Karl F. Mullings, of KFM Designs Photography out of Flagstaff, and Zushka Biros, the owner of Red Bench Photo Studio & Gallery in Jerome, have combined forces, and not just in business.
The two met 40 years ago on the East Coast when they were teens, and reconnected last year during a photo shoot, in which Zushka was Karl’s model.
Here’s their back-story:
Jamaican-born, and raised in The Bronx, NY, Karl, met American-Czech, Zushka, born and raised in Connecticut, on a small beach in Westport, CT, in the summer of 1978.
Although their brief encounter was short-lived, Zushka never forgot about him.
They both consecutively ended up in Arizona in 1989/1990, though neither one of them knew it at the time. They lived within miles of each other in Gilbert in the early 2000’s, yet never met. They lived in Sedona in the early 2010’s, and still hadn’t met.
They had nearly mutual friends in Northern Arizona, yet their paths never crossed. How was it that, after all these years, they reconnected?
Karl, looking for a model for a specific photography shoot in early 2017, searched through dozens of portfolios online and noticed Zushka’s. He kept coming back to hers, noticing something special about her. He emailed her, asking her to model for him.
Zushka checked out Karl’s photography portfolio and agreed to the shoot. Their professional photographer-model relationship had begun.
“When I showed up for the shoot on the morning of April 25th, 2017, I felt like I already knew him, but I didn’t know why. It was like meeting up with a long-lost friend, someone you’ve known forever.”
During the past year Karl and Zushka have worked together on several photo shoots, one of which Karl was Zushka’s lighting assistant, as she was on the other side of the lens as the photographer instead of the model. They enjoy feeding off of one another’s spontaneous creative energies.
“We have cameras with us everywhere we go. Zushka has an artistic creative approach to photography and, while I do too, I also have advanced technical training and a lot of years of experience. Together, we are a great combo,” says Karl. “We spend equal time in Flagstaff and Jerome, since we can work from anywhere. It makes it easy for us because we have photo studios in both cities. We are expanding our businesses by offering our services in Jerome, Flagstaff, Sedona and the Verde Valley.”
What makes their relationship unique is their ability to combine work and play, not to mention their childhood meeting. Photography is their commonality and it is what they each love to do.
“I can’t imagine a day without taking a photo or two… or ten. We hike in Sedona, walk around downtown Flagstaff and hang out on The Steps of Jerome. Wherever we are, we meet interesting characters, and see amazing sunsets and landscapes, old buildings and motorcycles, and we watch bands play at local places. I love capturing the moments, and it’s great to be with someone who loves it just as much as I do.” says Zushka.
Red Bench Photo Studio’s monthly Photography Workshops and KFM Design’s Photo Classes are beginning to expand to both locations.
What’s in store for the future for Karl and Zushka? “I see us traveling, venturing out into the world with our cameras. I’m a writer, so I see a combination of photography and writing, maybe a coffee-table book. We’re in our early-50’s and in good health. We’re not about to start a family, we’ve already done that, or settle down into one place just yet,” says Zushka.
Whatever it was that brought these two together, they are proof that life can be exciting and new as 50-something year-olds. Creative projects can continue to expand and relationships can progress in ways unknown. For it is in the unknown that life’s mystery flourishes.
Get to know these two by following them here: