As a sophomore, Justin Pritchett had a brush with fate that turned out to be a sign of things to come, landing him a first-place award in the Entrepreneurial Independent Business Plan at Virginia's 2004 DECA competition.
In his distributive education (DECA) class at Lake Braddock Secondary, Pritchett had to pick a book about a person from a pile of books in the front of the room. He took the biggest book there, which happened to be about photographer Ansel Adams. Now he mans the helm at Photographic Memories by Justin Pritchett, a business he started on his own.
"It was one of the craziest accidents," Pritchett said. "It was the first book I picked out."
As part of his DECA class, he wrote a 10-page business plan for the company, created a presentation of the company, and won the competition. He practiced his presentation on several of the department heads at Greenspring Village, as well. The financial details of the company were the toughest part.
"As far as what the business is, it's open. The financial part, it was something I hadn't done before, a lot more math than I'm used to," Pritchett said.
Part of the DECA goal is for a student to maintain a job outside of school. Pritchett works at Greenspring Village, where his photography comes in handy. Although his official position is with the community services department, he takes residents’ portraits, as well as promotional displays and resident activities.
"I know the portraits were used in our fifth anniversary celebration," said Pam McKinley, Greenspring Village public relations manager.
"When Linda and Doug Lucas got married, they were the first wedding in our chapel, and Justin photographed that," McKinley said.
Now weddings are one of Pritchett's specialties. Rick Pritchett, Justin Pritchett's father, said a lot of pictures are being taken around the house, as well. The family dogs, as well as grandparents and Justin Pritchett's girlfriend, are hot topics.
"He's got a lot of varied interests, and this is one of them. We think it's been extremely good experience for him," Rick Pritchett said.
THIS IS the third year Pritchett has worked at Greenspring Village. It started with a part-time job in the dining room when he was a sophomore at Lake Braddock Secondary School. His junior year, Pritchett started taking DECA and landed two awards that year before winning the statewide award this year. This year, he won a $1,000 scholarship plus $100 toward his expenses for the trip to the national DECA competition in late April.
In the Community Resources Department at Greenspring, Pritchett makes apartment reservations, makes handbooks and mans the office when necessary.
"We organize all the opportunities and resources Greenspring Village does for the residents," he said.
As far as the business is concerned, Pritchett has talked to several area private schools about photography work as well as weddings and other jobs that come along. He promotes it through networking, not advertising.
"I'm just getting the experience right now," he said.
On Saturday, March 27, Pritchett manned the camera at the Miss Greater Springfield competition at Greenspring Village.