Contributed by R Wagner Photography
I never dreamt of being a photographer. I’ve always taken pictures, but until recently I never thought of doing it professionally. I grew up with a darkroom in my basement and plenty of manual cameras that my dad used to photograph my siblings and I growing up. To this day it is still a family tradition to hull the slide projector out and have fun watching them together while now sharing those captured experiences with my nieces, nephews and extended family. Most of the pictures are candid and we love pointing out each other’s shortcomings, as siblings often do. Throughout college I worked in a photography lab, honing my technical skills, and even then I didn’t recognize photography as a calling … that is until 2007 when a co-worker whom I was traveling with at the time asked me to photograph her wedding in Southern France. After photographing that wedding and receiving such positive responses, I was addicted. I photographed several more in rapid succession and went full time in March of 2008. Wedding photography really brings many things that I am interested in together: traditions; personalities; sociology; food; family; travel and photography.
Four years ago I was working at a multi-national pharmaceutical company and I wasn’t unhappy. I liked the company, my position, the people and the security, but I was complacent and wanted something more. My job there allowed me to travel to more than 20 countries and work with a multitude of people with varying backgrounds all over the world. What I didn’t know at the time was that this job would be a perfect training ground for becoming a wedding photographer. My corporate job was a perfect primer to bring me to where I am today as it helped me to appreciate different people and cultures, and taught me how to communicate effectively and manage my own business.
The sexy part of being a photographer (actually taking the pictures) came naturally to me. Coupling this natural talent with my experience in the corporate world turned out to be a successful combination. To be a successful entrepreneur you need to be able to draw upon your experiences and fully utilize all that you are. I am inspired by those who continually take risks, but at the same time I realize that running a business while doing one’s passion takes a measure of solid, sustained effort. If doing what you love were easy, it probably wouldn’t be fun.
When I first began, I expected hurdles, disappointments and struggle and, to be honest, that has not changed; what has changed are the types of hurdles that I encounter. You set goals (for me those goals were to get published, achieve a certain level of income, win awards, etc.) and you meet those goals, leaving you with a taste for more. I’ve been fortunate enough to reach and exceed many of my goals and this has given me the hunger to aim higher and to push on to achieve more. In my opinion, I don’t think you can really be successful by standing still or letting things come to you – you have to stretch and take risks – artistically, financially and most importantly emotionally. In so doing there are always bumps in the road, but being too comfortable is the worst place to be.
I only have one policy: no excuses! I don’t know how many times a day I hear that we live in a more competitive environment, the economy is down, or there are a 100 people doing exactly what I’m doing right down the street. The truth is, I’m the only one that can do what I do the way I do it and I concentrate on what it is that I do that makes me unique.
What keeps me up at night? When I’m inspired, I’ll work until I drop, and what inspires me the most is working with great couples. When I first started out, I thought success was photographing an exclusive location or a famous couple but now I strive to capture the smallest details about each of the people that I am fortunate to work with. It’s not about the location or how extravagant a wedding may be; it’s the couple’s beauty and their inner light that I strive to capture. Secondary to the actual photograph is what is going on in the photograph – do the photographs tell who they are and what happened at their wedding? When I get it right, when I understand a couple, when I capture a moment at their wedding and I’m able to document that moment beautifully, its like a drug…. and that’s why I do what I do!
Check out my new website and blog: www.rwagnerphotography.com
Conde Nast Brides Magazine named Robert Wagner among “The Best New York Photographers“
R Wagner Photography
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