To help answer questions about basic framing and the attachment of wire hangers, which are requirements for entering the Fran Achen show, Jeff McDonald, the Fran Achen show's chairperson, made a basic framing video. This free video covers frame kits: what they include, when to use them, their pros and cons, how to get good results using them, and mounting wire hanging hardware on the back. Most of the class is a how-to demonstration.

Watch the framing video

Two photography workshops will be held during April at the CAC. One of the goals of these workshops is to answer "How-To" questions about creating, selecting, and preparing photos for exhibits like the Fran Achen show. These workshops have been well-received in the past. This year features an expanded format and a third presenter joins the team. William Eklund will be joining Everett Long and Jeff McDonald this year.

Fran Achen
1916 - 2004

The Whitewater Arts Alliance honors Fran Achen's contribution to Whitewater by sponsoring the Annual Fran Achen Photography Competition and Show.

Fran Achen was a longtime Whitewater resident, teacher, and local photographer. He is most remembered for his photographic collection which chronicles the history of Whitewater.

Born in Kenosha in 1916, his interest in photography began after high school. He spent almost two years delivering cars for the Nash automobile factory. "It seemed like such fun to explore America, so that started my interest in photography and geography, which became my major in college," he said.

In 1938, when Fran enrolled at Whitewater State Teachers College, it was the first year enrollment went over one thousand. Fran remembered being the last one to register, making the enrollment that year 1,008 students. While an undergraduate student at the college, he served as a photographer for both the Royal Purple and the former Minneiska yearbook, as well as working as a freelance photographer for the Janesville Gazette, making "a buck a picture" which helped to pay his way through school.

While attending college, Fran met his wife, Lydia. They were married for 55 years and had three children - Chap, Randi, and Jim.

After graduating from college Achen taught social studies for a year before being called up for military service in World War II. Achen served almost four years as the commanding officer of an entirely African American medical unit whose primary duty was to recover wounded soldiers from the front lines. Achen recalled years later that the Rhineland and Central Europe campaign was very successful and remembered crossing the Rhine River just two days after its capture.

When the war was over he pursued his interest in photography by working in a studio in Madison, and later by purchasing a photography studio in downtown Whitewater, where he worked for 11 years.

In 1956, after selling the studio, Achen continued to serve the community as a teacher at Whitewater High School where he taught his favorite subject, geography. He later became assistant audio-visual director for the Janesville school system. Achen retired in 1979. However, he never retired his camera. He continued to photograph the life and events in and around the Whitewater area.

In the 1980s Achen donated nearly 400 custom printed and mounted photographs to the Irvin L. Young Memorial Library. The University of Wisconsin - Whitewater also has an extensive collection of Fran's photos. Although his photo taking slowed down in his later years, Achen said he was never afraid to flip the shutter on what he believed could be a lasting memory or a special photograph.