It hasn’t always been this way, of course. By the time he left school, Richard still had no idea what he wanted to do. He says it was his “warped mind” and “inspiration from the world” that led him in the direction of graphic design and later, photography.

“I worked for an agency first as a graphic designer. When they needed a photographer, I did that. Then I stepped out on my own,” he says.

Since then he’s never looked back. Being based in Hawke’s Bay means Richard has to do it all: portrait, commercial, wedding, fashion and “whatever comes this way” photography occupies most of his time, though his creative shoots are where his heart lies.

“I love my creative work – it keeps me sane,” he says, the inference being that in order to do this type of work you have to be slightly in sane.

“For a photo to be great,” he explains, “it needs to take the viewer to a place where they can’t go, or where they’ve never been. It needs to tell a story and evoke emotion … it should tug heartstrings.”

However, when he is assessing a photo, he also looks at the craft of the photo and the post-production that has gone into it. “It can be a really crap photo otherwise.”

Other than running his own business, Richard also tutors in photography workshops, is looking at starting up his own jewellery label, and judges and competes in photography competitions.

Whilst he has a long list of awards to his name, Richard’s most recent and impressive accolade beats them all: being named the New Zealand Photographer of the Year for 2014 in the Iris Professional Photography Awards. Richard topped the Illustrative category in this year’s awards programme, organised by the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography (NZIPP), and was a finalist in the Portrait Creative category.

Needless to say, reaching that top level was not an easy task.

“You really have to push your own creativity,” Richard says. “It takes hours and hours of my own personal time.”

When the challenges of office work, accounts, marketing, research and education get in the way, however, it can sometimes be hard to find that time.

“Only about five percent of my time is actually having a camera in my hand,” says Richard.

“Nonetheless, seeing and appreciating more than other people do is what keeps me going: the catacombs in Paris when no one else is there, the Eiffel tower at 5am, the Louvre at night or a dust storm in the desert. These are experiences that not many other people ever capture.”

A career in photography is not an easy ride; Richard says it’s a job that you have to really love if you want to be successful. To those talented photographers out there, he says: “Be yourself and don’t be afraid to be an individual – work your own style!”

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