Jim Todd in a helicopter - AZ Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

Jim Todd Never Dreamed He Would Be The Valley’s Main Aerial Photographer

Jim Todd
Todd Photographic Services
Title: President
Est: 1990  |  www.toddphoto.com

“We’re the only aerial photographer in town that can shoot it, process it, print it, mount it, frame it and get it out the door same day — and that’s huge.” – Jim Todd

When Jim Todd began Todd Photographic Services 20 years ago out of his home, he never dreamed that one day he’d be the main aerial photographer in the Valley. When the economy collapsed as soon as he bought his current 9,000-square-foot building, that accomplishment seemed even less likely.

“Everyone struggled with the recession, but we had this extra burden,” Todd says. “Just the little things, like new business cards and letterheads, add up. The cost really increased and yet the revenue was decreasing. It was a real struggle.”

But Todd found ways to get by. He cut back from 12 employees to three. He rents out the 3,000 square feet upstairs in his building. And, most significantly, he increased the number of services available.

“We thought, ‘let’s bump it up,’” he says. “Let’s create a unique solution to everyone’s photographic needs.”

Today, in addition to aerial photography, Todd Photographic Services provides custom framing, custom photo finishing, mounting and laminating, architectural photography, graphic design, portraits, and custom wall murals. Plus, the building houses an art gallery. Now that things are starting to turn around, Todd hopes to start hiring back some of the employees he had to let go.

“It breaks my heart that I had to do it, and now I want to start bringing people back one at a time because we’re picking up,” he says.

Despite all of the new services the company now offers, Todd’s favorite part is still taking the aerial photographs.

“I just find it tranquil,” he acknowledges. “It’s just beautiful, and it’s the biggest part of our income. The biggest part of our income is the thing I like to do the most — how lucky am I?”

Very lucky indeed to have survived so many challenges in only the last two years. In fact, Todd considers the simple fact that the company is still standing to be one of its greatest achievements.

“Two years ago, our greatest achievement would have been different,” he states. “But becoming king of the hill and keeping our doors open is enormous. The other thing is having a good reputation. A reputation’s a hard thing to get.”

Todd attributes a lot of his success to being located in Arizona, with its weather being perfectly conducive to aerial photography. Another bonus is the rate at which Arizona is growing and houses are being built, even with the recession, which leads to more architectural photography opportunities.

“We build more homes than anywhere else in the country,” he notes. “People want to live here.”

With all that Todd Photographic Services accomplished during the recession, the possibilities for the company are endless now that things are starting to look up.

Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010