Earlier this year Hooper, a commercial photographer, started Diversified Image Recovery, a business that chronicles family treasures, old photographs and important documents should something happen to them.
Hooper said the idea for the business came to him when he was employed by Time Warner Cable. One day at work, Hooper said, a coworker came in smelling of smoke. It turns out the co-worker’s home was destroyed when an old belt broke in her dryer. The fire started in the dryer, catching the clothes aflame before spreading through the home.
Hooper said his co-worker “lost everything,” including all of the photographs of her mother and father and her children – as well as important documents she had on file in her home.
He said hearing that “really hit home.” Hooper knew with his background in photography, he could make sure that doesn’t happen to anyone else.
“In this day and age, there is no need for that to be happening,” Hooper said. “I started this business with that thought in mind. I felt I could work with people and help them preserve their home photos and important documents.”
As part of the business, Hooper goes into a home and takes pictures of its interior and exterior, as well as important valuables inside. Those images are then put on a USB stick or a Cloud server, where they are preserved for perpetuity.
“I encourage people to record the inside and outside of their homes, because you just never know what could happen,” he said.
Documenting heirlooms and other important items could be particularly important, Hooper said, when children are cleaning out the home of a relative who recently passed away.
“It helps the children in regards to finding certain documents that need to be found. If they know this stuff is up on a Cloud server or on a USB stick, they know where to find it when they need it,” Hooper said.
Hooper said he can also inventory what people have before they move to help ensure their belongings are not damaged or lost in transition.
While much of the items he documents are photographs and paperwork, Hooper said recently he took pictures of a 200-yearold rocking chair from Ireland for a client.
“It was one of the only possessions of that person that came over other than some clothing,” Hooper said. “It’s been documented as an antique and it’s been documented with a value of several thousand dollars. It is located in South Portland right now.”
Hooper, who was born on Prince Edward Island in Canada, but was educated in Maine, said he enjoys hearing the stories behind the photographs and other valuables he documents.
“You get these snippets from people. It’s very interesting because it shows lineage. It is a item or story that has been passed down the lines.”
Hooper, who operates J. Allen Photography, a photography studio specializing in special event photography and real estate photos, said he learned to love photography when he was a young boy in the 1960s.
“I got into photography back in fifth grade when they first came out with the Polaroid,” he said. “We had a substitute teacher one day and she decided she was going to teach us about photography and art.”
“She was showing, in her own way, things like lighting and composition. That always stuck with me,” Hooper added.
From there, Hooper always had a camera nearby.
“Over the years I have done a lot of traveling. I have traveled to Europe, Canada and throughout the United States and always had a camera with me,” he said.
Digital photography has helped amateur and professional photographers document important life events and memories much better than film did.
“Film was a dinosaur, and we all know what happened to the dinosaurs. Unfortunately with film comes age and when pictures age you lose quality and it fades,” Hooper said.
Although he specializes in real estate photography and takes a lot of photographs of special events, Hooper said during his free time, he does a lot of still life, landscape, floral and abstract photography.
“I like what I do and I am good at it,” he said.
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