Every amateur photographer knows the sensation.

In a darkroom illuminated by eerie red lights and infused with strange-smelling fixers and stop baths, there's an immense sense of awe the first time that a black-and-white image appears — seemingly out of nowhere — on a previously blank piece of photo paper floating in a shallow developing tray.

For many, that is the moment when the photography bug bites.

Charles "Tuck" Krehbiel of Indian Hill remembers it well. He was about 20, tinkering in his father's darkroom, when the bug bit hard. Twenty-seven years later, Krehbiel's office at CJK in Fairfax is decorated with photographs he's collected over the years. His home is similarly graced with other works of art — more than 100 watercolors, figures and prints.

Krehbiel is CEO of CJK, which until March was known as C.J. Krehbiel Co., a fifth-generation printing firm. He and his wife, Deb, a Skidmore College art major, began collecting art soon after they married, and the hobby has turned into a lifelong passion.

Among their first finds: six photogravures (appropriate for a printer's son) from Camera Works published in the 1900s by famed photographer Alfred Stieglitz.

"Once I started," Krehbiel says, "it was somewhat a labor of love to start a collection and develop a theme." Over the years, he's added fashion photos and dramatic figure works to the landscapes and scenic images that attracted him as a young adult.

During vacations and business travel, Krehbiel visits art galleries in Chicago, New York and San Francisco, looking for styles and artists he likes. He's established a network of art dealers who know his preferences and, lately, he's found a few choice pieces on eBay.

His favorites? Mainboucher Corset, a striking black-and-white print by German photographer Horst P. Horst, and Drapes Nude by Ruth Bernard.

"They have the same wonderful tonal range in black and white, which is very exciting," Krehbiel says. "For those who collect black-and-white photography, they understand what I'm responding to."

Most of his favorites, by artists that include Henry Rolfe, Lillian Bassman, Margaret Dahl-Wolfe, Ferenc Berko and Tom Schiff, now hang in his study. "I can change images by subject matter and mood, or even by season if the weather is too bleak," he says.

Krehbiel is a trustee of the Art Academy, where he's taken drawing and photography classes. But it's the art of collecting — and the art itself — that maintains his interest.

"If I need to relax," he says, "I'd rather look at my photographs than out the window."