Andover Action Photos, a business which specializes in sports photography and action posters, was started in 2006 by Andover moms Tracy Layne and Linda Hughes.
“How can you not want a cool picture?” said Layne. She remembers how difficult it was trying to get that perfect shot of her son playing football with her Rebel camera.
But then, she would see always Hughes, with her professional camera, getting better results.
Hughes said she always wanted to go into business. Although she considered herself an amateur photographer, she increasingly bought better equipment and practiced with her three children.
Although Layne and Hughes only knew of each other when their kids were at Sanborn, they found commonality through sports and photography. They are now best of friends.
“Linda is the absolute genius on the technical part, and I do the marketing and promotion. We both shoot pictures, but we have very specific roles and jobs,” Layne explained.
Hughes said that she has been taking pictures since college and remembers using her father’s German camera. She explained the more you shoot, the better you get. Layne, who grew up with sports, pointed out that you develop a sense of when to shoot.
Lighting is always a challenge in photography and that is why most parents who have their Canon Rebels or point or shoot cameras cannot capture their children scoring the crucial run or the emotional moment of winning, according to Layne. Hughes uses a Canon Mark 2D with a 300, 2.8 lens and Layne uses a 400 lens.
"We can do what they (the parents) can’t do, and if you don’t capture the moment, then it’s gone," said Layne.
The business, which started by word of mouth in Andover has steadily increased through the years, explained Layne. In addition to school sports teams in the Merrimack Valley, their clients include Brookline Boy's Basketball, Malden High School, Bentley College, Phillips Exeter, and A and M Yastrzemski Events, LLC.
Anne Marie Yastrzemski's company runs a summer rivalry baseball tournament, and their All Star team gets to compete at Fenway park.
“It is a thrill to shoot at Fenway,” said Layne.
Hughes feels the same way about the TD Garden and has taken many photos at State basketball games.
She said that Andover Action Photos limits their products to posters, with sizes ranging from 8x10 to 24x26. Describing it as a keepsake that the athlete will always have, the poster themes offered include Inspiration, All-Action, One Star, Team and Custom. Layne and Hughes will also create a poster with photos taken by others.
Parents can request individual shoots for a fee but most are done through the team, explained Layne.
She also pointed out that many of their poster ideas have evolved through requests by parents. While one mother said she wanted to see words of inspiration on the poster, a grandmother requested to see more emotion.
Michael Pierce, who graduated in 2008, was a quarterback for the Andover High School Football team. Layne said Pierce's grandmother wanted a poster to show Mike's emotions, as well as his actions during a game. To accomplish this, she said took a photo during the National Anthem because she saw the intense look on Pierce's face. The photo was then centered in the poster and surrounded by action shots of the day. The style has been since dubbed the "Grandma Pierce Poster", and it is a very popular choice, according to Layne.
Andover Action Photos has repeat business and the women have taken photos of the same children through the years. They have recently developed a poster that has the younger athlete next to its older counterpart.
Both Hughes and Layne said Fall is a busy time for them, and many parents buy posters as holiday gifts.
Hughes explained the changing leaves make excellent backdrops. The Andover Junior Football League is now in full swing, and both Hughes and Layne enjoy taking photos of the young athletes.
Summing up the past 6 years, Layne said, “It’s been fun. We are both creative, and we just create."
Andover Action Photos can be contacted through their website or by calling Tracy Hughes at 978-387-4334.