Bruce Hudson of Renton has been in the photography business for over four decades, and thanks to the multi-generational relationships he has built and maintained, it doesn’t look like he will slow down anytime soon.
“My clients are the type where they’ll say, ‘You can’t retire until Suzy is married.’ I photograph their weddings, then their baby portraits and then the senior photos,” said Hudson. “My clients are really passionate about our relationship. I am the family photographer.”
While Hudson’s talent behind the lens has been apparent since he was a teen taking pictures at family functions, it was his family that helped shape his business, leading him to become one of the top professional photographers in the Pacific Northwest.
“I played around with it in junior high school, and during my sophomore year, I took a photography class. I took a lot of pictures of my high school sweetheart, Sue,” said Hudson, who attended Kent-Meridian High School where he and Sue played in band together. “She was my muse and we were married for 20 years.”
The two were married at 20 and 21, and while Sue worked for the city of Renton, Hudson was a band director at Tahoma High School for four years.
Hudson would photograph weddings on the weekends to make extra money and, in August 1982, the pair quit their jobs to open their first studio at Fairwood Shopping Center.
“I was the flaky artist and she ran the business,” said Hudson with a laugh.
As their family grew with the introduction of their children Josh and McKenna, Hudson’s Portrait Studio grew as well. Over the years, Hudson has photographed about 1,200 weddings, one of the furthest ones being Omiya, near Tokyo in Japan. He joined the elite Cameracraftsmen of America and won many photography awards. The Hudsons began traveling the world, lecturing and sharing their business success with other professionals. Their business thrived, but sadly, Sue died in 1996 after a long battle with cancer.
While Sue’s work with the business was a foundation for its success, her legacy at Hudson’s Portrait Studio has lived on with their son Josh, who was born three months after the first studio opened and is now the business’s operations manager and marketing director.
“It’s come full circle. Josh has been working with me for 12 to 13 years and he took over his mom’s role,” said Hudson.
Since Josh took over for Sue, Hudson began teaching photography workshops, which proved to be another success.
“I originally was not excited, but Josh said it would be a good idea,” Hudson said, “Looking at it now, half of our newest clients were in one of my classes.”
Hudson’s expertise in making strong connections with his students and his clients has earned him the nickname “The Relationographer,” which Hudson has used for his two books: “The Relationographer: The Art of Relationship Marketing” in 2006 and “The Relationographer 2.0: The Art Of Relationship Marketing” in 2018.
“I will likely update to 3.0,” he said.
For now, Hudson will continue working with apertures, ISOs and aspect ratios.
“One of my mentors was working until he was 87 years old,” said Hudson. “With this type of job, it’s kind of ‘not working’ working.”
And with more weddings, baby portraits and senior portraits needing to be photographed with each new generation, Hudson Portrait Studio will be there.