Dad, son, brother, entrepreneur, wedding professional, photographer, and now educator.
We sat down with Richard Harris aka Alexander Martin, one of the Get Creative Studios Ambassador Photographers to get the 411 on his story and what cool things he has coming up here at Get Creative and beyond.
Everyone has a story but some stories have a few more layers to them then others. Well, Alexanders Martin's story has a lot of layers that have led him to where he is at today. See Alexander Martin is actually Richard Harris and Richard Harris begin his journey behind the camera as a dj. A dj? What does that have to do with becoming a photographer? Growing up as a kid, Richard loved the electronic music of Detroit and Chicago in the 80s and fell in love with the art of scratching, mixing, and djing. Through the years as a dj, Richard's success began to grow and with that success was a lot of traveling. He expressed how important having a family was and this much traveling and lifestyle was not something he felt was important enough to give up his desire to raise children and spend time with his family. Still having the desire to Dj, Richard soon found his way in to djing a lot of weddings. Over many years of success running a high volume, multi-dj business he was able to meet some really cool photographers and found a value in the artistic presentation of a wedding. He also laughed and mentioned an extra bonus was the photographers always left the wedding a lot earlier than he did as a dj lol. Now, he was very clear that he did have a little background in photography as a kid in 4h and always felt that composition felt natural. His business was managing hundreds of weddings a year and throughout his experience he knew weddings like the back of his hand. It was just the technical and logistical side of the photography that was yet need to be overcame.
Should a dj run out and buy a camera and start a photography business? What?
In 2003, Richard made the investment and fell in love with the Nikon brand. Still to this day his camera bag is filled with Nikon cameras and lenses. He spent hours every day after buying his first camera set up. A Nikon D70 and an sb800 and sb600. Not a bad set up for the time but the two flash set up was scary, he couldn't figure things out and his recourses were very limited so he did what many of us do and just stuck the flash on the camera and made the best of it. "Looking back I really feel that's why I'm so passionate about knowing how to use light. I know how it feels to fail and be lost. Literally cared to use them and felt dumb when I didn't get it", he said. Because of his business already managing such a large number of weddings, the photography side of the business took off. Richard shot 37 weddings his first year and soon brought on a team of the best, most experienced photographers he knew. He felt seeing many different things within each photographer and learning from their experiences to create his own processes and systems was so much better than just trying stuff and seeing what worked and what didn't.
Over many years, Richard mentioned with a sigh, he learned how to use natural light, bounce light, and use an onboard flash in ways it was probably never intended to be used. Finally, about 5 years ago, he said it was time to become the photographer he really wanted to be and to do that he needed to have as much, if not complete control over his lighting in every situation he could. To do that, learning and mastering off camera flash with multiple lights was a must. It wasn't an easy journey not knowing the best yet affordable triggers to get, do they work with my flash? Do I have to buy all new flashes? Soooo many AA batteries, Why isn't that one flashing? These are all questions he was very emotional about because he said it's so frustrating. Richard mentioned a few times throughout the interview how resourceful Youtube has been and still, but Youtube doesn't talk back or always help you directly with your specific issue. "You'll have a really hard time learning and really understanding light when your equipment isn't performing correctly and consistently. This is one of those don't buy what you want, invest into the things you need." Many photographers or maybe even all photographers are hesitant when spending money on things that isn't going to help them. "Why spend money on flashes and triggers when they don't work properly or you don't properly know how to work them", he relied with a laugh. Richard talked about how technology has really came a long way and as artists having the right colors and brushes will give us a better ability to paint our picture. From talking with Richard, we've learned that knowing your gear and being confident in your gear will allow you to focus more on the creative aspects of creating the perfect image, just as you envisioned it to look.
In recent years, in his path of finding his most creative style he has found his way into the world of photo manipulation and digital artistry as well as his continued journey to master light and shadows to create a story for his viewers. As the owner of Limelight Weddings, Richard has a great team of photographers and is trying to slow down from his 50 plus weddings a year schedule that he has been doing for almost two decades now. Focussing his attention on his new Alexander Martin brand and being a intricate part of Get Creative Studios here in Lansing. Focussing on destination and more artistic weddings and educating other photographers and business owners sharing the knowledge and experiences he has learned over the past 30 years.
He'll be leading a series of workshops called "Get Lit" to help Get Creative Studio members and attendees how to use and get the most out of a one off camera flash set up. We are also really looking forward to his sales and branding workshops. Visit him on Instagram at www.Instagram.com/AlexM.Imagery and be sure to join our mailing list to stay up to date on our Summer 2022 Grand Opening and all the creative workshops, stylized shoots, photography groups and everything you need to Get Creative and be your best photographer.