Star Sign: Leo
Currently reading: Marvel’s X:Men – House of X
Hopes his last meal will be: Won Ton Soup, white rice and chicken.
Ritchie Riekerk is a freelance photographer and backing singer. Along with being a wedding photographer together with his wife, he does lifestyle- and fashion shoots.
When did you first know that this was your calling?
Since I can remember, I always enjoyed taking photos. I never could have believed I would be able to make this my profession. It wasn’t until after my first wedding shoot that I started to think that I had to continue down this path. My biggest passion has always been singing and for the last 20 years that was mostly what I was doing.
How did you get your business off the ground?
My wife Heidi and I were invited to attend our friend’s wedding in the south of France 5 years ago. It was a 3-day wedding with everything you could expect from a destination wedding in a remote French villa. They asked Heidi (who’s a photographer too) if she was able to take some photos during the ceremony. You just can’t have a 3-day wedding and end up with only a few photos from the ceremony to remember it by. So long story short, we ended up shooting their complete wedding as a wedding gift from us to them.
During our flight home, we couldn’t stop talking about how fun it was to work together and how ‘natural’ it felt. We asked ourselves why shouldn’t we start shooting weddings together? Since then, together as ‘The Wedding Couple’ we’ve shot around 25 to 30 weddings per year over the last 3 years.
From that moment on, I started to do photography for Vondelgym in Amsterdam. I found it hard at first to discover what I wanted to do besides weddings. What I did know was that I enjoy taking pictures of people. So after a time of doing all kinds of different photography, I focused on lifestyle/fashion shoots. My m.o. is usually finding a specific style and location and then let it come naturally.
I told her that it felt like a jam session with a singer and the band – you try to find each other’s rhythm, try to find a great melody, and in the end, you end up with a great song. That’s how it felt like shooting – you try to connect and in the end, you end up with great photos. The photos are the outcome of a great interaction between the model and photographer.
What makes your company unique?
I’ve been struggling with that question myself. It’s hard not to get insecure about your work when you see so many talented people on Instagram for example. I kept comparing myself to so many others. It always felt like I was reinventing myself time and time again just to find my unique style. That was until I did a shoot with a fellow musician. During the shoot, we were talking about singing and how she enjoyed that shoot because we were just walking through the dunes and on the beach and looking for places where the light would be at its best or the location was great for the photos. I told her that it felt like a jam session with a singer and the band – you try to find each other’s rhythm, try to find a great melody, and in the end, you end up with a great song. That’s how it felt like shooting – you try to connect and in the end, you end up with great photos. The photos are the outcome of a great interaction between the model and photographer.
Before I was trying to find one unique style, one unique edit, etc. But now I edit my photos based on the feeling/mood I get looking at the picture. My wife calls it Mood Inspired Editing 🙂
I love posed shots but the pictures taken ‘in-between takes’ are usually the ones which I love most. That’s the moment you catch someone off guard and freeze that moment in which they are truly themselves.
What is the biggest challenge for you as an entrepreneur?
Marketing. I ‘hate’ Instagram :-). I hate feeling like I HAVE to post a new picture every day, at a specific time, with the correct hashtags, and if I can, with a question at the end of my post to gain more engagement. But I have too. Despite the fact that I’m not great doing it. Since I started posting photos of the shoots I like doing most, besides wedding photography, I have more engagement, website traffic, and inquiries. So I guess it works 🙂 But I don’t like doing it haha.
What inspires you to continue?
The feeling I have while doing my shoots. It actually feels like therapy. I get to create, I get to clear my mind, and just enjoy my passion for photography. I quit my sports photography to focus mainly on those outdoor shoots where I can go into the outside and spend around 2 hours with nothing on my mind than finding the perfect light.
What is your life motto / what mantra do you live?
Oh wow, I’m not sure if I have one life motto but I think it counts for life and photography when I say that sometimes looking at something from a different angle makes a world of difference.
How do you ensure a good work-life balance?
That’s pretty hard to do with a wife who’s also a photographer. We have two kids Jordan (8) and Stevie (5). At times we have to tell each other to leave the cameras at home on family trips. You have to live the moment as well as not always try to catch the moment. Because of the many weddings in a season, our maximum is set at 30 weddings a year. Fortunately, the kids are able to stay with their grandparents when we are away for wedding shoots and during destination weddings, we usually take the kids and a sitter with us. Sometimes, if possible, we stay a bit longer as an extended holiday.
How has the Corona virus affected your work?
Well, most weddings for this year have been postponed until next year. That was pretty hard to swallow. Thankfully the other shoots were able to continue as long as we kept our distance etc. There are still some (smaller) weddings planned for this year, fortunately. Unfortunately, all singing gigs are canceled for the rest of the year.
What can people do to support you and others in your field?
Keep booking photoshoots! 🙂 Whether it’s for yourself, together with your family, your business, etc. There’s always room for creating content and memories!
What are your plans for the future?
This July I’m starting off hosting my first workshop! That was always a big dream of mine. I love talking shop and helping people get as excited about photography as I am. So in the future, I hope to see myself hosting monthly workshops and just continue creating my art.
Do you have tips for people who want to start a business (in this field)?
Join my workshop 🙂 If you want to get better in photography, the best camera you have is the one you have on you. Keep taking photos. Try finding the things you love to shoot most and focus (no pun intended) on that.
There are so many great photographers to inspire you. Don’t make excuses for why you shouldn’t start. You don’t need an expensive camera to create art.