By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN For Linda Motzko and her family, the past 30 years have been filled with picture-perfect memories at Linda’s Photography in Delano.
“It’s been 30 years of connecting with families,” Motzko said. “What we do is so precious and so important.”
She estimates that her studio has done a total of about 35,000 sessions throughout the years.
“I’m starting to do high school senior portraits for the sons and daughters of people I did senior portraits for years ago,” Motzko said. “We like being people’s family photographer.”
From the moment her clients walk through the door, Motzko tries to make them feel at home, offering them chocolate chip cookies and refreshments.
She takes some of her photos at her indoor studio and upstairs “loft” area, while others are taken at what she refers to as “the outback” and the family’s five-acre park.
Motzko’s husband, Chuck, designs all the sets and takes care of the grounds.
“He’s just that kind of guy,” Motzko said. “He likes to create things with his hands.”
“There are at least 100 different sets to choose from,” she added, and Chuck makes new ones every year.
This year, he built a set resembling a large, Spanish building. The other side features an old-fashioned garage, for high school seniors who’d like to include their vehicles in the photos.
Chuck also handles all the business and accounting for the studio, Motzko said.
In addition to three core staff members, Motzko’s children, Megan and Chaz, are also involved in the family business.
Megan, 24, has a two-year photography degree, and Chaz, 28, handles sales, and works with digital art.
Motzko and her daughter attend photography expos and seminars throughout the US, and they are members of several elite photography groups.
“We keep up with the exciting trends,” Motzko said. “We learn from those trends and bring them back to Delano.”
In addition to learning from other professionals, the Motzko family enjoys creating trends of their own.
“Because we build our own sets with hand-painted backgrounds, we have something no other photographer has,” Motzko said.
When Linda’s Photography switched from film to digital, it allowed for more creativity as well, with collages, albums, and storybooks.
“It opened our horizons more,” she said.
Another aspect of Linda’s Photography that sets it apart is the company’s commitment to charitable donations.
“We’re always, always giving,” Motzko said. “That’s something that’s at the heart of our business.”
In the past 30 years, the family has donated more than $250,000.
“We do huge fundraisers,” Motzko said. Throughout October, the studio is offering children’s sessions free with a $25 donation toward breast cancer research.
In the spring, the studio brings in bunnies and lambs for children’s photographs, with session fees donated to the Children’s Cancer Research Fund.
“We believe very much in giving back to charities,” Motzko said.
Motzko is also the official photographer for an upcoming show of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, a reality television series providing home renovations for families that have faced hardship such as a natural disaster or illness.
“That’s really an honor,” Motzko said. She took pictures at the cast kick-off party recently, and will finish with the photography work for the St. Paul home Friday, Oct. 9.
“Even after 30 years, I still love my job,” Motzko said. By photographing the happy times in people’s lives, families can have memories to look at that can help them get through challenging times that may lie ahead, she said.
Motzko put it this way: “How many professions are able to give people memories to hold and cherish forever?”