Port Arthur great Frank Cricchio featured in museum photography exhibit

Published 12:03 am Saturday, August 26, 2023

The Museum of the Gulf Coast is opening “Frank Cricchio: A Life in Photography” Sept. 8 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Dunn Gallery.

Cricchio was a portrait photographer who was born and raised in Port Arthur. For decades, the Cricchio photography studio was the premier portrait studio in the area.

Cricchio became known nationally for his beautiful photography and taught classes in nearly every state. He was a member of and served as president of nearly every major photography organization in the county.

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He also helped Kodak and Fuji with the development of their new emulsions.

At the age of 12, Cricchio entered a darkened room and learned how to develop a roll of film. His parents could not afford to send him to a photography school, so he had learned the craft on his own. By age 14, he had read any book he could find in the Port Arthur Public Library.

After that came magazines and trying the techniques he had learned. At 16, two of his high school teachers noticed his talent and gave him the encouragement he needed. Photography, from then on, was all he ever knew.

With the camera, his parents sacrificed to buy him (nicknamed Theresa) and a dark room in the garage, Cricchio began his photography business. That was put on hold while he attended Lamar University, but after working in the Sears Advertising Department in Port Arthur, Cricchio returned to photography and rented space in a 15 x 30-foot building.

It was so small he had to move his equipment out the back door to do a proper sitting.

The Port Arthur News also put him on a retainer to take photos for the newspaper.

In 1966, the United Press International awarded him the ROP National Color Award for one of his photographs, and Cricchio became driven to elevate his craft.

While attending the Winona International School of Professional Photography, he was encouraged by the instructors to enter his work in Professional Photographers Association contests and start working toward his Master of Photography degree.

Eventually, Cricchio would attain the title of Master of Photography, Photographic Craftsman and several other degrees in the U.S. and abroad.

In 1998, he became the first photographer to earn 1,000 merits by the PPA. He eventually served as President of Texas PPA, Southwestern PPA, the Professional Photographers of America, and the American Society of Photography.

He was also a member and served as president of the prestigious Cameracraftsmen of America, which is limited to 40 photographers.

Texas Professional Photographer wrote it was Cricchio’s drive to share his vast technical knowledge with other photographers that earned him the reputation as one of the greatest teachers, photographers and authors of photographic technique.

Cricchio died Dec. 23, 2022. He was 83 years old.

“Frank Cricchio, A Life in Photography” will be on display through Nov. 8.