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Small business owner Mark Horner poses for a photo in his Old Tyme Photos studio.

ABOUT MARK HORNER

* Background: Originally from West Virginia, later moved to Tallahassee, Fla., and Orlando

* Education: University of Florida, bachelor's degree in fine arts photography

* Age: 58

* Personal: Married, two adult children

* Business: Paper Moon Portraits, 1421 Market St.

* Quote: "There's only a few people around the country doing this."

Mark Horner says he hopes to turn lemons into lemonade.

The photographer had been running his business taking "old-time" pictures at a studio at the Chattanooga Choo Choo complex, but the tourist landmark's renovation usurped his space.

That forced Horner to find a new location, and he has opened Paper Moon Portraits on Market Street across from the Choo Choo where he specializes in nostalgic photos.

Horner says he's hopeful that "more visibility will be a positive change."

The 58-year-old photographer says he's not cutting ties to the Choo Choo. He will still shoot Santa Claus photos at Christmastime, and he wants to work with the Choo Choo to market his business to the thousands of out-of-town, and local, guests which visit the Chattanooga historic site annually.

Horner says the "paper moon" concept hearkens back to the popular 1973 movie starring Ryan O'Neal and his daughter, Tatum, by the same name. The film, shot in black-and-white, is set in Kansas and Missouri during the Great Depression. Movie posters at the time showed the two O'Neals sitting on a large quarter moon.

In Horner's studio at 1421 Market Street is a re-creation of the movie poster theme. He believes there's just a handful of photography studios nationally focusing on that idea.

"There's only a few people around the country doing this," Horner says.

But, his studio also contains other old-time sets, including a Victorian mock up and one depicting an Old West saloon setting. Another shows off a "country cabin" complete with the door and outside walls of a mid-1800s outhouse.

Horner has invested about $25,000 in the business. He's hopeful of hitting the $50,000 revenue mark the first year and growing from there. In addition, he's taking modern business portraits to help reach his revenue goals.

But, Horner says, it's the old-time themes which will make up the lion's share of his work. He pointed to a classic camera in his shop that involves wet-plate collodion photography.

That process became enormously popular in the 1800s and was used for portraiture, landscape work, and architectural and art photography, providing rich aesthetic qualities to the final result.

"It's a return to craftsmanship," says Horner. "I hope to carve out a niche."

The block where Paper Moon Portraits is located is seeing a resurgence of business.

The Hot Chocolatier, which creates small batches of fresh artisan chocolates and pastries, moved in nearby Horner's studio last year. The Tennessee Stillhouse opened its unique micro-distillery and tasting room recently as well.

Cheryl Koch, who works at Hot Chocolatier, said she's glad to see more businesses assemble in the block as well as the expansion of the Choo Choo.

"There's a lot more activity on the block, which is nice," she says.

Horner, who formerly operated a photography studio in Ooltewah, says he likes downtown Chattanooga's Southside.

"I'm hoping as the Southside continues to hop and become more popular, it will benefit us in the long run," he says.

This article appears in Edge magazine.

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