Helga Welter, Leica Shooter for 50 Years

The General-Anzeiger in Bonn, Germany reports (in German) "Photographer for 50 Years in Aegidienberg" - an inspiring story about Helga Welter, who 50 years ago bought an M2 and gained her independence by starting her own photography business, still shooting with it today!

The translation of the article into English (via Google) with a lot of corrections:

AEGIDIENBERG. Hard to believe, but in a former cowshed Helga Welter founded exactly 50 years ago her ​​photo shop and gained independence. She spoke with the trained photographer and dedicated businesswoman Claudia Sülzen about its origins and development.

How did it come about, starting your business back then?
Welter: I was married, had two children of one and two years. And my husband had to move into a new apartment in Aegidienberg for work. It was too cumbersome to drive everyday in wind and weather with the moped to Honnef, where I was at that time still employed as a photographer. After I had the kids in kindergarten one morning, the idea came up: What should I work as?

The solution lay not far away and yet was unusual?
Welter: On Aegidiusplatz stood a barn with adjoining laundry room of the inn Cremerius. Without further ado, I asked the landlord if I could rent this house. After a moment of surprise, he agreed. My husband and my brother made plans. I went several times to Siegburg board of works, until I received the building permit. Simple and straightforward, with no comparison to today. I received the approved planning application.

What were the reactions?
Welter: Of course that was a special event. I can remember it very well, even to the skepticism of many citizens, whether a camera store in Aegidienberg makes sense. There were very many events, but always positive. And as for the development of my business, I could not shake that easily.

Your first purchase was a camera?
Welter: My first achievement for independence was a Leica M2, although it was very expensive for me at the time. But I am used to taking pictures with the Leica, as there was no alternative. I still have the Leica today.

Your archive is huge?
Welter: I have archived about 50,000 negatives. Aegidienberg has been developed extensively since the foundation of the business. At that time the place had about 1,700 inhabitants, and today there are around 7,300 inhabitants. I have been able to witness many developments.

Photography alone was not enough?
Welter: As a photography business it could not endure alone, so I added a travel agency, and later toys, stationery, tobacco and newspapers. And when the Aegidienberg post office closed in 2000, we then also established a post shop, now of course the new site is on Mark-Hovel Road.

So retirement is out of the question?
Welter: If my health permits, I will continue working as long as possible. My son, who is to take over the business, is a pool attendant in the city of Cologne. If I have to stop, he would give up his job. But that is not open to debate.

Bottom line, as this report concludes in your anniversary year?
Welter: I was always happy, I have kept my good mood, that's important. But above all, I love to work and I am glad that there is always a kind word from the customers.


You can see a lot more photos and read more about her in another article, "Helga Welter with her ​​photography business has been successful for 50 years in Aegidienberg" (English).