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LETTER: Remembering Frank Hasenfratz

A simple favour turned into years of business and friendship for local Guelph photographer
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GuelphToday received the following letter from Ross Davidson-Pilon regarding Frank Hasenfratz:

The Day I Met Frank Hasenfratz…

It was 1982 and I had just opened my first photography studio in a dark basement at the end of a long hall in an old building in downtown Guelph. My location was of little consequence I was primarily shooting corporate work for high tech industry in Kitchener and Cambridge and doing a lot of location assignments.

It was a slow day in the middle of a slow week when I got a phone call from a local camera store that they had a customer who needed a small head shot for a Hungarian document and could I help him out. A few minutes later a well-dressed man appeared at my door and gave me the dimensions of the images required with the emphasis that he needed the photos "right away," which proved to be a consistent theme with Frank.

I explained I really didn’t do this kind of work and I didn’t even own a passport camera but we could try to shoot a proportionally- sized image with a very large and awkward commercial camera using sheets of instant Polaroid film. After about an hour of lighting, composing, processing and trimming ( including critiques on how I made his face look fat ) we finally had a couple of finished prints. He asked how much he owed and I replied “it’s free” and the next time he needed a product photo to give me a call.

I was new to Guelph and had very little knowledge of the Linamar Corporation or for that matter the name Hasenfratz. What followed over the next 20 plus years was a wonderful and rich experience recording the corporate events of a growing industrial giant and especially sharing the personal celebrations of a loving family.

Frank was brilliant at recognizing talent and encouraging perfection from everyone he employed. He also never forgot a favour.

I have shared this story with generations of high school co-op placements and now as a teacher at Ryerson University with all of my semestered photography students.

"When in business and in life the things you give away are often far more valuable than the things you take in."

What impressed me the most about Frank was his love and dedication to the people closest to him. I had the pleasure of witnessing the growth and development of a loving family. From weddings to annual portraits with the grandkids, I shared some of the most cherished events in Frank and Margaret's life…they were a great team.

I consider it a privilege and an honour to have met such a wonderful and talented man who has passed on his drive, dedication and especially his family values to everyone who had the pleasure to meet him.

Ross Davidson-Pilon