Ken Gehle, 46, award-winning photographer with a civic passion

Ken Gehle, 46, award-winning photographer with a civic passion

With his camera, Ken Gehle could make the world stand still and look beautiful.

He was a professional photographer who delighted his advertiser clients with spot-on interpretations of their marketing themes.

He took great satisfaction himself in his artistic renderings of scenes from nature, which he made available as prints suitable for framing on his Web site, kengehle.com.

"Ken did amazing work for us a few years ago on a project involving our do-it-yourself product line," said Michelle Farmer of Atlanta, associate product manager for Kimberly Clark. "Our goal was to convey the sense of pride of accomplishment in doing home improvements -- a feeling he was familiar with since he was a home handyman himself. Well, his photos were incredible, just what we were looking for. Ken was very talented."

Mark Gooch of Birmingham, a longtime friend and fellow photographer, said Mr. Gehle's work might seem simple to a layperson, but it was the product of exhaustive preparation and follow-up. "He'd scout a location again and again just to determine the best time to shoot and the best vantage to shoot from," he said.

Peer review and recognition are important in the photography profession, and Mr. Gehle got plenty of the latter, in the form of both local and national awards. "Ken made a presentation entitled ‘Rural Gas,' a collection of photos of country service stations, that won our profession's equivalent of an Academy Award," Mr. Gooch said.

Brian Crumb of Atlanta said he learned a lot working as an assistant to Mr. Gehle.

"He not only knew the nuts and bolts of photography -- lighting, composition and all that -- he knew the nuts and bolts of pleasing clients," he said.

"Ken had a passion for photography above and beyond the everyday business of making a living," Mr. Crumb said. "He would go off on his own, like on a camping trip, and would spend the whole time shooting pictures, not for any advertising account, but for his own satisfaction. Once Ken shot a sequence on fly fishing and enjoyed it so much he took [the sport] up himself."

Kenneth Charles Gehle, 46, of Decatur, died of cancer Monday at Emory University Hospital. A memorial service is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at Decatur Presbyterian Church. A.S. Turner & Sons is in charge of arrangements.

Mr. Gehle was born and reared in New Jersey, but not the urban part. "We lived in the far northwest corner in a hilly and forested area," said his brother Keith Gehle of Suwanee, "so we kids spent hours playing in the woods. That's where Ken learned to love the outdoors."

In 1972 his family moved to Augusta, and Ken Gehle took up Scouting, rising to the rank of Eagle Scout, and often took part in camping jamborees. For college, he chose the Rochester (N.Y.) Institute of Technology, one of the premier schools for photographers.

After working for several Atlanta photographers, he set up his own business in Decatur, building his own studio in his backyard.

Decatur was more than a place to work for Mr. Gehle; he took its civic life seriously.

"Ken was a stand-up guy, very civic-minded," said a neighbor, Mary Visscher. "He and I were allies on a number of causes, especially against the encroachment of developers on our residential area. He could be very articulate making our case before the City Commission."

Another cause that was important to him was keeping Decatur a pedestrian-friendly city. "Ken walked everywhere," Ms. Visscher said, "including walking his children to school for the last nine years."

He also devoted the last several summers to coaching baseball for Decatur's youth sports program.

"We coached kids from ages 7 to 10, including his son and my two boys," said a friend, Mark Treese of Decatur. "Ken stressed that the players should carry themselves like winners, win or lose. He not only taught the rules of the game; he taught sportsmanship."

Survivors include his wife, Tamara Gehle; his parents, Frederick and Jane Gehle of Augusta; a daughter, Eilis Gehle; a son, Eric Gehle; two sisters, Donna Hagan of Richmond Hill and Susan Davis of Greenville, S.C.; and two other brothers, Rick Gehle of Moultrie and John Gehle of Augusta.

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