Yates documents history for the masses in Texas

Aaron Yates, owner of KerrvillePhoto.com, says his grandfather, Dellie Voelkel, gave him a 1974 Ford Bronco in the 1990s. Yates drove it through high school and most of college, then had to "throw a tarp over it." But over the last five years he has restored the Bronco, inside and out, and it's ready for date nights.

Videographer Arron Yates says he "learned by doing" video production, long before video became accessible on YouTube.

"I started out in the mid-1980s, helping my grandfather," he says. "My father and mother, Frank and Vicki Yates were both Presbyterian ministers. Back then, for 13 years, my mother was associate pastor for Kerrville's First Presbyterian Church, and my grandfather, Dellie Voelkel, would video services for shut-ins who couldn't attend. In the 1980s that meant filming in VHS, and then duplicating the tapes. It was a lot of work."

Voelkel also videoed family events, and Yates says he helped him there as well.

Yates says when he was born his parents were campus ministers at Schreiner University, living in a little house on campus, which is still there. He grew up in Kerrville, graduating from Tivy High School in 1999.

"I returned to Schreiner for college," he says. "The professors kept telling me I was 'campus royalty,' because of my birthplace. But I earned my own way through college, mostly working for my uncles at Voelkel Land Surveying. I earned my bachelor of business arts, in finance, in 2007. After that I worked surveying land during the day, and did photography and video during the night."

Yates says he took his video business, KerrvillePhoto.com, full-time in 2010. "My grandfather Voelkel taught me that when you run your own business, you work 'half-days.' For him, that meant 12 hours. I also have the advantage of a solid finance education, which helps me run the business end of the business."

He says KerrvillePhoto provides photography and video production for businesses, marketing campaigns, and special events. The businesses include commercial, government, and non-profit organizations.

"Right now I'm working with the new Broadway Bank. I'm providing virtual instead of traditional events, like for ribbon-cuttings, and I produce live events. I run the Jumbotron at Tivy stadium for everything from games to graduation. I produced the recent City of Kerrville press conference at the Cailloux Theater, and I've done galas, like for Peterson Regional Medical Center, the city's Daddy-Daughter Dance, and the Charity Ball, both the livestream and the video posted online."

He says different projects require him to have a variety of equipment, and the knowledge to use it. He may provide microphones, projectors for slide shows or video, lighting for maximum visual quality, and, for outdoor events like Fourth of July, drone coverage.

"First, I sit with the client and discuss what they want to achieve," he says. "Quantity wise, my most common job is videoing luxury rural real estate for realtors. That can sometimes keep me busy three days a week. I'm the only one that's full-time, but I have eight or so people I can call on part-time. For instance, I had three people at Dr. Bob's funeral, where we were streaming online and locally, as well as providing stations where those attending could video statements for the family."

He says his work happens across every corner of Texas. It's not uncommon for him to put 400 miles a day on his work truck. He's also had projects in New Mexico, Colorado and Oregon. "One time I videoed a sunset in Corpus Christi, and the next sunrise in Marble Falls. It's fun. I may video a Kerrville bank one day, and spend the next day taking photos of massive whitetail bucks on a South Texas ranch."

Yates credits advances in video availability for some of his success. "Since I was helping my grandfather, we've gone from VHS to CD to digital. When the internet first allowed video it took minutes to download a 10-second, low resolution file. YouTube didn't come along until February of 2005. But now we have 4K downloads, so you can stream quality video in real-time. Videos are being uploaded to YouTube at a rate of 50 viewing hours per minute, so it's impossible watch them all."

When Yates isn't running his "half-day" business, he says he's a member of the Economic Improvement Corporation, and has served on other boards in the past. He also runs the Kerrville United website, which promotes good governance from a non-partisan view. "We started a petition, which gathered more than 1,000 names, urging the County Court to video their meetings, as the City Council does. They meet 9:00 on Monday mornings, so it's hard for working people to attend. I think the only meeting I was able to make was when we presented the petition."

He says he's also completing another non-work project. Back when he turned 15, in Tivy, his grandfather Voelkel gave him a 1974 Ford Bronco. "I drove it through high school and most of college, until it got to be unreliable, and I had to throw a tarp over it. But about five years ago, when my business started making money, I started restoring it. I worked over the interior, exterior and engine, and now it's ready to drive. I surprised a date with it, and she was very impressed."

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