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Saturday, December 2, 2017

A Gateway To Understanding The World

Robert J. Flischel Photography Celebrates 40 Years in Business

By Jennifer Sauers

“River Belles” - a Flischel photo
Award-winning photographer and native Cincinnatian Robert A. Flischel discovered his profession after he registered for an elective class while studying social work. This course in photography piqued his interest and challenged him as well. However, after graduating from Xavier University in 1971, he accepted a position at the Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CABVI) in a job aligned with his academic major.

Photography remained a hobby for Robert, and he fanned his passion and embraced his artistic way of looking at the world. He enrolled in a local school of photography run by Kazik Pazovski, a renowned 20th century portrait photographer. Pazovski taught Robert that bringing one’s heart and mind to visual arts transcends technique and equipment. Says Robert, “I realized I had an artistic impulse; I’m visually tuned in. It’s as if I’m wired to observe the world and to interpret it.” 

“Patriot” - a Flischel photo
In the meantime, he helped bring Radio Reading Service to CABVI and became a founding trustee of the audio service which assists people with visual disabilities listen to current magazines and newspapers. Yet he felt the tug of art and decided it was time to explore a career in photojournalism. 

The skills he had developed as a social worker – communicating and connecting with others - served him well in his debut as a staff photographer for Cincinnati Magazine. After several successful years there he took a position with Ohio Magazine, a tourism publication, as a photographer and contributing editor. “I learned how to do anything,” he said. “I became known as a ‘photographic problem solver.’ I learned how to get past gatekeepers. And I learned how to tell a story through photography, and to connect with the reader.”

In 1977, Robert opened his own business, Robert J. Flischel Photography, which remains a premier Cincinnati studio and is in the midst of celebrating its 40th year. His services run the gamut from photo shoots at weddings, family gatherings, businesses and other assignments.

Robert Flishcel (bottom right) directing the Ariel Quartet during a photo shoot
“The most remarkable takeaway from 45 years as a professional photographer has been the realization that photography provides a structure and a framework for observing and understanding life. You build up the ability to notice, interpret and understand the world around you. You are not permitted to ignore, dismiss and avoid dealing with life on life's terms.”

Robert’s business grew as his work attracted national recognition. His photos were featured in iconic mainstream magazines like Life, Smithsonian, Time, Business Week, Newsweek and Town & Country, to name just a few. In addition, he brought his technical skills and artistic talents to bear as a contributing photographer for nine books. Local readers will recognize titles such as: The Junior League of Cincinnati’s I’ll Cook When Pigs Fly cookbook, Tall Stacks: A Celebration of America’s Steamboat Heritage and The Big Pig Gig: Celebrating Pigs in the City.

Although photography remains his central passion, Robert’s interests do not stop there. His ability to see the world artistically – “like many threads coming together” - along with his interest and appreciation for history, art and architecture led him to be involved in researching and publishing over a half-dozen book projects of his own. Most of these are hard-cover “coffee-table” style books with sumptuous images, thoughtful captions and text, quality printing and binding and a visual magic that entices and draws in the reader. A few of the titles include: Cincinnati Illuminated: A Photographic Journey, The University of Cincinnati: Architectural Transformation and The Ohio State University: Pathways to the Heart and Mind.

“Old Ripley” - a Fleischel photo
Another book Robert facilitated which honors our city’s history is An Expression of the Community: Cincinnati Public Schools Legacy of Art and Architecture. The inception for this project began when he was a young boy and occasionally accompanied his father, a plumber in the Cincinnati Public Schools, to work. Robert roamed the halls of the old buildings and observed many pieces of high quality art, tile and sculpture.  

“Back then, schools were viewed as temples of learning instead of what often seems today like factories. The art was installed to inspire the students.” After the idea popped in his head to publish a book heralding these treasures, he spent years photographing the architecture and ornamentation in dozens of schools to raise awareness and honor its legacy. 

An Expression of Community was published by the Art League, a local organization that documents, protects, preserves and enhances the historic artwork in schools. Robert has been actively involved with the League for decades and sits on its Board of Directors. Proceeds from the book benefit the work of the organization.

Keeping the momentum alive for his book projects, community activities and photography studio is no problem for Robert. “It’s fun for me. “I can get lost in the process, but I think that’s the goal of artist: to lose themselves in their art.. 

Robert J. Flischel Photography is located at 3914 Miami Road, Suite 312, Cincinnati, OH 45227; tel:  513-271-3113.

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