Veteran Photographer Extends His Creativity

No32_JustBeCoverVictor Powell has been capturing images of people for more than three decades. His portfolio includes portraits of three U.S. presidents, civil rights icons, scores of business executives and corporate events, and gobs of weddings, families and school photos.

Self-taught and one who vehemently rebuffs mediocrity, don’t call him merely a photographer.

“I am a creative services professional and a possibilities facilitator,” says Powell, 57, owner of Chicago-based Powell Photography Inc.

Since he started in the industry, setting aside his studies in electrical engineering to hone his passion for photography, Powell has evolved with the changes that seemed to happen overnight. Nevertheless, he says, he saw change coming and began to govern his entrepreneurial self accordingly, and even spread the word of digital’s emergence to his clients. The visual artist found himself trying to broaden his work in an industry he says has become “marginalized” in part because of the advent of personal electronics like tablets and cellphones.

But all the while he was snapping photos, moving from darkrooms to digital image technology and software and adjusting his business to embrace the blurred lines of multimedia, Powell was facing personal challenges and looking critically at his interactions with his clients. The experiences and “personal awakening” had all the makings of a hard-to-put-down book, he thought.

Just Be … Reflections of An Awakening and Discovering a Path to Being had been swirling in his head for many years – minus the title. As the burning to pen the tome heightened, he suffered from chronic writer’s block. It was a decades-long quandary, but in March 2013, “Just Be …” was published.

“Everyone finds his or her own path by looking within and realizing this is the only place that the answers have ever lived,” reads a description of the book on “ ‘Just Be …’ takes you deep into the concepts of true being, unraveling the many ways that we create limits in our experiences …”

The book is also available on and, and comes in hardcover, paperback and e-book.

“It is a possibility facilitation tool,” Powell says of the book.  “In other words, it helps you get back to connect with what I consider the most powerful part of what we all are. It’s basically coming back home to yourself and learning to just ‘be.’ … We’ve gotten so far away from our ‘being’ self into our ‘doing’ self until we don’t even realize it. What I’ve learned is, if you ask anybody who they are, they’ll tell you what they do.”

The Columbia College Chicago photography and filmmaking alum said his company, with its three-person staff and numerous business partnerships, offers multimedia services including PowerPoint presentations “on steroids.”

Powell moved into a business-to-business model over time because he said it was more financially bountiful and, he explained, “I didn’t have to spend that much time chasing my clients.”

He admits that when he started out over three decades ago that he had seen so much of what he considered mediocre photography that he set out on his “big white horse” and was determined to one- or two-up the standard.

“I got knocked down real quick and reality set in,” Powell said. “So what I did was, rather than try to inform the world and teach them what good photography is, I looked for clients who were looking for that.”

Rhonda Gillespie is a Chicago-based freelance writer.

Rhonda Gillespie
Rhonda Gillespie
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