Over its 100 years, A.E. Cross Studio in Lethbridge has seen the faces of thousands of families.
“I might just meet someone, a young couple that had been married, and they’d say, ‘Oh, you did my grad pictures. I need to come in — we’re having a baby,’” said Peter Etches, owner of A.E. Cross Studio.
The studio was established in 1922 by Alfred Ernest Cross, who did family portraits and commercial photography. His son Reginald took over in the 1940s, later selling to Ed Keeling in the 1970s, who was an employee at the time.
“Ed Keeling was the one who I bought the studio from in 2005, so it’s not too far removed from the early days,” Etches said.
Etches describes photographers as having the power to freeze time during life’s milestones.
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“When you put something on your wall, you want it to be good,” Etches said. “You want it to be the very best. You want to be able to be proud of your family.”
In 2011, Etches donated more than 300,000 photos to the Galt Museum and Archives.
Belinda Crowson, president of the Lethbridge Historical Society, said these collections are invaluable for research.
“I was putting together a history of Hardieville, and some of the only pictures we have of people in Hardieville come from A.E. Cross Collections,” she said. “They come from the portraits they paid to get in the 20s, 30s and 40s.”
Crowson said she hopes to see established studios like A.E. Cross stick around in a world of smartphone cameras.
“Photography has that ability to get the right light and the right image and to tell a story that is so much more in-depth,” she said.
“We’re here to be able to give the very best,” Etches said. “Memories — we can make them last forever.”
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