After more than four decades of taking pictures, Jim Herren has shot it all. Herren recently retired from his role as an official photographer of the St. Louis Cardinals and has met at least five presidents and several celebrities along the way. He still operates his own studio in his native Collinsville, where he recently sat down to talk with business writer Will Buss about his business:
When did you join the team?
How did that come about?
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“Joe Cunningham was starting with a group sales program. I don’t know if you ever noticed that down on the field before a game they’d have all kinds of sponsors and everybody would come down and take pictures and so forth and they’d have ceremonies before games. Well, they were looking for a photographer and the guy that they picked out just didn’t pan out with them. And I was supposed to be helping him. What happened was he just didn’t work out, he didn’t show up and a few things happened and Joe called me on the phone. I’ll never forget it. Danny Thomas was down there and the guy that I was supposed to be working for, he never did tell me that I was supposed to cover for him, and so Joe got really irate over that situation. So Joe calls me on the phone and I told him my story. I said that I never got a call from anybody here. And he said, ‘I’ve got news for you. Come on down. You’re the new photographer.’ And I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I don’t have the equipment. I’ve got to think about funds here.’ Everything hit me at one time. And so finally, I thought, what do I have to lose? I was always an adventurous guy, anyway. So I just went out and spent a ton of money. I got some lenses, and I never dreamed I’d be there 44 years.”
What are some of your favorite memories shooting photos for the Cardinals?
“I would not know where to start. First of all, I know the first World Series in ’82, I had butterflies in my stomach. Everything was floating, but it was good journey and we won. I got partially trampled down...I got knocked down about two or three times. But it was a good knock down, you know?”
When you retired from the club, did the team give you a proper send off?
“They did. They threw a big, big party for me and invited numerous amount of people there for me, and they told me that I could throw out the first pitch. They just rolled out the carpet. It was just unbelievable.”
What are doing now that you don’t spend time at the ballpark during baseball season?
“Now that I’m at home with my wife, I’m just trying to save the divorce. No. Really, it’s an adjustment. Sometimes you’d be walking through there and they would be a television on watching the game and then all of the sudden, wow, you still get butterflies in you that you’re supposed to be at the ballpark. I leave everyday at about 3 o’clock. I keep thinking, ‘Hey. I’m supposed to be at the ballpark.’ So it’s an adjustment. And the thing that I don’t miss is the many times that I spent ’til 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning getting deadlines out and getting things organized. And the great innovation of computers, they keep you up at night because half of the time they crash and some thing has gone wrong and you try to figure out what happened and where it happened. Good old film was much easier, believe me. Believe me.”
How did you get into photography?
“When I was in high school, I always wanted to be an architect. I was going to go to Ranken (Technical College), and then I had a couple of buddies tell me go to DeVry (University) in Chicago. They said they’ve got a great layout, they came down and talked to me, I signed up and I went. We were working on a project and it was a situation where some place in Canada they had this model bridge...And we were working on that and they told us ‘This is going to be a toughy, boys, so let’s see how sharp you are.’ So it was about a two-three weeks project. When we got done with it, the instructor came in and said, ‘How are you guys doing on that bridge?’ It was an actual bridge some place in Canada that had this design. We were sitting there working on it, figuring it all out, and we were getting to the last beam, and everything was down to scale, even the little bolts that went into that thing. So we put the last bolt in, went over here, put that in, and the guys at the other end, I asked them, and we had that attached. As soon as we pulled the pins out, the whole thing collapsed, and I said ‘I’m out of here.’ I don’t have the temperament to sit there and play with that stuff. So I got a job with a company called Grayson Robinson out of New York, and they sold photographic supplies. So I was working with them, and somebody, I don’t even remember the person’s name anymore, I was delivering goods to the St. Louis Hawks. And when I went in there one day, if I remember right, it was Ben Kerner that said to me, ‘Hey, why don’t you come over and shoot some stuff sometime?’ And I said I don’t know the first thing about photography. I don’t even own a camera. He said, ‘Well, you ought to buy one.’ And so he left it at that. So I went back to the warehouse and told the guys at the warehouse, and they said, ‘Yeah, we’ve got a couple cameras over there that someone returned.’ They said, ‘What do you know about them?’ I said, ‘I don’t know, but I’m going to find out.’ From there on, it just blossomed.”
What has kept you shooting for all these years?
“Passion. Passion for photography.”
Contact reporter Will Buss at email@example.com or 618-239-2526.
Job: Photographer, Herren Photography at 506 St. Louis Road in Collinsville (618-344-2651)