Richard Sharp, a graduate of New Zealand Institute’s Digital Photography course, shares a few of his adventures.

I spent many years abroad with my wife living in the UK and travelling the world, she was a model for 10 years overseas so I got to spend a lot of time on studio shoots. I always wanted to do photography and initially bought a basic camera in England. It was a little Fuji Finepix, and I sold a few photos, which was great.

After returning back to NZ in 2006, I studied Freelance Photography with NZIBS and got my Diploma in 2010. I bought a better camera and started with an $800 Olympus E300 and had a standard lens plus an extra zoom lens. I set up a studio in my garage, painted the walls white and bought a few cheap studio lights on Trademe. Then I just put an ad in the local paper offering Actor/Real Estate headshots for free just to get more experience. After 2 or 3 months I had a few small jobs for family photos and local company shots under my belt. A year later I moved house with my two small kids and wife to Botany. My new neighbour needed a wedding photographer and I offered my services, the wedding went well and I got some beautiful shots. I set up a studio in my garage and kept practising. A few months later I went into business with some extended family members who provided extra capital in return for teaching them. We created a bigger studio at another location and built a website and I found a company in India to do our SEO for cheap, this helped the website get into the 1st and 2nd pages on google for our search terms, we purchased more equipment, a Nikon D3x, Nikon D3s and a Canon 1d mk4 plus later a Canon 1Dx and some lenses, 85 prime for portraits, 24-70mm for wide angle and landscapes and 70-200mm.

I created wedding photography packages teamed together with a wedding caterer at the Bride and Groom Expo which worked out well. I started branching out to advertising companies and got work shooting commercial photography and doing lots of actor headshots and some stock photos. I had a friend who was a recording & sound engineer who was managing a Rap group and he was producing a professional music video and needed a stills photographer on set while filming. It was a lot of fun! Shortly after I received a call from an up coming fashion designer who needed some photos for her new fashion line, so started shooting fashion photography. We had a friend who needed some photographers for NZ Fashion Week, and we ended up shooting all the runway and off site runway shows as well as being their first ever photographers back stage to capture all the models and designers preparing for the week.

I owe a big thank you to the great team at NZIBS for installing a belief to follow your passion. Following your dreams can be hard work but I can attest if you keep at it you will get there. My favourite quote is from Steve Jobs: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.”