Imagining Possibilities: Meet Bob Perzel

AUTHORED BY COLE STERR

“When I walk into a space, I see pictures before I even take them.”

Meet one of our photographers: Bob Perzel. As a commercial photographer who has been in the business for more than 30 years, Perzel travels from coast to coast (as well as internationally) capturing the architectural beauty of the exteriors and interiors of office spaces, skyscrapers, industrial buildings, and other sites.

Target Field and Ford Center
Photo of Target Field (left) and the Ford Center (right), taken by Bob Perzel

Snapshot of the Past

His story begins at 14 years old when he had received his first camera, a Canon. After experimenting with different types of cameras, Perzel then went on to study photography at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Later, he joined the Marine Corps and went to work for a delivery firm soon after, eventually investing his passion into his own photography business. By day, he was a professional photographer, but by night, he was a delivery guy.

Getting started with the photography business and gaining clients wasn’t a walk in the park, Perzel remembers. For example, as Perzel was looking for clients, he had called the head of marketing at the Mall of America for over a year. His phone calls started out once a month for five to six months, and then he started calling every couple of weeks. Those couple of weeks turned in to every week and then eventually every day. Perzel was told that he was one of the “most persistent photographers” by the head of marketing, and ultimately, landed the client. “A ‘no’ is one step closer to a ‘yes’,” Perzel said, “…persistence pays off.”

The Meat and Potatoes of His Work

Perzel says that his favorite sites to photograph are well-designed, colorful office and commercial spaces. He loves to see architects stretch their creativity and having the chance to capture that creativity in a photograph “sets him on fire,” especially interior spaces. He also says that these spaces are the most challenging to photograph. Calling it the “meat and potatoes” of his photography work, interiors are the most difficult because of the variety of lighting that the space reflects, which then affects how the photo is produced. Controlling and managing the lighting so that the space looks as it should be is critical to not only taking a photograph, but the editing process as well.

Having produced nearly half a million film negatives and possessing over 7 terabytes of storage (that’s 7,000 gigabytes!), Perzel dedicates the necessary time to ensure a client is happy. With an extensive editing process that can take 16 hours up to a week, “pleasing the client is the biggest thing you have to do [as a photographer],” Perzel told me.

Imagining a Future

Perzel doesn’t do it alone, of course. His wife, Lynn, has been a pivotal team player with the photography business. Lynn is the office manager and handles all the books, taxes, and paper work for the business, complementing Perzel as his “rock.” According to Perzel, if it weren’t for Lynn, this business wouldn’t be around.

With no vision of retirement, Perzel will continue to pursue his photography passion, continuously imagining the possibilities of how different architectural spaces can be photographed and shared with the world.

A further look at Perzel’s photography can be viewed on his website.