Student Success: Student Profile Richard Ruperto
Student Name: Richard Ruperto
City: Kansas City, MO
How did you first become interested in photography?
I have always had an interest in photography. I can remember being a kid and playing with my Dad's Yashica Twin Reflex. I have always enjoyed taking pictures and sharing them with friends. Friends and family always said that I should be a photographer some day!
Why NYI for your training?
I had seen the ads when I was a kid. A few years ago I decided to take the course as a personal challenge to see if I had what it took to be a photographer. I also was on a quest to learn more about all the theory and science behind the lens and film. While the support of family and friends was great, I wanted a more professional and unbiased opinion about my pictures.
What do you enjoy most about being a photographer?
That is a hard question since there are so many things I enjoy about what I do! I really do enjoy seeing my clients' reaction to the work I do for them. It can be a portrait of them, their children or their wedding; knowing that I captured them in a way that tells their story brings me satisfaction. It is all about the customer, after all.
What are some of the more difficult challenges in your work?
Night time weddings in the winter! Lighting is always a challenge, especially when you are not allowed flash photography in the location. I think another challenge we all face as photographers is differentiation. How do I get a potential client to choose me for their work? It's also challenging staying abreast of all that is new, and continuing one's education. That and careful examination of what others in your area of specialization are doing.
How did you get your first paying job in photography?
My first paying job was for a friend's wedding. They had seen countless hours of my slideshows I made from my work. I would make DVDs with pictures, many of them digital, and mix them with music. At our get togethers we would always put one of my DVDs in for background music and something to gaze at every now and then. My friends were getting married on an island, and there were no photographers on the island, so they approached me and I agreed. It was great traveling to Staniel Cay for the wedding. After that, I started doing portraits, special events and then another wedding for a friend in Cancun. Once I got my Certificate of Graduation from NYIP, I put up a Web site and had some business cards printed. I was a featured artist at my previous corporate job. They selected twelve artists a year and each had a one month showing on a gallery wall. There were forty thousand employees at the company at that time.
How has your NYI training helped you?
The training has helped me in many ways! It provided a solid foundation on all the mechanics, theory and physics of photography. It presented me with challenges and practice while providing solid feedback on projects. Telling my potential clients that I am a NYIP graduate does have a positive influence on their decision. It also helps when I show them my NYI Merit Award for my first assignment for my picture of a bee. That picture hangs in studio along with the award. When I show them that picture in the NYIP commercial, it always seals the deal!
Feedback from the course validated what my friends and family had said. So I started building my studio and equipment while doing the photography part time. Late in 2007, I decided that I am a photographer and I left my corporate job! I can say that I am very happy and only wish I had done this many years ago!
How did you come up with the idea for your business?
It was a result of the dissatisfaction with wedding photographers when my wife and I got married. We were able to find a great photographer, but it was not easy! There was so much confusion on pricing and the packages that is was discouraging. We also noticed that all the albums looked alike. When I decided to focus on weddings, I went to several wedding shows and studied all the packages and products out there. I took them home and after some serious analysis, I put together some simple packages with simple pricing. I put some albums together form my previous weddings, made a few large prints, a slideshow, some postcards and then joined a local bridal marketing group where I was able to participate in my first wedding show.
My research paid off! I was told not to expect any bookings from my first few wedding shows. I walked out with three signed contracts and had many leads. Now some of those leads are signed and I am getting ready for more weddings. I have started getting referrals from other vendors I worked with at other weddings, so I must be doing something right!
What's next for you?
Hard to say! I enjoy the weddings! It gives me artistic freedom and challenge. I love all the people I meet and enjoy giving them something different! I might start trying to build my portraiture clientele for families. I do offer my wedding clients discounts on all future work. I always make it a point to show them my "mom" series of pictures. I continue to learn each day and try something new.
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