'It was time': After 50 years, iconic Hazard business closing

Published: May. 3, 2019 at 3:18 PM EDT
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Since 1966, Gordon’s Photo Center has been a place where the beauty and the history of the region are saved. For more than 50 years owner Paul Gordon spent his days photographing, framing, working on film and so much more.

Gordon photographed events ranging from the Kentucky Derby to various speeches of presidents. The old saying goes ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ but the photos Gordon takes do much more - they tell a story.

“I think I've photographed five presidents. The FBI told me with Clinton I shouldn't say shot – it’s photographed,” Gordon said laughing.

He bumped shoulders and photographed stars such as Dolly Parton, all while remaining humble to his roots.

“I've just really enjoyed doing photography,” he said. “I loved people coming in here with pictures that look horrible, old pictures and I work with them and make them good again and I bring back memories. The best thing I can get is somebody look at a picture crying because it looked so good.”

In recent years, the digital age has taken a toll on his business. Last year he had to stop processing film photos as his passion slowly became obsolete.

“Technology has taken over. I tell people I'm a pilot and do aerial photography in the helicopter and I've been replaced with a drone and a phone,” Gordon added.

At 72-years-old, Gordon is ready to retire. With his building recently sold, he will close the doors to his shop on May 24.

“I'm going to miss all this but it was time to retire and slow down a little bit,” he added. “Oh I'm going to miss it terribly bad, I'm going to be lost.”

He was waiting for the building to be sold before closing, that way the memory of the building would always be around.

“I just couldn't stand to see something that I worked so hard for to deteriorate,” Gordon said.

After about 30 years without a vacation, Gordon says he is going to take his wife Teresa and his dog Abby on a much-needed road trip. Visiting places like the Florida Keys and Niagara Falls.

“I've always tried to take care of people and help them with their problems and do the best work I can,” he said.

After all decades of business, he said he is thankful for his customers and still plans to live here in Hazard. He just will be taking a few more vacations.