Clare County Review & Marion Press

Faces in the Crowd: Judy K. Gilde

Growing up on a dairy farm just south of McBain, Judy [Meyering] Gilde was taught the importance of a hard day’s work.
And as a child, Judy earned her first camera by working for it: riding her bike around the neighborhood, selling gift wrap and cards from the CURRENT company.
Many years, and many cameras later, Judy maintains that work ethic shooting professional photography for local families, students, schools, and businesses through her company Judy K. Gilde Photography, with her studio located at 1630 Blue Road in McBain.
And her favorite family to photograph might just be her own. Along with her husband Ken, Judy loves spending time with her kids – Cainen, Kyle, and Alex – and their 8 grandchildren. Cainen’s wife Kelly has also played a huge role in helping the photography company grow, working as a part-time assistant and editing artist.
Judy’s church family also plays a big role in making her life whole. A member of Lucas Rehoboth Reformed Church, Judy finds time in between grandkids’ sporting events and photoshoots to participate in the church’s handbell choir.
We caught up with Judy where we learned a little bit more about her story. We learned that Judy Gilde is certainly more than just another face in the crowd.
Marion Press: Where were you born and raised? What kept you busy growing up?
Judy: McBain. I grew up on a dairy farm a mile south of McBain – our farm was about a quarter of a mile south of Meyering Road on Morey Road. I’m the youngest of five children – I have four older [Meyering] brothers and sisters and they’re all living. I graduated in ’77. It was fun being involved in sports and the music program, and band. I used to be in the high school choir and played coronet or trumpet in the band. I was senior class president, very involved in school.
MP: Were you into photography as a kid? How’d you get into that?
Judy: I liked photography as a little girl on the farm. I got my first camera by pedaling my bike up and down the road – from riding around to the neighbors and selling gift wrap and cards from the CURRENT company. You’d sell so many items and you could get a camera or another reward. So that was my first camera. I was probably 10 or 12 years old maybe. It was a plastic piece of junk! But it got me started. Then I got a Kodak 126 as a Christmas gift from my parents when I was a teen.
When I graduated high school, I was salutatorian of my class and I was dating [Ken] my husband, so it was pretty much understood that I needed to go to college. So I went to Ferris, and went into the radiology program and became an X-ray tech. That was taking pictures, but also in health care, and I wanted to go into health care. I mainly specialized in mammography as an x-ray tech, because my mom had breast cancer. So that was kind of my mission in life: the early detection of breast cancer.
So I worked at Cadillac Mercy Hospital, and Munson Hospital in Traverse City until 2006.
I always did photography on the side, along with doing x-rays. When I was in college, doing my internship in Traverse City, my husband – when we were still dating – he bought me my first real camera, which was a Pentax K 1000 film camera. That was in 1979. Later I purchased a used Canon A2E from Dr. Danek early in my x-ray career. Dr. Danek taught me a lot about cameras and photography, as did Dr. Cover – a radiologist – while working 27 years in x-rays.
MP: So you spent much of your career in health care, when did you start doing photography more full-time?
Judy: Ken and I have 3 boys – Cainen, Kyle, and Alex – and I was always at all of their events with a camera. Then friends of ours from the events would always ask if they could get pictures from me, and so it just kind of evolved. It got to the point where I had to start charging something because it was just taking up so much of my time.
In 2006, when our son Kyle was going to start medical school at the University of Michigan, he had a baby, and I decided that it was time to be done with x-ray and help with grandkids and just be more available for kids and grandkids.
That gave me more time to actually work on photography, and it’s evolved into what it is today.
MP: Tell us a little bit about your company. What all does Judy K. Gilde Photography have to offer?
Judy: We do families, and senior pictures, and children’s portraits. Right now our priority is schools, and sports teams, and action sports. We do school pictures, and individual and school sports. And I do photos for quite a few businesses – CEOs, executives, and board members. Our studio/station is kind of unique, and people like to come to that. It’s kind of nostalgic looking, and it’s a fun place for people to come for pictures. It looks like a Sinclair Gas Station on the outside.
MP: What do you enjoy the most about your work?
Judy: Mostly, what I like the best is just being out with people. Just being involved with the community and being with people. I also like that I have control from the start through the final outcome. I’m kind of a perfectionist, so we have printers that we print on ourselves, we do all of the processing. What people get isn’t just what comes out of the camera. We spend a lot of time color correcting, and setting the exposures. I like the creative part of it, and I like having control from start to finish over what the client gets.
MP: What do you enjoy the most about being part of the local community?
Judy: Probably just being a part of the community, and often times it’s like, ‘Hey, I did their wedding and now they have three kids.’ So just being a part of making those memories special for them. ‘Hey, Judy did my senior pictures, and our engagement pictures, and our wedding pictures, and our first maternity pictures…’ Just creating those relationships with families over those big milestones that happened in their life. Helping everybody create memories for a lifetime.
MP: What advice would you have for someone wanting to get into photography?
Judy: Study, study. Practice, practice, practice. Still, almost every minute I’m editing photos, I’m watching videos on YouTube, and printing off manuals. I constantly want the latest and greatest technology for software and hardware. Never stop learning – stay up on the latest techniques. If you’re not passionate about it, you’ll give up. It’s a huge time commitment, and even the physical amount of work it takes – up, down, packing, unpacking, hauling equipment – is a lot of work.

One Reply to “Faces in the Crowd: Judy K. Gilde

  1. Thank you Judy for all you do for our community, we always cherish the family photos you take. You make this world a better place.

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