Just a few weeks ago the first retail business in many years opened on Main Street at 603 in the Medical Arts Building. Flow: A Brew Parlor seems to be doing very well and now they have a new neighbor as photographer Bill Waldorf has opened Waldorf Photographic Art and Enso Albums in the adjacent suite. With their addition, the front spaces in the Medical Arts Building are taken, while a space remains on the eastern side facing Locust.
Bill Waldorf is the proprietor of the businesses under the Waldorf Creative umbrella. The core business is the photography business, but a desire to guide the quality of the product from the first shutter snap through to the finished product prompted him to expand his operation to include printing and albums. With the addition of Enso Albums to complement Waldorf Photographic Art, that goal seems to have been obtained. It was a long road to get to this point, however.
Originally from Mobile, Alabama, Bill studied art and photography at the University of South Alabama. After college he worked in retail for a regional department store as an illustrator and became Creative Director, a position he held for about fourteen years. During this time he photographed for their fashion catalog. He later became Vice President of Marketing before Saks Fifth Avenue hired him as a Senior Vice President for Marketing and moved him to Jackson, Mississippi. In 2000, the company purchased McRae’s and Proffitt’s and asked him to move to Knoxville as Executive Vice President for Marketing.
In 2005 he had a choice to make. Belk purchased Proffitt’s and McRae’s and offered him a position in Charlotte, North Carolina or he could remain in Knoxville and pursue his passion, which was photography. He chose the latter and used the remainder of that year to refine his vision and business model. He’d continued photography on the side during his corporate years and feels that his vision of photography through the eyes of the art he studied informs his perspective as a photographer. He cites Vermeer’s use of light, for example, as an influence of sorts on his work.
He opened Waldorf Photographic Art in the L&N Station in January 2006. While he’d practiced landscape photography during his years in Knoxville, it was photographing his niece’s wedding that captured his attention the most. He told me he “loved capturing the story of real life as it happens . . . to capture the authenticity of the moment as it unfolds.” The business grew rapidly as he photographed weddings and continued to do some corporate photography. By the time the L&N Station was set to be converted to the STEM School, he needed more space.
He moved to west Knoxville and continued to grow, but, “missed the feel and energy of being downtown. Never quite satisfied with what happened between the execution of the photographs and the finished product from a lab, he began printing his own photographs. Eventually, dissatisfied with the quality of albums, he started making his own under the subsidiary name of Enso Albums.
And they are amazing. Giclee prints on high quality acid-free card stock are lightly laminated and incorporated into a unique binding utilizing a proprietary method that produces seamless gutters in the middle of the open page, allowing the albums to be opened flat. The photographs aren’t inserted into the album, they are the album. The exteriors are offered in a variety of materials, including wood and leather. It’s worth stopping in just to see the albums. I promise they won’t mind. Not only do they finish their own photographs in this manner, they’ll use your photographs (you know, those wedding photographs you have on a disk), if you’d like. Bill’s son, Grant, handles all the printing and binding.
With the new venture and the addition of Lindsay Noll as Associate Photographer and Creative Director of the business, more space was needed once again. Bill knew where he wanted to look. He missed downtown. He loves the Gothic elements in the architecture of the Medical Arts Building, as well as the ornate lobby. With the street-level space and additional basement space, they had the room they needed for the company’s current incarnation which includes Bill, Grant and Lindsay on site and a group of five additional photographers who work on specific projects. Bill also continues to do interior and exterior architectural photography for Saks Fifth Avenue, often flying to various parts of the country for store openings. He’ll soon be in San Juan for a shoot.
He’s excited to return downtown after several years away: “I love this city and chose to stay here. Knoxville feels like home.” He appreciates the friendliness of people across the city, but feels a special energy downtown that comes from the close proximity to others. Stop by and welcome him, Lindsay and Grant to the neighborhood and, particularly, to Main Street. And check out his work – you will be impressed.