Ray Flanigan opened in November of 1999 and has been growing ever since. Originally working as a photographer in the 1970s, Flanigan decided in the 1980s to look into framing his photos and expanded from there.
On a recent morning, the traffic flow in and out of Bethel Photoworks was non-stop as customers coming from as far as Riverdale, N.Y. came to have their artwork, diplomas and photographs framed. The shop is located across from the old train station on Depot Place, right next door to and has ample parking.
Flanigan's business includes family and children's portraits, executive and wedding portraits and even passport photos. He also photographs and video tapes sports and special events.
As an artist himself, Flanigan said supporting arts in the community is important to him to keep the arts alive in Bethel. "We used to have the artist center at the old train station and the beautiful space above Greenwood's, but now there isn't anything," Flanigan said.
Flanigan supports the arts in the Bethel community by hosting gallery showings of local artists work in his shop as well as inviting musicians and other artists to perform on occasion. They show art work, photography, sculptures, poster prints and more.
Currently on the Bethel Photoworks showroom floor is a very unique piece called "Gloria." Art enthusiasts will appreciate the beautiful wooden sculpture of the lower half of the female form which was carved out of a piece of wood from Hurricane Gloria.
Bethel Photoworks also has the work of the late Victor Olson of Redding now on display. Flanigan sells prints of the artists' work, as well as original art. Also now on display is photographer Alan Herr's "Jimi Hendrix" from the 1969 New Year's Eve Band of Gypsies show at the Fillmore East.
Blending art, pop culture and scenes of days gone by on the walls of his shop keeps the arts alive in Bethel by allowing patrons to view and purchase the work right off of the walls.
When Bethel Photoworks has gallery openings, his next door neighbor, Michael Bick owner of , caters the events. Bringing in live music also adds to the artistic atmosphere Bethel Photoworks has created.
Flanigan said he is gearing up for the next event, an after-Christmas party. "I get so busy framing around Christmas that we decided to do an after-Christmas party here instead," he said. The invitation-only event includes talented local musicians who play while guests enjoy wine and cheese from Some Things Fishy Catering.
Flanigan is well known in town for his collection of "Old Bethel Photos," a collection of turn of the century downtown photo scenes that he restored and framed which can be viewed and purchased at the new Bethel Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center on Greenwood Avenue. His dye sublimation printing includes photos of P.T. Barnum printed on coffee mugs, mouse pads and T-Shirts, available for purchase at his shop as well as the new Bethel Chamber office.
Selections are also on display at Famous Pizza, Savings Bank of Danbury and Bethel Sunoco.
Something new Flanigan is trying for the new year is called "Honey I Shot the Kids." This allows amateur photographers the opportunity to photograph their own children using professional backgrounds and lighting, with Flanigan's supervision. After the shoot, Bethel Photoworks helps with post production, making the prints and framing the portraits.
"We feel that the child may be more comfortable with their parents shooting the photograph," Flanigan said, "and it's a great learning experience for mom or dad."
From photography to framing to restoring to lessons, Flanigan does it all. Stop by his shop anytime between 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday or from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturdays to see his extensive selection of frames, prints and artwork. Bethel Photoworks also has a website and the phone number is 203-748- 1999.