Ulmer Photo, located at 182 West Adams Street in Stockton. (Courtesy Photo)

Behind The Lens: The Story Of Tim Ulmer

Yellow Line

In the vibrant cityscape of Stockton, countless stories thrive, and few can chronicle these narratives as vividly as local business owner and prolific community event photographer, Tim Ulmer.

Running Ulmer Photo on West Adams Street, he has become an integral part of the city he deeply loves, honored numerous times for his contributions.

Ulmer’s extensive honors include the 2014 Stocktonian of the Year, the 2015 Edison High School Community Involvement Award, the Lifetime Achievement Photo Trade Industry Award, the 2022 City of Stockton Small Business Award, and most recently, the Citizen Recognition Award from the Stockton Police and Fire Departments. This year, he will also be serving as the Grand Marshall of Stockton’s Fourth of July Parade.

His robust presence at community events and his extensive work in support of local non-profits is well known to many. "I’ve spent 20-25 hours a week for the last 20 plus years supporting 30 or more local non-profits by taking photos at their events and helping them promote their services,” Ulmer said.

Ulmer's commitment to the community becomes evident during a visit to his shop, where he greets everyone on a first-name basis, and manages a steady stream of customer inquiries and walk-ins with ease and a welcoming demeanor.

Ulmer's dedication to building meaningful relationships with customers began early on. As a young boy, he offered various services to his neighbors, using the money earned to purchase his first camera, a Kodak X15. From snapping pictures of well-manicured lawns to selling those images back to his customers, Ulmer learned early the value of connection and community.

His work ethic and value system were further honed by his involvement in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, and he eventually nurtured his love for photography into a career. His journey included working at JCPenney and attending Delta College, leading to a vital friendship with Greg Meadows of Meadows Camera, who hired Ulmer in 1981.

"Greg really thought of me as a diamond in the rough. He took me under his wing,” Ulmer said. “He mentored me and guided me into a leadership position that allowed me to thrive and in turn mentor others. Because really that is the true measure of success isn’t it? To assist others in finding their strengths.”

In 1999, Ulmer decided to open his own business, Ulmer Photo, downtown on Weber Ave., fostering long-lasting connections with nonprofits and small businesses. Ulmer's contributions to the community continue to this day, from serving on the board of the Stockton Emergency Food Bank to covering the Bishops Awards for 16 years.

Ulmer's belief in the value of giving back extends beyond his professional life. He regularly conducts drives for local nonprofits and encourages everyone to share their strengths. “Not everyone can donate money but perhaps you can donate your time or a particular skill,” Ulmer said. “Look around you. There are so many needs and everyone can give something. We all have strengths that can be shared.”

Today, his shop houses a collection of used and donated cameras behind a sliding glass door, catering to anyone keen on embracing traditional photography. His first camera may no longer be with him, but the relationships and connections it sparked continue to thrive, painting the vibrant story of Tim Ulmer and the community he serves. Check out the amazing full story on Stocktonia!

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