What inspired you to start taking photographs, and what is the primary inspiration for you to keep working in this field?
I started to take photographs as a junior in high school. I was originally signed up to take Art but the class was full so I took photo instead. I instantly took to it and it was something that I felt I intuitively did well - and this gave me a certain confidence as I certainly was no different that most teenagers looking for a way to fit in and identify themselves in the larger world around them.
My photography teacher in high school was also very encouraging. I applied to art schools or schools with a photography curriculum and was accepted into the Department of Photography at NYU. I also worked after school at Magnum and then at a leftist photo co-operative called Impact Visuals in the 1990s. Being in these stimulating environments (especially Magnum) inspired me to get to work on my own projects and eventually led me to pursue a freelance career.
What keeps me inspired and working is simply that I love doing it. I really enjoy looking at people and places and making photographs of them. I feel anxious if I have not done any creative work for over a couple of weeks. That is part of the reason I think I am so productive/prolific. Unfortunately, I suspect that much of the art world generally prefers artists that do not create too much work as they need to keep and maintain the illusion of preciousness around art for the sake of commodity.
In your opinion and experience, how can emerging photographers evaluate themselves as ready to start promoting their works and seek broader exposure for their photographs? What is one vital action you would recommend photographers undertake to find their audience, be included in exhibitions, and gain professional representation?
This is difficult to answer as there are many avenues to pursue. I had the good fortune of meeting a few gallerists to whom I presented my work. Over the years I kept showing them new work. Some of the opportunities came from people that truly understood and appreciated my work - other ones came from a more calculated business position. Emerging photographers should start promoting themselves when they are confident about what they are doing creatively and can talk seriously and maturely about their work and other art as well. Some people are not good talkers though, so I think in the end the work needs to speak for itself. The vital action for photographers to take is really to focus most on creating strong and inspiring work. The rest honestly is a pretty mechanized set of things everyone knows to do to try to get noticed. Sometimes it works, but most often it unfortunately does not.
How did it come about that you achieved the status of successful, professional photographer? What steps were involved in reaching your level of success?
It depends on how you define success. As far as recognition goes - I was very fortunate to have had my work published by Aperture, a truly respected institution. I still think I am learning and growing as both an artist and a human being. As far as financial success: I think it is a struggle for most photographers at every level of the game. I am sure some of the heavy hitters still want and need a big sale, commission, ad job, or assignment. I really think this question is one of perspective; I look at other photographers who I see as being much more successful than I am. And I know that other photographers see me as a "successful" photographer. What I'd rather people think about me is that however much or little my work is noticed in the commercial realm, the work I created was successful from an aesthetic/artistic standpoint. That I made a photograph and someone looked at it and said that is something I find beautiful or desirable. That acknowledgment to me is what I think of as success.
Richard Renaldi, Steve and Esther Kirshenmann Farm, Medina, ND
Richard Renaldi, Burke, SD
Richard Renaldi, Curtis Maui, HI
Richard Renaldi, Alex, NY, NY
© all images Richard Renaldi
About this Blog
Two Way Lens is a project designed to inform and inspire emerging photographers wanting to focus their creative output in a way that enhances their chances of finding an audience, being included in exhibitions and ultimately achieving gallery representation. The journey from inspired artist to successful artist is one that is often difficult to negotiate and hard to control. On these pages, I will feature the experiences and opinions of other photographers who I have found inspiring, and hopefully the knowledge they have built in their own experiences will be valuable to all of us finding our own way to sharing our creativity with the wider world.