Cover Story

Edward Zemba

Age 35. Co-owner, Robert Charles Photography

Ed Zemba has one of those mental to-do lists that people take with them through life, and he’s managed to draw lines through many of the items on it — like scuba diving and skydiving.

The latter was a father-son undertaking, and Zemba entered it thinking he wanted to go solo, or as close to that as he could. Most first-timers do what’s called tandem jumping, where they’re essentially strapped to an expert who does most of the work involved. “You’re just along for the ride,” said Zemba, who took a different tack, involving what are known as “spare tires,” experts who hang on to the first-time jumper until the ripcord is successfully pulled and then depart to let the jumper take the trip down alone.

One item not on Zemba’s to-do list, but he did it anyway, was to join the East Longmeadow Rotary Club. He did so before he could legally drink — which was problematic, to be sure — and took large doses of ribbing from club members, who, he said, regarded him almost as a mascot. But he also learned invaluable lessons about life, business, giving back to the community, and being part of a team.

He’s applying all of them as co-owner of Robert Charles Photography in East Longmeadow. Zemba and the other co-owner, brother Robert, purchased the business from their father two years ago after both working at the venture for most of their adult lives. Together, they’re trying to bring consistent, measured growth to a business that focuses on portrait, wedding, and commercial photography.

Both are involved in most aspects of the business, but Ed’s duties are more administrative in nature, while Robert’s are more artistic — he’s one of several who handle the photography for the company, and he’s won a number of awards for his work.

While managing the business, Ed is busy drawing a line through another item on his list — getting a college diploma. He’s enrolled at Western New England College and is making progress toward a business degree. He’s also finding time for his four children; he likes taking each on personalized junkets, and recently took one of them to the New England Air Museum at Bradley Airport.

Hang gliding. That’s still one more thing on that to-do list, and given everything else on Ed Zemba’s plate, it may have to wait a while.