His passion led ‘Aircraft Photographer’ to develop a new business in Glenburn

Posted March 03, 2014, at 2:28 p.m.

GLENBURN — There’s a reason why private pilots across North America know Bob Hirshberg as the “Aircraft Photographer.”

Whenever he encounters a seaplane, Hirshberg reaches for his camera — and his photos now appear in calendars, on canvases, as framed art, and even on silk pillows. These products and others are available through his Glenburn-based business, Scruffyy Productions.

That’s “Scruffyy” with two y’s, and there’s more to the business than seaplane photos. From people to architectural beauty to vehicles and landmarks, Hirshberg takes photos across the width and breadth of Maine.

Hailing from Claremont, N.H. — “it’s a little town most people have never heard of,” he said with a smile — Hirshberg studied behavioral science at Boston University and, afterwards, architectural photography at the Boston Architectural Center.

While living in Boston, Hirshberg learned sign language after two deaf players joined his volleyball team. He taught deaf people how to sail on the Charles River — “you didn’t put your hand in its water, at least back then,” he quipped — and later “met a friend” who “introduced me to a friend who had a sailboat in Maine.”

Hirshberg lived in Sullivan for a while and pursued a graduate degree in counseling at the University of Maine. He developed that degree into a 27-year career as an Acadia Hospital clinical counselor and his photographic interest into a successful business that keeps him busy year-round.

He came into professional photography almost by accident. Hirshberg often flies with a pilot friend who owns a seaplane. While visiting an International Seaplane Fly In at Greenville some years ago, Hirshberg started photographing the seaplanes. Pilots asked for prints, then told their pilot acquaintances about the photos, and before he knew it, Hirshberg and his skills were in demand.

Using his computer, software, and printers, he produced a 2006 seaplane calendar; “people liked it,” he said, “and it just grew.”

Fly In organizers then hired Hirshberg as the event’s official photographer. He became a familiar face to the pilots flying their well-maintained seaplanes into Greenville; “I got to be known as the ‘Aircraft Photographer,” Hirshberg said. Even more aircraft owners started ordering prints — and they still do.

From 2007-2011, Hirshberg produced the Fly In’s official program. He developed an annually updated seaplane-themed calendar that sells well, and he produces other themed calendars: “Bangor,” “Warbirds Over Wiscasset,” and “Grass Strip Aviator” are among the titles, and a car calendar is among his annual products.

Hirshberg prints photos for customers and produces videos, including one shot during the Sunbeam British Sports Car Meet held at the Owls Head Transportation Museum in 2010.

He produces posters, event booklets, and canvases, which involve printing a photograph onto an artist’s canvas and doing “a gallery wrap.” The result is a beautiful photographic canvas that can resemble artwork.

Besides doing portrait photography, Hirshberg prints photos onto silk cloth and then sews it into a pillow. He displayed a silk pillow adorned with a full-color image of the “Katahdin,” the classic steamship operated by the Greenville-based Moosehead Marine Museum. The pillows are sold as souvenirs at the museum.

Hirshberg also offers a silk pillow depicting the Bangor waterfront in early autumn.

Hirshberg handles all aspects of Scruffyy Productions, from taking photos to printing all images and packaging and shipping his products; he offers many on his e-bay store. “I print and ship,” he said. “This is a one-stop shop.”

Depending on the product, Hirshberg uses one of seven printers spread across his shop. He can print images measuring up to 6 feet long by 2 feet wide. He also prints and sells bumper stickers and window stickers.

Hirshberg shoots with two Canon digital cameras: a Rebel T4I equipped with an 18-135 mm. lens and a 30D equipped with a 70-200 mm. lens. A dedicated professional photographer, he often has his cameras with him when he’s out and about somewhere in Maine.

Scruffyy Productions currently sells calendars at Bangor Hardware and Rebecca’s in Bangor and many products at Huckleberries in the Brewer Shopping Center on Wilson Street in Brewer.

For more information, call 942-3801, email scruffyy@aol.com, or log onto www.stores.ebay.com/aviation-collectibles-seaplane-cove.

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