Businesses come and go, but in downtown Farmington, a handful of merchants have weathered decades of economic and technological shifts, establishing themselves as tried-and-true anchors of this vibrant, small-town community.
To celebrate these beloved local institutions, Metromode’s On the Ground Farmington project has been publishing a Fixtures of Farmington series, whereby we shine a spotlight on these businesses’ owners; chronicle each venture’s origin story; and gather insights on how and why these businesses, after so many years, continue to thrive. This is the last story of the series.
Focal Point Studio of Photography started small, and moved to several progressively bigger spaces, before landing in its current longtime (and enormous) home at 33431 Grand River.
Founded by photographers Jerry Jakacki and John Prusak in 1973, Focal Point first opened in a tiny, 300 square foot office in the Village Mall, at the corner of Grand River and Farmington Rd.
Michele and Marisa Jackacki.“Then we moved to where the tailor (Farmington Alterations) is now, which was maybe 900 square feet, and then we moved into what was a health food store and space next to that, which was 2,000 or 2,200 square feet,” said Michele Jakacki, owner/manager of Focal Point. (She and husband Jerry bought Prusak’s share of the business in 1976, and Michele took the reins with her sister, Marisa, well before Jerry’s death six years ago.) “In the mid-80s, we bought the building where we are now. … At the time, it was kind of a big eyesore in town – this dilapidated, abandoned old factory.”
But Focal Point renovated the building and, in 1987, moved in, putting down permanent roots.
What initially drew Jakacki and Prusak to Farmington?
“What Jerry noticed was all the beautiful land in Farmington,” said Jakacki. “The parks, the pretty homes, the beautiful landscapes. No photographers at that time were focusing on that. There was one little photography studio in town then, but no one was doing environmental stuff. … So we really introduced natural photography here, and the community just loved it.”
Though Focal Point does a good deal of corporate photography for websites these days, family and baby portraits are still staples. (Plus, FP also has a second location in Plymouth.)
“We’ve been working with many of the same families for 45 years, so we’ve gotten to watch these families grow,” said Jakacki. “Everyone who comes through the door feels like an old friend.”
And when those old friends need senior pictures, Focal Point long ago established itself as the local place to go.
“We introduced a whole new ballgame for senior portraits,” said Jakacki. “We introduced natural settings, and a more ‘glamour style’ senior portrait, with very advanced techniques. … It wasn’t just a head and shoulders shot on a dark background. We used props and advanced lighting.”
Focal Point got its very first school contract, in fact, after Farmington High students began showing up in droves for senior portraits.
So thanks to its long-established relationship and positive with the Farmington community, Focal Point has been able to survive the advent of digital photography.
“Many studios have gone out of business,” said Jakacki. “Our secret is to stay on top of technology. And we do stay very current with our equipment and techniques. … We have to. But we’re also fun. We have a lot of fun in our camera rooms. We really make it about the person.”
Farmington’s changed a lot over the course of Focal Point’s history, of course, but from Jakacki’s view, it’s just been getting better and better.
“Even when we have to close the studio for a festival or something, we don’t mind,” said Jakacki. “We want the town to thrive. … In ’73, it was just this little town with resale shops, so to us – to see it thriving, with all that’s happening now, has been so great. … We’ll be here as long as we possibly can be.”