Owning a camera doesn’t make you a photographer; any more than owning a paint brush makes you an artist. But a camera, in the hands of a true photographer, can capture so much more than just an image. Photographs can sell products, record personal, business, or community events, and capture people and their full range of emotions-joy, devotion, love, excitement, and so much more. Great photographs can be soulful, thought provoking, even heart breaking. Rick Haithcox has been exploring this medium and pushing the boundaries of his craft since 1987. We spoke with Rick recently at his studio in Dallas.
GA!: How did you get started in photography, and what do you enjoy most about your career?
Haithcox: I was always interested in art class in school, but couldn’t paint or sculpt or even draw stick people. I picked up a camera my dad had and I felt I had something I could create with. While in college photography class, when I saw a print develop that I had taken I was fascinated, and I knew I was hooked.
GA!: You have been the North Carolina Photographer of the Year; what other awards have you won?
Haithcox: Probably the ones I am most proud of are the many Fuji Masterpiece Awards, and the awards given by the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) in their International Print Competition Loan Collection. Those were instrumental in me becoming a Master Photographer. I never purposely shot anything just for a competition; I shoot what I love and I think that comes through in the images.
GA!: You are known for your black and white work. Tell us about that…
Haithcox: Black and white photography reminds me of the beginnings of photography. It seems that when you strip away the color, you see an image with your heart and not your eyes. It can be more technically challenging, but when done correctly, is more of an art form, and is truly timeless.
GA!: You have a fairly large studio in Dallas-what kind of things do you shoot here?
Haithcox: We have shot everything from table top products like jewelry to fishing lures, to motorcycles. We have a 2000 square foot studio space that will accommodate more intimate shoots to something larger scale, and we have a wedding division also. Plus we are only twenty minutes from downtown Charlotte.
GA!: What is the funniest or most interesting thing that has happened to you since you became a photographer?
Haithcox: Too many to tell, but once we were shooting celebrity Barney Barnwell at his home in South Carolina. Barney is a third generation storyteller, musician, moonshiner and entertainer. He had this pet possum that he fed sardines and buttermilk, and he would let it crawl around inside his overalls.
GA! Photography has allowed you to travel and get some really interesting shots.
Haithcox: I’ve been able to travel throughout the US and to countries as far away as Armenia, where they told me I walked in the steps of Noah. I have met more interesting people than most people meet in five lifetimes.
GA!: I know you have worked with some large corporate clients…
Haithcox: Too many to list, but they include state and national ad agencies, General Electric, Daimler, Duke Energy, Carolinas Medical, Freightliner, and Taco Bell, to name a few.
GA!: I know you have recently spoken to several small local groups, but you have also spoken to larger groups of various kinds….
Haithcox: I have spoken to state and national groups about professional photography, but I often speak to local groups about travel and vacation photography for amateurs. I show them how they can improve their vacation images, even using a pocket camera.
GA!: Why should I spend money on a keepsake photograph of my children, or myself, or parents?
Haithcox: I would give anything to have a picture of my mom and dad and my sister and me like the images that we shoot for other people every day. But it’s too late for that. Or folks will bring in an old picture of their grandfather that is blurry and out of focus and ask us to “fix it”, because that’s the only picture they have. The images that we create are designed to be keepsakes-to be handed down. These are not images you get at the mall or some big box store, that get put in a drawer after six months.
GA! Do you do business head shots, or business group shots? What about product shots for the web or brochures?
Haithcox: We do absolutely any type image that you might need to make your business stand out.