Welcome to the fourth post in our Behind the Lens series! I love getting to know other photographers, and believe in encouraging community over competition. I feature a different local photographer (both professional and hobbyist) each season. The more acquainted you are with all the photographers available, the better you will be able to find the one that suits your style. That’s a good thing for all of us!
I’m delighted to feature Jeff & Penny Richards, of Richards Photography today. You might be familiar with Jeff’s work in the Times Independent. Their beautiful photography, featured below, speaks for itself, but you’ll also enjoy getting to know how they work as a team and getting a glimpse at their lovely family!
How did your passion for photography start/develop?
Jeff: I think it runs in the family. My grandfather was a Navy photographer during World War II and also took many family photos in the years that followed, as did my dad, who always took photos everywhere we went. I loved taking snapshots as a kid, but it wasn’t until I got to college and watched my fellow journalists on the campus newspaper work in the darkroom, that I realized what a handy tool a camera could be for telling stories and documenting history. I have taken countless photographs since then, not really specializing in any one genre or style. Whether I’m capturing action shots on a sports playing field, taking pictures for the local newspaper, or shooting posed portraits, my main goal is to “capture the moment”.
Penny: When I first met Jeff back in 1991, I was working at a portrait studio in a mall, which is where I learned about posing people and getting them to relax and have fun while having their picture taken. In the 20 years since we’ve been married, we’ve taken many photos together. Everything we do is digital now, and our images are hosted in galleries on a website we’ve had for the past five years or so. I especially love shooting weddings and baby pictures.
What’s one of your most recent or favorite photo purchases?
We don’t often buy new equipment, but we did recently pay to have one of our studio lights repaired. We also recently splurged and bought a 20-by-30 inch portrait of our own family that we took last fall, which is now hanging near our front door entryway.
What brought you to Moab? What's the best and worst thing about living and working here?
After working as a school teacher for five years in Salt Lake area, Jeff got a job in Moab for a company that handles correspondence courses for Japanese business professionals. After doing that full-time for eight years, he then went back to teaching school. He’ll start his ninth year at Grand County High School this fall. He also has been a contributing writer and photographer for The Times-Independent, Moab’s weekly newspaper, since 1997, the year we moved here. We also run our photography business from our home. Although it can be hard sometimes having to juggle multiple jobs and schedules, we enjoy the challenge.
What is your favorite kind of photo shoot?
We love doing family group pictures, which usually also involve shooting separate smaller families as well as individuals. Weddings are also fun, even though they involve a lot of work and preparation.
What’s an area of photography where you have seen yourself grow?
We love documenting events as a team, with both of us trying to get the best angles, positions, and lighting. We’ve each learned to play off the other’s preferences and anticipate what shots we’re going to get while the other one is setting up and taking their shots. Our tag-team photojournalistic approach seems to have worked well for us thus far, but we are always striving to improve our skills.
If you could photograph any individual living or deceased, who would it be and why?
Jeff: William Shakespeare would be one of my first choices, as he revolutionized the English language as well as the performing arts, including the development of characters that people can relate to. There are plenty of other historical figures we’d like to meet and photograph. A time machine would be nice. A camera itself can act sort of like a time machine, but unfortunately there are no photographic images before the invention of the camera in the early 1800s.
What are some of the creative ways you’ve found to juggle being a parent/business owner/photographer in Moab?
Both of us work full time in other jobs (Jeff as a school teacher and Penny as a homemaker), but we love making time in the evenings and weekends to take photos. Our girls are all very helpful and supportive too, and they help us with some of the business tasks.
If you were having your family photographed, what location in Moab would you choose?
Some of our favorite spots include the forests of the La Sal Mountains, the wetlands by the Colorado River, and any of the great four-wheeling trails that showcase the stunning red rock boulders and cliffs of this area.
Share with us a favorite recent image and what you love about it.
We have a lot of favorites, of course, but we’ll share three that we think are representative of the work we do. The first is the above-mentioned family portrait, which we took of ourselves in the La Sal Mountains in October of 2012. It is hard to take your own photos with a tripod and timer, but this one turned out very nicely, with the perfect mid-afternoon lighting and the fall leaves. We still get quite a few raves about it whenever people come inside our house. The other image is of our daughter River swimming at a recent meet in Richfield, which we like because it shows the water rippling off her hands and body. The third one we took of our friend Shelly in 2011. She wanted to do something different to surprise her husband on their 20th wedding anniversary, so she dug out her old wedding dress, which still fit her, and had us shoot her wearing it in random places, like a barn, a wheat field, a park, and finally a river. She jumped right in the water for some unexpectedly fun shots!
Random Facts about Jeff & Penny:
Favorite sweet treat: We both love rocky road ice cream and Snickers bars with almonds.
3 things that always make you happy: We love watching our daughters succeed in the various things they do, including swimming, soccer, and many other fun activities. We also like traveling to new and interesting places during family vacations and reunions. We really enjoy playing on the beach! We also enjoy getting away in the outdoors by going fishing or hiking together as a family (taking a camera along, of course).
Thank you, Jeff and Penny, for sharing your perspective and your beautiful images with us. You can learn more about Richards Photography by visiting their Facebook page and see more of their work at Richards Photography.
Behind the Lens graphic created with Kirstin Cronin-Barrow’s Going Places kit. You can learn about other photographers in our Behind the Lens series here. If you are a local photographer and interested in being featured in our Behind the Lens series, please contact me via this link. Thanks!