The Dorn-Severini Historic Photography Collection

The Dorn Family Businesses

By Nicholas Testa and Graciela St. Onge

In 1937, Daniel W. Dorn, Sr. opened Dorn's Photography Shop and its sister business, Dorn's Photography Unlimited, on Wallace Road in Red Bank. One arm of the business did commercial photography, one sold photography equipment. The business even had its own plane, which the Dorns used for aerial photography. In the 1940s, Dorn purchased the antique glass plates of two esteemed local photographers, Andrew Coleman and Charles Foxwell. 

Daniel W. Dorn Jr. took over the family business in 1972 (though many members of the immediate and extended family worked there over the years). The business remained open, serving the local community, until 2004. 

Daniel W. Dorn's sister, Kathy Dorn Severini, and her husband, George, assumed control of the photography archive in 2005. 

As Dorn, Jr., once noted: “’Our photos that we have taken, the aerial photos, portraiture we’ve done, they are hanging in houses all over this area. Everybody has a piece of Dorn’s – maybe somewhere in their photo album. My father shot a wedding, I shot their kids’ wedding, and Kathy and Jim shot their grandkids’ wedding…Our pictures will live on forever. The classic photos we’ve accumulated from other photographers and the ones we took will live forever."

Did you know? Dorn’s Photo Shop was easily identifiable by their iconic sign, built in 1941 by General Neon Company of Red Bank. It was shaped like the Kodak folding camera that was extremely popular during the 1920s! Today, condos stand on the site, but in 2008 a "Dorn's Way" sign was added to the intersection to mark the spot. The Dorn's famous camera sign now lives at Fantastic Signs on Shrewsbury Ave in Red Bank.