Richard Shoaf

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Counter-Terrorism to Weddings, how does one make this unfathomable leap?

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There I am, sitting down with a couple discussing one of the most important days in their lives to that point in their lives and they ask me that obligatory question, have you always been a wedding photographer?

When I answer the question fully, it always spurs on an extended conversation away from the focus that we desire, their wedding day.  So usually I say “I have worked across multiple disciplines, always using photography in one fashion or another”.  I keep it simple in my response as not to take us off course and make the conversation about me, as it’s not about me, it’s about them.  They are much more interesting anyway, I have lived with “me” for the past 42+ years and am really interested in their desires, plans and what inspires them.  This way I can fully understand their goals and how we can do our best for their special day.

If I where to fully disclose the response to their question, it gets to be lengthily and laden with so many questions that it truly detracts from our goals.  I have used photography since I was involved with music and theatre in high school.  My father purchased a professional level SLR camera when I was a teenager and he passed it onto me due to my interest in it.  As I transitioned careers across public safety I used photography in my daily routine from forensic fire investigations to insurance fraud.  One does learn a lot about depth of field, ISO (ASA at that time), and lighting when you are in a burned out building in the dead of night with no way to check your shot.  Those of you who have started photography in the digital era consider yourself blessed.  The level of pressure to assure you get the right images for courtroom presentation all the time knowing that the building would not be there the following day to “reshoot” is significant.

HazSWAT - CBRNE skills for the Tactical Operator

“Day 4 – Takedown Operations for mobile laboratory”

Later we started a consulting firm (1993) providing training, consulting and equipment to emergency services, government and general industry.  Being a graphical guy and knowing the way to convey solid messages in our advertising we used imagery in both print and video.  This separated us from the others in our discipline.    We even added video capture to share with our course participants to drive home lessons learned.  I have to admit that cameras on primary weapons in the shoot house, high speed cameras on the bomb range and use of underwater housings for WMD / CBRN operations is fun and has had value added to our clients.

All this time I personally honed my art and skills as a photographer, businessperson and most importantly a husband.  So why does one make a transition from counter-terrorism to wedding photography?  Its simple, love.


The Girls & their flowers


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