Murfreesboro’s historic downtown offers local residents a wide array of uniques, from antiques to boutiques, and now, Made in Murfreesboro is adding culture to the mix with the opening of its photography gallery.
Romanian-born Titus Bartos launched his photography company, Made in Murfreesboro, four years ago at 123 E. Main St. to provide portraits and wedding photography, along with classes, lessons and workshops for both beginner and professional photographers.
When he decided to open the gallery, Bartos knew he had to set himself apart from other photographers in town.
“I wanted to have a very good quality product,” he said. “Most photographers will order their prints online, and they never know how they look (until the photos arrive). I have a printer as big as an upright piano, and I bought expensive fine art paper. I’m printing everything myself because I decided only to sell very high quality pictures.”
At 400 square feet, the gallery space is not large by any means, but it is cozy and offers an artistic flair to downtown Murfreesboro.
“Hopefully this will encourage other people to do the same. I would love to see another photographer open a gallery down the road just to motivate people to think about art,” he said.
Made in Murfreesboro’s gallery definitely brings creativity to the Square, said Judy Goldie, owner of Trendy Pieces and Bella’s Boutique who serves on the executive board of the Only Downtown Business Alliance, a 79-member merchants association.
By joining the unique shops and restaurants downtown, the gallery provides yet another reason for the Square to be a destination hot spot.
“It gives you a little bit of that culture right downtown,” she said. “You can walk in and feel like you’re in a gallery and choose something that he has hanging on the wall and take it with you right there.”
Bartos is known for his photographs hanging inside Middle Tennessee Medical Center and an especially popular one of the 2009 tornado that ravaged the city, along with those of landscapes and historic Murfreesboro landmarks.
Of the photographs he has selected to sell in the gallery, Bartos has only 75 of each limited edition print. They are all numbered, signed by Bartos himself and come with a certificate of authenticity.
They’re also extremely affordable.
Each 14x21-inch photograph numbered one through 10 is priced at $100. That cost increases for photographs numbered 11-20, and again for each group of 10 photos.
“That way, people who support me from the beginning can have an affordable price,” the photographer explained.
He discussed the difficulty of selling art in Murfreesboro, adding many shoppers will opt for reproductions available at discount stores instead of one-of-a-kind pieces.
“There’s a misconception about photography – that it is just decorative,” Bartos said. “I can’t change that mentality, but I can show them a bit of professionalism.”
With the accessibility of high-tech cameras and programs like Instagram, photography standards have been lowered with increased saturation and color. It’s overwhelming, he said.
“When I process my photos, I try to stay very subtle and keep a very natural look,” Bartos explained.
Made in Murfreesboro also uses locally owned Appletons Creative Framers so photographs are take-home ready.
“(Owner Bill Brison) has framed and matted everything, so everything looks really nice,” Bartos says.
This isn’t the first time Made in Murfreesboro has partnered with local businesses. For a recent open house, Bartos also called on downtown neighbors Pa Bunk’s Health Market and Café and Let’s Make Wine, among others.
Although Bartos is a professional photographer, he is a teacher at heart. He began studying piano at young age in his home of Romania, where he competed in statewide competitions. In 2001, he came to MTSU to earn his master’s degree in piano performance and subsequently taught many piano classes and private lessons, both during and after finishing his degree.
It was during this time that Bartos fostered a love for teaching and helping people grow their knowledge of the arts, not just piano. He rediscovered his love of visual arts through photography and, before long, he began teaching the art of photography.
“I enjoy teaching and will share my knowledge,” Bartos said. “So many people are afraid of teaching photography because they are afraid they will be training their competition. But I find great joy in helping (students). I don’t see them as competition, and I don’t hold secrets away from anyone.”