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Photos, friends and finish lines

If one is looking for Alex Shoob to stand around and boast about his accomplishments, they’ll be waiting a pretty long time.

First, good luck to an individual getting five free minutes of Shoob’s time. Fortunately for us at the 209 Magazine, amidst a number of things going on, Shoob was able to pause for a moment and share a bit of his story.

Alex Shoob is “the” Shoob of Shoob Photography. The Modesto-based photography business which was first started in Turlock in 1918 by Shoob’s grandfather. His father Alex Shoob, Sr., acquired the business in 1945 and in 1976, Alex took the reins.

“I attempted to run away from it,” Shoob admitted of the family business.

He attended college at Cornell University, with thoughts of teaching or something along those lines. A return trip home to the 209 his junior year of college, however, altered his course and he’s been capturing smiles for families ever since.

“I got involved in it and never went back,” he said.

The magic captured at Shoob Photography is a very specific niche. His staff of 25 photographers reports to schools throughout the 209 and now some into the Bay Area to take the always-coveted school portraits for schools and their families. They don’t do weddings, commercial work or anything of the sort. Shoob is strictly school photography.

“We are just overwhelmed with work,” Shoob said of current business demands. “It’s a little stressful right now but we’re getting through it bit by bit.”

There are, though, no complaints about work or even what comes with it. The long-term business owner shared a transition from site software to software in “the cloud” has added a kink in the fine-oiled machine he’s been at the helm of for going on 47 years.

As the developer of the original software 30 to 40 years ago, the transition was needed.

“The software we used to use evolved over 40 years and it dealt with all the little ins and outs of school and now transitioning that to the web, a lot of things had to be redone,” Shoob shared.

And while he confesses to working an exorbitant amount, Shoob does find time to spend with his growing family as well as take in a run – or three – each week.

“I enjoy what I’m doing. It’s a challenge,” he said of the business. “As stressful as this fall has been, it’s been very exciting to develop all this new software and do things.”

While work is his passion, something years later he still honestly enjoys the challenge of, at the age of 60 he realized something had to change. A visit with his doctor showed the busy business man, husband and father had packed on 40 unwelcome pounds. His health was not good. After some discussion with his doctor, it was decided he could prescribe a number of medications or Shoob could lose some weight. He decided to try the latter.

“All of us know that stuff, but somehow it just clicked with me,” he said of his doctor’s frankness. “I got very lucky. I started going to the gym and ran into a trainer I had a good rapport with. I started running and ran into a group of people that were with Shadow Chase running group.”

The running connection has proven to be the most beneficial.

“They’ve been just wonderfully supportive,” Shoob continued. “At first I couldn’t keep up with them and I got stronger and faster and went out ahead of them.”

When Shoob first joined the group, many were running marathons, so he decided to give it a try as well. Starting with a few half marathons and eventually qualifying for the Boston Marathon in 2010. He has run Boston six times to date, including 2013 when the Boston bombing occurred.

Since first beginning, the avid runner shared he’d always set goals for himself. One being to qualify for Boston, another to break the 4-hour finish time at Boston.

Yet age somehow catches us and Shoob had some heart issues which resulted in the placement of a couple of stints. His fastest Boston time, 4 hours, 4 minutes.

“I’ve never run really well since then,” he shared of continuing his hobby post-surgery. “Sort of depressing. My odds of getting back to Boston are slim to none, but I continue to run 10 to 15 miles a week. The amount you have to do to be healthy is pretty minimal.”

Shoob shared he still enjoys his time running with the Shadow Chase crew.

“Running is one of the few sports that has a very social side. You can’t chat when you’re in the pool swimming,” he said laughing.

“It’s just very, very exhilarating when it goes well,” he continued, speaking of running a certain pace or achieving a time goal.

Tips for future runners or even someone looking to start moving to drop some unwanted weight, Shoob offers, “I would say find a group. Find a group of people to run with and then have a schedule with them.”

As someone who works seven days a week, 10- to 11-hour days, the hobby gets him outside and among friends.

“It gets me away from the business,” he confessed. “I’m very wrapped up in the business. It’s very, very good for me to get out of here.”