Richard Esposito is the PhotoBiz.com Featured Photographer of the Month for January 2012
Richard is a 4 time Emmy Award Winner for his work in video editing. His photography has been featured by Nikon in advertorials and seen in Grace Ormande Wedding Style, to name a few. He has won many international awards including WPPI Awards of Excellence and CTPPA’s Court of Honor for wedding image of the year.
Although he is primarily located in Connecticut, traveling is a big part of Richard’s life personally and professionally. He has photographed weddings across the US and the Caribbean. Richard has also spoken at conferences and to photography associations from California to London.
1) Tell us something about your business and how long you’ve been a professional photographer?
I started my business 8.5 years ago. At the time I was an Emmy Award winning editor working for the NBC News affiliate in Boston. I decided in 2003 that wanted to take my photography hobby and turn it into a business. I know that sounds like everyones story! After a few photography jobs I quit my “real” job and moved back to CT to start my own business. I haven’t looked back since! I now photograph weddings across the US and Caribbean, even down to Belize. I do commercial photography for a few companies, started a portrait business last year, and now I’m doing Mitzvah’s. I’ve been speaking to photography groups from California to London and recently spoke at PartnerCon in San Diego.
I’m also known for my organizational/workflow skills, and as a “techie geek.” I’ve taken my knowledge and skills and turned them into a consulting business for photographers. My photographer friends were telling other photographers looking for help “You need RE!”, so the business became INeedRE.com
2) What equipment do you use?
I switched to Nikon last year and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made. I have a D3s, D700, and a D7000 (mostly to do video but it’s an amazing camera too!). I carry 3 SB900‘s with SD-9 battery packs . I have the standard line up of 2.8 lenses 14-24, 24-70, 70-200 VR. I have a Sigma 50mm 1.2 and the Nikon 105mm 2.8 VR Macro.
I have a huge lighting case with 3 Alien Bee’s, Radio Poppers, Vagabond II batteries, 4 sofboxes, umbrellas, and 4 Manfrotto 1004BAC light stands (love these stands!). For travel I have 2 Denny EZ-1 stands for 2 SB800’s with Radio Poppers and 2 Lastolite 24×24 Ezboxes. For wedding receptions I use the same SB800’s but with a Cheetah Speed Pro Bracket, Cheetah AA battery packs, reflector, and barn doors.
3) Where are you located?
Branford, CT. I’m near New Haven and half way between NY City and Boston. Most of my work is an hour south in southern CT and NY.
4) What type of photography do you like to create?
I like to combine aspects of photography. I took lighting ideas from my commercial work and apply it to my wedding work. I love landscape photography, so that plays into my wedding work as well. I’m very focused on composition and subject placement which is sometimes hard to achieve when your trying to be a photojournalist and capture natural emotion and action. I like my photography to be very clean and to the point, yet tell the whole story.
5) Price Range of Events?
Weddings start at $4,600 during the main wedding season and have gone up to $12,000. We do most of our sales after the wedding.
6) When did you notice you had a passion for Photography?
I remember my mom had a film camera, and my dad always seemed to have one too. One day I took my moms film camera and started using it. Then it broke. I bought an early digital camera to replace it. I think it was 2mp? Then when Canon came out with its first digital DSLR I got hooked. With no film I was able to take as many photos as I could and see my results instantly. That was my kind of camera!
7) What is unique to what you do or what you offer?
I’ve been told my photography does stand out because I blend commercial, fashion and fine art photography, especially with my weddings. I light just about everything I can, inside or outside, sun or clouds.
I’m really focused on my customers experience with my business. Word of mouth runs my business so I have to make sure it is the best it could be. But you have to realize that you can’t please everyone all the time and staying true to your brand may be the right option.
8) Most Awkward moment during an event?
Ohhh… splitting my pants. It’s happened twice! And having your second photographer sew you up in the managers office, priceless. If you wear black pants wear black underwear.
9) What is the scariest thing that ever happened during a shoot?
It was a long Greek ceremony and the bridal party was standing on a marble floor. They never moved from their position. One bridesmaid fainted falling like a stiff board, straight back, hitting her head on the marble. She started convulsing. I immediately called 911. And apparently it’s traditional that Greek Orthodox ceremonies do not stop for anything. The priest never skipped a beat.
10) Best advice that you’ve been given in your photography career?
- Create your own style different from everyone else. I work on it every shoot.
- Let go of control. Outsource and hire people who do it better. You can teach someone to do the day to day work and general production work. You’ll gain more time to make more money to pay for them. And you’ll have more time for your family.
- Find you passion, your work will never be truly amazing until it is your passion (thank Rod!)
- Don’t avoid doing something because it is difficult. You’ll learn so much by doing it. Then you’ll exceed.
- Build your business to live the life of your design. Visualize it, set goals, and you will achieve it.
11) Best advice that you could give someone else that is pursuing a photography career?
Learn your craft, learn your equipment. “P” mode is not for “Professional”! Educate yourself constantly. I personally learn a lot sitting in on print competition judging. Learn what makes a great photograph. And when people ask me where they should go to school for photography I tell them somewhere that also teaches business and marketing because you’ll be more of a business owner than a photographer.
Being featured in a Nikon advertorial in Rangefinder Magazine this past August. I was completely honored! Before that I was awarded wedding photo of the year by CTPPA.
13) How many sessions/events do you do each year?
This year I had 27 weddings, 14 commercial jobs, 10 events, 29 portrait sessions, and 2 full video production jobs. I had 5 speaking engagements and 2 workshops. I also spent 49 days on the road.
14) Have you changed anything to adjust in the current economic times?
Absolutely. I changed how we do our wedding collections, focused on sales sessions, and diversified our services. I took a close look at our business expenses and even made new business policies for future clients. We noticed in the last 6 months of the year we spent $1,300 on shipping and postage. We now ask that clients come in to pick their products or we add shipping costs. Anytime you order from anywhere there are shipping charges. Why didn’t we have them?
15) Describe your shooting style:
We’ve heard the term “spray and pray.” I’m the opposite of that, a sniper. I anticipate and patiently wait for the right time to take a photo. I make sure my settings are right, lighting is right and try to capture the perfect image in the camera. I never say to myself “I’ll fix it in photoshop” or “it will be better once it is processed.”
I’m a very quiet photographer too. With weddings I like to watch what is going on, see the story taking place, and start capturing it. I don’t often try to create a situation or even want to be part of it. I’m there to capture life as it happens. With portraits and commercial work I try to make people comfortable being photographed and let them be natural. I will only make verbal suggestions if I want them to do something specific like bring their shoulder down.
I've taken 1000's of photos over the last 30 years in Alaska - of people, places, and at events. Some have actually sold, but most were taken for simple personal pleasure. But now, I have a purpose! I want to be better, not necesarily to make money, although I'd not say no to that, but to leave a living journal for my grandchildren, whom I will not know. I'm ready, willing and still able ... but don't know what cameras, lights, classes, books, etc to start off with. Time to learn! Thanks for sharing; your input is invaluable. Best of luck to you but somehow, I don't think you will need it. You have talent, and that supercedes luck any day!
Thank you for your self-disclosure and sharing the insight it gives to others. Your personal experience is very helpful!