By Bill Hedrick
For hundreds of years, there has been a continuing debate as to whether artists are born or made. It is an argument about nature and nurture, heredity and environment, and how creative people learn through life experiences. To some, art flows naturally. To others, it often seems to be an exercise in frustration. As it turns out, there is no quick answer because of the many factors come into play. Although it is true that some seem to be born with creative talents, most people must consider the role of nature and nurture in artistic development. Even for those who seem to be born artists, most will admit that such abilities need to be honed through practice and instruction.
Without a doubt, Richard Sturdevant is one of the most creative photographic artists of our time who has developed a unique style all his own. His creative imagery merges classic subject matter with a world of fantasy to produce a finished work of art that grabs one’s attention at first glance and conjures up stories that boggle the mind. His method of blending all of those elements is a gift that he has worked years to perfect and, when he demonstrates his technique to others, he makes it look so easy.
Richard gained instant fame over two decades ago at TPPA Image Competition and his entries raised the bar for others who followed. His fluid combination of photography with fine art skills stems from his original artistic roots. Before becoming a professional photographer, Richard made his living as a classic artist using airbrush and oil. His photorealistic style made for a natural transition to photography. Today, with the advances in digital imaging, Richard’s passion for painting comes alive in his creations of photographic art. One glance at his images and you know it is “a Sturdevant.”
The Texas School of Professional Photography has become a familiar platform for Richard to teach his skills to others. Over his career, he has observed how photographers often come up with a brilliant idea of a themed photoshoot, only to be overwhelmed with the logistics of turning that concept into reality. “Then it never sees the light of day and the maker is both disappointed and unfulfilled,” says Richard. This is the problem that defines his mission… to show others how to make their creative ideas become a huge success.
As Richard explains, “Growing oneself can be exciting, especially as an artist. It can also create a certain amount of anxiety throughout the process. In my years of teaching, I’ve seen so much talent that never sees its full potential. The main culprit is confidence. It hinders so many artists and can take the joy away from the journey.”
On the other hand, Richard has also observed who seem to have little or no artistic talent but who excel to great heights simply because they believed they could. “Confidence in anything, comes from hard work and knowledge, especially knowledge of the various tools needed for creative tasks,” he adds. “Confidence is about decision-making and experience and is necessary to be fully creative and to enjoy the journey.”
At the 2023 Texas School of Professional Photography, Richard Sturdevant has come up with the ultimate learning experience called “Concept to Creation.” Along with his co-instructor, Tanya Long, they have put together a fully interactive experience that is guaranteed to take students from a core concept and walk them through the process of how to storyboard it, market it, build the set and costumes, light it and photograph it properly, edit it in Photoshop, then add amazing elements and embellishments to sell fine art masterpieces to their clients… start to finish!
The “cool part,” according to Richard, is that students can be a part of the process and even experience what one of their clients and models would experience. “This gives the artist a whole new perspective in front of the camera as well as behind it,” he explains.
At Texas School 2022, Richard brought along an assistant, Tanya Long, to help with costuming and styling. With the tremendous response from students, she is now a co-instructor of the class. “We’ve done many workshops since then and each one gets better and better,” says Richard. “Tanya brings a new perspective and has unleashed new ways of looking at the process.”
Tanya Long has been a full-time photographer for over 29 years and owned a professional studio for 27 years. A PPA Certified Professional Photographer, Tanya studied at ETSU in East Tennessee, SUNY in New York, and UC Berkeley in California. She has been on the speaking circuit for Tennessee and has been teaching in Tennessee, Texas, California, and Colorado. Over the years, Tanya has built a solid and loyal clientele in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, and throughout the Nashville area. After years as a commercial and portrait photographer, Tanya Long has followed her passion of creating costumes, head pieces, and art pieces, and recently launched her styling, costuming and education site… www.transandreacouture.com. Together, Richard and Tanya make the perfect team.
With over 20 years of experience as a creative artist, Richard brings a unique eye to the world of photographic education. Sharing his knowledge and experience with others in the industry is something that he enjoys. As part of his commitment to helping others learn and succeed, he has launched his own brand of educational materials to photographers, graphic designers, and artists nationwide. He believes that these materials, known as the “Sturdavinci Art Tools,” will help fellow professionals, as well as aspiring students, achieve their creative potentials and improve their workflow.
Turning the ordinary into the extraordinary will continue to be Richard’s goal in his personal photographic journey and as a platform for his teachings and, along with Tanya, there is no doubt they will bring another level of excitement to the Texas School of Professional Photography. Learn more about this extraordinary team at www.TexasSchool.org.