DIR’s 2023 Salute to Superstars behind the Counter

DIR’s 2023 Salute to Superstars behind the Counter


Digital Imaging Reporters has saluted the unsung heroes behind our retail counters for the past five years. As we present our 2023 Salute to Superstars behind the Counter, we are again amazed at the employees who are on the front lines every day. They are learning new technologies and empowering their customers to become better image makers.

The winners are the best of the best for 2023: those who helped keep the lights on with smiles on their faces (even with their masks on). In many ways, they are the heart and soul of our industry.

As always, our winners were nominated by their managers, their peers as well as manufacturers who recognize their value and appreciate their tireless efforts on the front lines each day. While so many more can and should be recognized, we had to narrow down our choices to just the top seven. However, we feel strongly that all retail staff should be proud of their accomplishments.

In addition, we want to extend our thanks to every retail salesperson out there who continues to keep the imaging industry alive and vibrant. We can’t thank you enough.

Digital Imaging Reporter is proud to continue this feature with our sixth annual Superstars behind the Counter. We’d also like to thank those who submitted nominations. Moreover, we look forward to continuing this tradition for years to come.

We’re delighted to present our 2023 superstars!

     DIR‘s 2023 Salute to Superstars behind the Counter

Brandon Jennings: Bedford Camera & Video, Springdale, Arkansas Brandon-Jennings-2023 Salute to Superstars behind the Counter

Brandon always provides exceptional customer service at all levels. Moreover, he is a consummate specialist that is always willing to learn. He truly gets excited to see new products and is a technology evangelist. Bedford’s management references Brandon as a fantastic Sony supporter and mentions how great he is for Sony and its customers.

He is a Sony expert with all still and cinema categories. Additionally, Brandon has been taking photographs for more than 15 years. In 2020, he decided to make it his profession and began to shoot real estate, headshots and studio work with his Sony Alpha 7R IV. In 2021, he began working at Bedford Camera and fell in love with educating customers about photography. Brandon now works full-time at Bedford Camera in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and has taken on the role of imaging instructor in Northwest Arkansas.—Nominated by John Bruehl, Director, Imaging Specialty Group, Sony Electronics Inc.

Shiann Banks: Midwest Photo, Columbus, Ohio Shiann-Banks-2023 Salute to Superstars behind the Counter

Midwest Photo’s used equipment specialist, Shiann Banks is our Superstar behind the Counter. Used camera gear can come in all shapes and sizes. Further, it is one of the largest departments of our store. If it is not handled with the right care, it can quickly become an untamable beast.

However, Shiann’s broad range of knowledge has made it an appealing area in which our customers enthusiastically indulge. A talented photographer herself, Shiann is able to help her customers from a point of experience. Because of this, they trust her advice. In addition, many of her customers regard her as a friend. She engages with their progress and work, and she is genuinely interested in their growth in the craft. In the four years Shiann has worked at Midwest Photo, she has shown her own growth in the position. We are very grateful to be a part of it. You rock, Shiann.—Nominated by Tom Wright, Sales Manager, Midwest Photo

Taylor Cubbie: Midwest Photo, Columbus, Ohio Taylor-Cubbie-2023 Salute to Superstars behind the Counter

From day one at Midwest, Taylor Cubbie has brightened the days of customers and coworkers alike. His huge smile and always present positive demeanor have endeared him to all of us. What’s more, they complement his natural ability to build relationships. Taylor has a long history of customer service and has honed his skills further as one of our most successful sales associates.

In addition, Taylor is a true gear geek with a sincere excitement for everything photography. That, along with his enthusiasm for learning, has translated into him becoming an associate who is incredibly knowledgeable. He is also a highly talented photographer who engages nearly every format available. A year ago, Taylor joined our Commercial team and is a huge part of the tremendous growth in that department.

Further, Taylor takes his knowledge, enthusiasm and various abilities on the road when he visits schools, universities, studios, manufacturers, etc. He connects with them both on an intellectual and relational level. Taylor is an incredibly unique person, and we are profoundly fortunate to have him on our team.—Nominated by Mark R. Mohler, Purchasing Manager, Midwest Photo

Sonnie Jones: Midwest Photo, Columbus, Ohio Sonnie-Jones

When Sonnie was young, his grandfather gave him a Yashica camera. He would take that camera out to photograph his friends when they were skateboarding. Later, he took a camera along to Europe and became hooked on photography.

Today Sonnie can be found helping customers in the store daily as a top sales associate. He also has his own customers who come in looking for him. Moreover, he provides them with the ideal level of personalized customer service. Because he knows the ins and outs of many different camera systems, customers trust Sonnie, relying on his superb knowledge and buying advice. Sonnie Jones truly is a one-of-a-kind salesperson at Midwest Photo!—Nominated by Ryan Brown, Account Manager, Independent Dealer Sales, Imaging Technologies & Communications Group, Canon USA, Inc.

Carl Lynch: Mike’s Camera, Boulder, Colorado Carl-Lynch-2023 Salute to Superstars behind the Counter

Carl Lynch has worked for Mike’s Camera at our Wheat Ridge, Colorado, location since 2012. He was a sales professional with Wolf/Ritz prior to that. Furthermore, Carl’s professionalism in photography sales is reflected in his ability to build strong, long-lasting relationships with his customers.

These relationships result in repeat business as well as referrals. In addition, Carl is seen as a leader by his peers for his salesmanship skills as well as his photography expertise. He enjoys sharing his knowledge both at the counter as well as on-site at many of our wildlife photography workshops. His passion for cameras is only rivaled by his passion for his family.—Nominated by Mike Dobson, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Mike’s Camera

Jeff Moore: Roberts Camera, Indianapolis, Indiana Jeff-Moore

I am nominating Jeff Moore, a retail assistant sales manager at Roberts Camera, for DIR’s Superstars behind the Counter honor this year. In the five+ years I have been calling on Roberts Camera, I have always found Jeff to be a pleasant, engaging and knowledgeable person.

In addition, Jeff is always smiling when I see him. Moreover, he provides an excellent service experience for his many customers. Jeff started his career at Roberts Camera in 1994 and has continued as a rock steady employee for 28+ years. I always look forward to seeing Jeff on my visits to Roberts Camera!—Nominated by Chuck Cheney, Manager, Independent Dealer Sales, Imaging Technologies & Communications Group, Canon USA, Inc.

Matt McFerron: Schillers Camera, St. Louis, Missouri Matt-McFerron-2023 Salute to Superstars behind the Counter

I would like to nominate our “Superstar” Matt McFerron. Matt is a friend to many. What’s more, he is an exceptional salesperson and has an insatiable passion for photography. Matt’s attitude is always phenomenal and customer centric. He encourages other photographers and loves to experiment with all aspects of photography, especially shooting on film.

Matt is also becoming more involved in our used equipment business. Shining up a classic film or used digital camera and putting it in the hands of a customer makes his day! When Matt helps a customer in our store, I know that the service they receive is top shelf and they will share it with their family and friends. I am proud to nominate Matt McFerron for this prestigious recognition.—Nominated by Robb Muller, Sales Manager, Schillers Camera