2019 President for Texas PPA
by Zach McIntoch
Ross Benton is many things… husband, father, photographer, business leader, volunteer, and a person of deep faith. In all the hats he wears and tasks he accomplishes, Ross seeks to do so with a sense of priority – keeping first things first.
There is some ancient wisdom from Jesus that describes how Ross seeks to live his life. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reminds us, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19-20)
Much is embedded in this passage, but at its root, Jesus invites us to center our lives on what matters most by focusing on those things that actually lasts. So often, we wind up wasting our time on things that stroke our egos, inflame our anger, or make us a quick profit. But Jesus reminds us that what feels critically important today will turn out to be easily disposable tomorrow. Jesus’ wisdom is something Ross tries to keep in mind as he goes about his day-to-day life. Those words call him back – again and again – to the truly significant things of life. As he begins his term as TPPA President, here are some things that truly matter to him.
Above all, Ross values his faith. He has made it his highest goal in life to live for something larger than this life. Whenever he snaps a picture, his faith encourages him not only to look at his work technically – looking at lighting and shadowing and positioning and coloring – but also artistically. Photography is meant to capture beauty and Ross cannot help but think that there is Someone behind all the beauty he photographs who has worked caringly and lovingly to craft and create a magnificence that people could have never conceptualized or composed by themselves.
Ross’s faith is not only personal, it is also communal. He is an active member of Concordia Lutheran Church on the north side of San Antonio, where he lives. This bustling congregation has provided him with great friends, indelible memories, biblical and practical teaching, and is committed to providing a fun, family-oriented environment.
Along with his faith, he is also devoted to his family. He is a proud husband and father. His wife, his son, and his daughter have taught him lessons about tenderness and strength, patience and joy. The pictures that he treasures the most are the ones he holds of his family not only in the archives of his camera, but in the deepest places of his heart. No matter how crowded and complicated his schedule can sometimes become in his professional life, he tries to keep his priorities straight: God first, his wife second, his children next…and then all the other stuff. This is not to say that “all the other stuff” is unimportant, but it is to say that if he does not feel good about who he is at home, he will not feel good about who he is as a photographer. Whenever he does a session with a client, he always aims to give them more than a photo package. He tries to provide them with a time to make a memory with their family. This is why making memories with his own family is so important to him.
One of the ways Ross has been able to make great memories with his family is through his service to the San Antonio Livestock Show and Rodeo. Since its inception, the rodeo has donated more than $198 million to Texas youth through scholarships, grants, and endowments. He began volunteering for the rodeo in 2009 as part of the hospitality team where, each year, he gets to help folks find their way around the grounds to make sure they see all their favorite events. His son, Brock, recently began volunteering with him, and his wife, Brandyce, works with the calf scramble. In the past two years, the Calf Scramble Committee has raised over $800,000 for youth scholarships, with the Benton family raising $170,000 of that. There is nothing like watching a child’s eyes light up after being presented with a scholarship that will help ensure a great education and give him or her a leg up in life!
Even though Ross’s life comes with a crowded calendar, he tries to make it a priority to find at least a little time to pursue some fun hobbies. He enjoys cooking and, as a dyed-in-the-wool Texan, he has a special affection for smoking great barbecue. For Ross, there is something very special about being able to share a meal with others. Some of his most precious memories involve the Benton family and their best friends, the Schrievers, sitting down to some delicious food and watching their kids play together.
When it comes to his career, photography is more than just a job. It is a calling. Ross is blessed to have been able to learn under some amazing photography mentors at the Texas School, IUSA, and, of course, the TPPA organization. When he thinks about all the time these mentors have poured into him, he can’t help but want to share what he has learned with others. Teaching classes and serving on the board of TPPA gives him the joy and privilege of not only sharing his knowledge, but watching others succeed.
Anyone who knows Ross is better by virtue of having him as a friend and mentor. Personally, he has been a blessing to me and my family. He has not only captured important moments for me and my family with his camera, he has given me great conversation over coffee and awesome memories by inviting my wife and me to the San Antonio Rodeo as well as to Spurs games. I am delighted by all that Ross has accomplished and am proud to call him a friend.
Over these next few months, Ross is looking forward to sharing with you some of the things he has learned that will hopefully be of benefit to you. But he is also looking forward to learning from you and walking with you so that, together, everyone can get better – not just in photography, but for the sake of all the clients the photography industry serves.