Monday, November 5, 2012

The World Through a Lens-Brad LaPayne Photography

Brad began taking pictures with a Kodak instamatic camera when he was eight years old.  As a sophomore, he bought his first 35mm camera, and completed several classes in photography. He also worked for the Daily Illini photo department. After receiving his degree, Brad became a photographer for a large church directory company doing hundreds of portraits weekly.
 A year later, he made an unusual career move - becoming a firefighter for the city of Champaign Fire Department.  He used nearly all of his off duty time to do photography and attend art shows at which he sold the photographs.  Much of his early work was shooting skylines in Chicago and New York City.  Being a sports fan, he approached several professional teams and was allowed to shoot the stadiums.  Building upon early successes in the sports world with the New York Mets and the Chicago Cubs, sports became an area of concentration. 
Mr. LaPayne has done panoramic photographs for many historic sports events such as:  World Series, NBA Finals, Final Fours, Super Bowls, 1996 Olympic Games, Opening Days and Nights.    Images have been published by Time magazine and several sports books.  Several of his images of “Ground Zero” in New York were published by the NY Times and one was published as a 2 page spread in a NY Times book (A Nation Challenged) and they have been placed in several 9/11 museums.
In 1995, he received the largest photo assignment of his life.  He was hired by South African Airways to photograph some of their travel destinations in the panoramic format.  He traveled for 32 days to locations in the USA, Germany, UK, Switzerland and South Africa.  More recently, he has photographed the 2009 and 2012 Super Bowl for NBC Sports and did a crew photo for them.  

To view the entire interview with Brad LaPayne CLICK HERE

Homer Soda Company Has a Legacy to Live Up To.

Kate Boyer (of Homer Soda Company) comes from a long line of entrepreneurs

Kate Boyer has only known life as a part of a motorcycle entrepreneurial family.  Starting with her great-grandparents, her entire family has been motorcycle enthusiasts for more than 100 years.  Her grandfather, Clyde "Bud" Vetter, was the first one to be an entrepreneur.  He opened a Schwinn bicycle shop in Rantoul, and later opened Champaign Cycle, on Mattis Ave in Champaign.  Her uncle, Craig Vetter, founded the Vetter Fairing Company in Rantoul.  He began with an idea to produce quality fairings for motorcycles.  He started making a few in an old meat locker building in Rantoul.  The business grew exponentially and he built it to be a large facility on the east edge of Rantoul.  
Her father, Bruce Vetter, started a little different in 1967 while living "in a van down by the river".  He painted peace symbols on rocks and sold them to the college kids in Champaign.  It was very successful and he moved into a building in downtown Champaign, making artistic leather goods with his hands.  In the late 1970's, Bruce decided to go bigger and started "Bagman", making motorcycle luggage.  His factory on north Prospect was very successful and provided jobs for 80 employees.  He sold the business in 1983 to Bell Helmets in Rantoul, intending to retire, but 3 years later Harley-Davidson asked if he could design and produce a saddle bag to go on a style of bike as it came off the assembly line.  25 years later, we are still producing products for Harley-Davidson in our small factory with about 10 employees in Homer.  
Rob Boyer, Kate's husband, has been running the facility for the last 14 years.  He has grown the company significantly since he first began.  Bruce now spends his time producing the artistic products that first propelled him into business.
Kate has done almost every job over the years.  She started with shipping/receiving when she was 13, payroll when she was 15, and then managing the office by the time she was 19.  After working for more than 15 years in manufacturing, Kate was a little bored by it.
In 2008, her and her mother, Kelly Vetter, opened "Village Wardrobe" a children's consignment boutique in downtown Homer and then another one on the square in Monticello.  In 2009, they bought the Homer Soda Company from Ray and Christine Cunningham.  They have expanded the soda business from just a retail location in downtown Homer, to distributing their varieties all across the country.  
The unexpected success of the Homer Soda Company has caused them to sell their retail stores and focus just on the sodas.
Bruce and Kelly, Rob and Kate, and their 5 children all enjoy working together in the family business.

To watch the entire TV interview with Kate Boyer CLICK HERE