I met Rick Takagi in 2012 at Toys for Kids auction. We were both photographing the event, but one of us had a bit more experience than the other. I’ll let you guess who.
From the moment I met him, he was gregarious and incredibly generous. He was not only willing, but excited about answering my photography questions and empowering me to pursue my passion. Over the years we’ve become good friends and he’s become an amazing mentor. From how to use my camera and how to frame a shot to how to work a room and how to draw out a subject, he’s helped me expand my skillset immensely. He still does.
Rick started his photography business in 2007. He was formerly a real estate appraiser. But thanks to the recession, he ditched the coat-and-tie 9-to-5 gig. And the world is better for it.
Today, Rick specializes in wedding and engagement photography. He also has a keen eye for headshots, family shoots, and real estate photos.
Whether you too are passionate about photography or just love to get to know good people, I wanted to share the following Q&A with you so you could get to know Rick a bit better.
Get to Know Seattle Wedding Photographer, Rick Takagi
Mikaela: When did you become passionate about photography?
Rick: I’ve loved photography since I was a kid. My dad was a Nikon shooter. He had this big bag of all sorts of Nikon camera gear and I used to play with them. The big thing with old cameras was that they were heavy. You could pick them up and when you pushed the shutter there was a reaction. I love that.
Mikaela: You’ve really developed a specialty for photographing a diverse group of couples — especially same-sex couples. How did that come about?
Rick: It happened because we were one of the first states to allow same-sex marriage. People from other parts of the country came here to get married and they were looking for photographers who were same-sex friendly. I’m totally for all forms of love. So when same-sex couples reached out, I was all in. I think it’s weird people wouldn’t.
Mikaela: You were formally in finance. How did you decide to switch careers?
Rick: Finance was the most soul-sucking job you can ever have. If you want to feel like your life added up to nothing, work for a bank.
What’s cool about photography is you leave something. I like to think of my pictures years from now. I like to imagine someone looking at an image of a person who isn’t here anymore and really liking the picture. Feeling like they know the person. I love that. I love that the images I capture bring a bit of joy to someone’s life.
That’s how I feel about every wedding. Sometimes you take a picture of a grandma or grandpa. It’s nice to have a good photo of them. But it’s also incredible that you can give the couple and their family that tangible memory. I mean, I capture images and it lets me feel like my job goes on forever.
Mikaela: Do you have any advice for someone getting ready to have their photo taken?
Rick: Relax. Let yourself be comfortable and have fun. I think that’s the biggest thing. You can always tell when shoots are stiff and uncomfortable. I always want my subjects to feel relaxed. That’s why I always encourage people to do at least an hour shoot — especially if the shoot involves kids. I like to let the kids go through my camera bag. I’ll give a kid a camera. I love that. It makes them feel like part of the process and really de-stresses the whole situation.
I’ve also started doing what I call “garage portraits.” These are shorter shoots. We don’t have a whole hour. But I encourage people to wear something they feel comfortable in. And, when they get there, I jump right into getting to know them. I love learning people’s stories. Even if it’s just a few minutes, that back and forth dialogue is so essential.
Mikaela: Do you have any advice for photographers trying to hone their skills?
Rick: Whether you’re shooting with an iPhone or a high-end DSLR, the first thing I’d tell someone is to focus on composition. For example, make sure it’s a clean photo. If you’re shooting outside, move so that there’s not a garbage can or porta-potty in the background. Pay attention to things like telephone poles to make sure there’s not a line splitting someone’s head. Those kind of items can ruin a photo and they’re much easier to avoid than to try and remove.