Behind the scenes at Highview Photo

Dean & Joni Ward are a husband and wife team who’ve been finishing each other’s sentences for more than 25 years. Both are native to Red Deer who are proud to call Alberta home. They enjoy camping and hiking in Alberta’s West Country; gardening, skiing, cycling, reading, and being with family.

Dean’s love of photography began in the darkroom in junior high school, watching his first black and white image appear in the developing tray under the red glow of the darkroom safelight. His main subjects were his family and friends on ski trips, his dogs, and anything with a motor – or a propeller. By the time he was 22, Dean was a licensed commercial pilot in both fixed-wing and rotary aircraft.

Though a digital camera is now his daily driver, Dean’s passion for film photography is everlasting. His collection of large-format film images is both impressive and perpetually incomplete, as he adds a few every year. "Shooting on film is like listening to music on vinyl, it just has more soul." - Dean Ward.

It makes sense that a photographer who can pilot an aircraft and who has an entrepreneurial spirit, would decide to open his own business: a one-hour photo lab aptly named Highview Photo. In 1993, Dean purchased land on Red Deer’s Gaetz Avenue and built a modest 1000 sqft retail location with the unique addition of a drive-thru, processing upward of 80 rolls of 35mm film per day. Ten months after opening, Dean met Joni, a farm girl with a penchant for books and horses. When visiting Dean on her days-off, she learned the ins and outs of the photo lab and began processing film and serving customers right alongside him. The two quickly learned that working together was the way it was meant to be, and to this day, wouldn’t have it any other way.

As a teen with stars in her eyes, Joni once pictured herself with a career that enabled her to make art with a view overlooking the city. Turns out that her framing table and work area happen to be on the second floor in a high-ceilinged room, bathed in natural light from large windows with a view of Red Deer’s Gaetz Avenue.

In 1998, Highview Photo underwent a massive renovation to quadruple its size.

The large footprint provided space to offer an impressive variety of custom picture framing options and a large contemporary photography studio. Although no longer processing film, Highview Photo has evolved and remains a prominent business landmark on Red Deer’s South Hill.

Small business is about personal relationships. Providing a service or product, meeting new people and listening to their stories.

It’s a place where customers become friends.

Dean and Joni are grateful for each and every one of their customers and feel blessed to serve them on a daily basis. From family and business photography sessions and passport photos to printing photos for heart-shaped lockets and framing university degrees or a generations-old violin, Dean and Joni do it with skill and care.

This year Highview Photo is celebrating their 30th Anniversary, and they want to celebrate with you. See in store for details and specials.

Dean and Joni

Highview Photo History
How we started.