Longtime CdM photographer closes up shop

Photographer John L. Blom, who has been taking custom portraits in Corona del Mar for more than three decades, has sold his East Coast Highway studio.

Blom said he will continue photography from his Newport Beach home, working with families by appointment and shooting on location.

"By mid-May, I won't be here anymore," he said. "I'm cutting back. My real love is photographing families and kids, and I'll do that more on location."

Blom studied photography at the Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, then worked at a photography studio in Phoenix. The owner there was considering opening a Fashion Island studio, then decided against it and asked Blom to move to Texas.

Instead, Blom moved to Newport Beach himself and opened a studio in Corona del Mar in 1979.

"I always wanted to be in Corona del Mar," he said. "I would drive up and down Coast Highway, and then I saw a 'For Rent' sign. The landlord was very skeptical of me doing this business, but the space became too small within six months."

Eventually, he left and moved to 3732 E. Coast Hwy.

Blom's work includes publicity shots, weddings and Christmas card family portraits.

"I've done photos when kids are babies, and I then photographed their weddings," he said. "They treat me like I'm part of the family."

Blom said the key to his success has not only been the work he does with the camera, but also the work he does when arranging the shoot. He works with families to select wardrobe (he's not a big fan of the trend of matching white tops and blue jeans or khakis), though he sometimes runs into interference when teenage girls and their mothers battle over what to wear.

Picking the right location also is part of the process.

"If the dad's most casual shoes are wingtips, maybe the beach isn't the most appropriate place," he said.

During the shoot, he uses a remote control so families aren't hyper-aware of when the photo is being snapped. He's also a fan of including pets, and has accommodated one family who wanted their portrait created in a park, with a grand piano and lighted chandelier hanging from a tree branch overhead.

Blom has served as president of the Corona del Mar Chamber of Commerce.

Linda Leonhard, president of chamber, praised Blom and his years of volunteerism.

"John Blom has been one the longest active members of the CdM chamber, and his studio has served so many generations of local residents," she wrote in an email. "We will miss him here in the business district but wish him the best."

Longtime client Nik Froehlich of Corona del Mar called Blom a pro.

"He listens to our vision, allows us to experiment with it, but will always 'add' his own ideas that seem to come out to be the better option than our ideas," Froehlich wrote in an email. "He makes the experience fun, enjoyable and relaxing, and does an excellent job capturing the personalities and the moment."

The building's new owner plans to divide it into several units, Blom said, adding that he did not know of specific future tenants.


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