Student Profile Richie Wessen
City: Sydney, Australia
Wessen's interest in photography began with an interest in lenses, microscopes and other general optics products.
"My father was a science teacher at high school and together we would often do small projects that were related to light reflections and refractions and color separations with light prisms, crystals or various forms of circular lenses," he said. He was fascinated by all this, and built his first periscope at age eight, with an interest in optics that then led him to photography.
"I still remember my first photograph was a landscape photo of the Grand Canyon when I was on holiday at the age of ten. I used a very old 35mm semi-automatic camera that my dad gave me when he bought a new model for the trip," he said.
Wessen's interest in photography continued, until he was taking photos in a way that became a kind of diary of events. "Having the pictures and record of the time gives me a way to reflect and re-experience the time where and when the shot was taken. This is a theme that I have always carried forward when talking to people about photography."
Now, Wessen runs his own photography business, Vision2Solution Photography, based in Sydney, Australia. While the primary part of his business grew out of his love of photography, the other side of it involves interactive marketing and e-business consulting, allowing him to offer more services to his clients.
Photography continues to captivate Wessen. "Photography is an ever- changing field and that makes it a field continually yielding new and exciting challenges. My favorite aspect of photography is looking at a scene before taking a picture and visualizing what I want it to look like in the camera.," he said. "This could be angles of view in a landscape, positioning a subject in an outdoor portrait or capturing a fast moving fighter jet so it nearly fills a frame with the pilot visible. I take great pleasure in planning and executing shots like this where composition is important."
When it came time for Wessen to pursue additional training in the field, he had several reasons for choosing NYI. First, the school's reputation in the industry drew him; Wessen noticed that mention of NYI appeared on many independent blogs, and was regarded highly. Second, the course outline was detailed, and showed the Course to be well-rounded and broad. The competitive pricing and the NYI Press Card were added benefits.
"NYI was really a course that rounded out my rough edges in photography," he said. He found that in taking the Course, he was able to perfect his studio lighting, his portraits, and his facial analyses.
Wessen finds challenges in the work, such as handling outdoor lighting and weather changes, which can drastically affect a shot. "I had this situation when doing an assignment for the Course," he told us. "We were asked to produce a shot showing texture using 90 degree lighting from the sunrise or sunset. When I was due to take the shot, we had a spell of rain that lasted about six weeks, making this effectively impossible to shoot based on the original schedule. This kind of problem comes up in professional situations too, where time pressure is often high."
Wessen's work also involves helping his clients stay focused. "Typically the smaller client has many ideas and doesn't give time to 'play out the scenario' and make the ideas into executable plans. This is a common situation for people in the creative positions, so it takes soft skills and general facilitation to keep them focused. This is not unique to photography work, though I have found it to be more frequent when engaging on photography assignments."
Wessen has found that there are some principles that help him work with his clients, and which help his clients, in turn, to be more successful.
"Photography, like many other things, is a field that requires a good balance of technical skills, creative awareness and people management. Being comfortable articulating your skills and value to prospective clients in a balanced and humble way is critical to establishing the necessary foundation upon which a business relationship can flourish. I would recommend to anyone intending to enter the photography business to do five things," he said.
- Define what you believe to be the five points you can deliver to prospective clients.
- Phrase those in a way a prospective client would be able to understand.
- Create a one-minute "elevator pitch" based on points 1 and 2.
- Rehearse the "elevator pitch" in front of the mirror or with family/friends to refine it and make it second nature.
- Actively introduce yourself at places/events and when people ask you what you do, give your elevator pitch.
The ability to succinctly and clearly articulate what you can offer to other people is something that can be learned and perfected and is key to generating and developing business.
And he should know: with his business doing so well, Wessen is now increasing the size of his online gallery and writing more articles and books about photography while continuing to service his existing clients.
You can see more of Wessen's work at http://www.photo.vision2solution.com.au