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College of Business Professor Alan Cring not only teaches students how to run a business, but he also runs a business of his own outside of his teaching profession. Cring has a love for the art of photography and showcases his work through the name Emergent Light Studio.

Cring feels that a good photograph “takes two hours and 30 years” to make. Thirty years refers to a high level of experience with photography, and two hours refers to the use of manual modes of photography, and plenty of patience to wait for and plan the perfect shot.

Cring will walk long distances and spend a great deal of time waiting for the right lighting and composition to occur, until he gets the shot he wants to capture. He does not believe in the more journalistic side of photography which can include snapping picture after picture in hopes of getting an acceptable shot. He uses his knowledge of shutter speeds and apertures in order to capture the colors of the moment once the sun goes down, and to capture the magnificence and beauty of the prairie.

Cring’s style is to take the prairie photo he has worked to achieve, digitally liquefy the colors, and then digitally re-paint the photo with painter’s strokes from well-known artists such as Edouard Manet and Edmund Leighton.

When asked if he has had this passion for photography since childhood, Cring’s response was: “Why?” In a time where there was “Star Trek and Rockets,” why would he be interested in thinking about preserving the moment for the future, when he was doing nothing but chasing the future?

Twilight in Rural America

“Twilight in Rural America,” by Alan Cring.

Cring says death is what truly sparked his interest in photography, because death is what helped him to realize the importance of what is left of someone after they leave this earth. It is when he found out the future did come, and he really wished it hadn’t, that his interest in photography began.

This newfound interest began when he was in his mid-20s and had just gotten out of the service, but it didn’t really take root until the early 2000s. Cring came from a private family of public performers such as teachers, ministers, and business owners who didn’t live long enough to see his photography, but he is active in continuing the legacy of being a public figure, and telling his own story. Cring is not a fan of bucket lists, but if he were to have one, the only item on it would be to go back through time with his camera, so that his story can be even more spectacular.

Inspiring the artist

When asked who his favorite photographer is, Cring’s reply was “Me.” It only makes sense that his own work would be his favorite, and that must lend itself to feelings of great accomplishment. However, Cring does have a few specific photographers who have greatly inspired him in his own artistry, and he enjoys walking in the footsteps of those who took the very first photos. He would say his favorite is Edward Westin. His love and appreciation of Westin’s work was obvious, when watching his expression and reaction while showing examples of his work. Cring is also greatly inspired by painters such as Andrew Wyeth, Raffaello, and Jan van Eyck.

Cring’s photography business is easily carried over into his profession as a professor of business at Illinois State. His entrepreneurial experience means he can also teach from his firsthand experience, of the blood, sweat, and tears that go into running a business. He can teach that sales don’t come from websites or social media posts, but rather from walking through the storms, slowly building one’s name one step at a time and constantly working to produce “new.”

Cring points out that low risk will likely produce a low return. It’s the high-risk takers that have success with a high return. His greatest advice to those who want to run a business: “Don’t hope, start doing.” He suggests to not be afraid of that walk through the proverbial snow, running into that barbed wire fence or nearly falling into a frozen lake. Yes, these are all things that have happened to Cring on his ventures, but things that didn’t hold him back.

Cring’s reverence for the art of photography can be attributed to his desire to live long beyond his time, and ensure that future generations can see the world through his eyes. This is exemplified in another one of Cring’s hobbies: writing.

Cring is currently writing a story. The story takes place in the future, in a time when framed photographs will be obsolete. A young woman with a terminal illness and prognosis of only a few months to live is enthralled with some of Cring’s photographs in an antique shop because she will be able to see the world through his eyes, before she leaves this world where she will actually meet him in the afterlife.

Quote from Cring: “If only for a minute, I caught them before they were gone.”

You can also follow Cring and Emergent Light Studio on Facebook.