Local photographer builds business and ministry from l’dor v’dor.

As John Stewart established positive relationships with people in the Jewish community and began to incorporate the principles he learned from them to improve his own life.

Twenty years ago, local African American entrepreneur John Stewart, owner of Stewart Photography, set himself apart in his field as one of the first to offer digital keepsake photos with customized backgrounds. As his business grew, he began to hire people from the Jewish community who referred him to clients who needed pictures for bar mitzvah events.

Stewart, a Pontiac native, describes his experiences working with bar mitzvah events as a turning point for him, as he established positive relationships with people in the Jewish community and began to incorporate the principles he learned from them to improve his own life.

“When I first came to the bar mitzvahs and saw the community coming together to celebrate younger people, I was impressed. In life we need to celebrate each other and mark important moments,” he said.

Stewart was also impressed with the teens at the events who had a vision of their career paths at a young age. He credits the older generation of Jewish Americans for guiding and supporting their vision.

“I like the fact that a lot of Jewish Americans think and plan generationally. They invest a lot in their children and youth,” he added.

One of the Jewish teens he met over 10 years ago, Lexie Garfield-Turner, has fond memories of working with Stewart Photography as a photographer’s assistant, which was her first job.

“I loved working at the bar mitzvahs. I remember working with other young people and everyone was professional, but we had a great time,” Garfield-Turner said.

Garfield-Turner, who is now a licensed therapist, described John as “the go-to guy” for bar mitzvah photos in the Metro Detroit Jewish community in the early 2010s.

“The photographers that competed with John for business back then didn’t stand a chance because of the technology that he used and because of his charisma. He not only did quality work, but he established a lot of positive relationships with the community,” she said.

As time progressed, Stewart expanded his work in the Jewish community as he photographed weddings, high-end parties and sports events. Also an ordained Christian minister, Stewart started his own church called Generation2Generation Ministries in Bloomfield Hills a few years ago. He says that the church’s name reflects his experiences with the Jewish community and his understanding of the Hebrew phrase l’dor v’dor, which means “from generation to generation.”

“As a Christian minister, I teach what the Bible says about generations. You can see it in the lives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Bible speaks about wise stewards who pass an inheritance to their children. As a church, we need to have a multi-generational vision,” he said.

“I try to emphasize the role of family in my life and ministry. The family is the pillar of any culture,” he said. “If the family is destroyed, people will have a hard time trying to build.” 

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