaysburg, Two20Studios is home base for some of Meyers’ breathtaking work. He purchased the building to run his photography operations and serve the community through his talent.
He especially loves covering sports, including West Virginia Mountaineer home football games throughout the season and occasional Pittsburgh Steelers games.
In fact, among his most memorable photos is Steelers linebacker TJ Watt appearing to jump ten feet in the air.
“I would call it a signature shot,” Meyers surmised.
Nailing images like that can be a challenge for any photographer, but the reward is great.
“It is so gratifying when you know you captured a fleeting moment forever,” he confessed.
While securing action shots often involves being able to predict what comes next, Meyers noted that the key to successful portrait work is being able to coax just the right expression out of the subject.
Actor Kevin McNally of Pirates of the Caribbean fame and the California band Slightly Stoopid are among the famous people who have graced the other side of Meyers’ lens.
He also savors the opportunity to shoot landscapes whenever possible.
“It’s an escape to go out and be by yourself and do that, but it’s hard to find the time,” he said.
As his success continues to build, Meyers is humbled and inspired to be part of the local arts scene.
“It has been eye-opening to see the number of talented people out there and how good their work is,” he stressed. “I appreciate that now.”
Meyers’ enthusiasm for the community is evident, and views his achievements as a photographer, and the achievements of other artists, as beneficial to all.
“I grew up here, and I think a lot of Blair County,” he maintained. “I am invested in the community and want to continue to help a lot of different organizations with what I do.”