MOUNT VERNON — John and Janis Seavolt gratefully looked back at 40 years of photography, making the transition from film to digital cameras, and doing business as Seavolt’s Studio. It has been such a good 40 years, they plan to continue for many more years.
“We never plan to retire,” stated Janis, “We really enjoy what we do. It’s still fun. We like people and we love animals. When we don’t love it anymore, then we’ll retire.”
Years ago John Seavolt didn’t recognize his aptitude for photography before he joined the National Guard. Testing for the Guard placed him in the photography section and he feels fortunate that his sergeant and mentor was Warren Mott. Mott has since been past president of organizations like The Professional Photographers of America.
For Janis, photography was an early love. “I was the one who liked the camera and the process in grade school,” she said. And it has been a good partnership. Early on, John did the darkroom work because Janis didn’t like being in the dark, and she did the bookwork because he needed to be active.
In 1967, John joined the Mount Vernon Fire Department and served for 25 years. He was a lieutenant and an EMT. The fire department allowed him to take time for military training.
He served in the Ohio National Guard for six years, and the Seavolts married during that time. He also served through a tumultuous period. Shooting aerial photography and portraits of officers, carrying flashbulbs in his pockets and developing each photo in a dark room, he served during the Kent State shootings in 1970, the Ohio Penitentiary outbreak and race riots near Xenia.
“It was a rough time,” John noted.
Janis added, “Instead of a gun in his hand, he had a camera. I was scared for him.”
In the meantime, Janis decided she wanted to be an airline pilot and see the world. She was frustrated when she learned women couldn’t be pilots. Then she decided to settle for traveling as a stewardess. However, when John proposed they agreed it was best she forego those plans.