If a picture is worth a thousand words, Gittings Photography has captured millions and millions since its founding in 1928. Over the course of 93 years, the operation has grown to four portrait studios across Texas, and has a client rolodex that includes U.S. presidents, professional athletes, business tycoons and Hollywood icons. But it’s not just the famous faces that have earned Gittings its industry prominence, it’s the company’s dedication to its craft.
According to Rick Bettinger, president and owner of the Dallas and Fort Worth studios, Gittings utilizes the same practices for training their photographers that Paul Gittings implemented when he first opened the Dallas studio during the Great Depression. These fundamentals, which include everything from operating cameras manually to lighting to posing the human form, have not changed despite the advancements of camera technology. And such advancements, while critical, have made equipment more accessible and simpler to operate thus lowering the barrier of entry into the field.
“Because the digital camera is easy to use and gives you a decent photograph set on auto, it allows people to enter the profession easily. There’s a lot more people that enter and exit the profession than ever before,” notes Bettinger, a second-generation photographer whose tenure with Gittings spans three decades. Because of this evolution in the industry, established studios like Gittings are not as prevalent as they once were.
But if you’ve lived in Fort Worth for some time, you’ve likely encountered Gittings’ work. Whether hanging on the wall of a family’s living room or inside a corporate office, Bettinger and his team are known for creating classic portraits, both personal and professional, that capture the essence of their clients. In fact, it’s customary for a Gittings photographer to meet with their clients prior to shooting so they can establish a relationship with their subjects. Bettinger says this is key to creating an exceptional portrait.
Gittings expanded to Fort Worth in the 1960s when Mr. Gittings opened a studio inside the Neiman Marcus originally located on Green Oaks Road. Eventually Bettinger purchased the North Texas studios and set up shop on Camp Bowie where the studio operated for 27 years until a recent move to W 5th Street between Bailey Avenue and University.
“It’s a building that was built in 2006 as an interior design showroom so the design work is phenomenal. And this new location enables us to serve our clients a little better,” said Bettinger. His studio has long supported philanthropic causes and provides photography for many of Fort Worth’s most notable organizations such as the Fort Worth Opera, Fort Worth Symphony, Junior League and Jewel Charity Ball.
Gittings is an institution, beautifully capturing moments for almost 100 years. And these moments, preserved as negatives since the company’s founding, have created a museum-quality archive that is a perfect time capsule of human life. Bettinger considers it his purpose to create an archival piece of art for a family or individual that will be displayed for generations. Because each portrait tells a story. And like Paul Gittings once said, “Portrait photography is a tool for recording the story we try to tell posterity – a story not of features alone, but of the human force behind those features.”
Although she prefers burnt orange to purple, Hannah Bush is happy to call Fort Worth her new home. She began freelance writing a few years ago to break up the monotony of her 9 to 5, and to prove to her parents that she’s making good use of her journalism degree. When she’s not hanging out with her cat, Hannah can likely be found on a patio with her husband, talking about her cat.