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Rising Stars: Meet Shawn Riddle

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shawn Riddle.

Hi Shawn, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?

I started out with photography in 2008 as an extension of my freelance graphic design business. I just wanted to be able to take high-quality photos of my clients so that they would stop sending me cell phone photos for their flyers & album covers!

Haha cell phone quality was trash back then! My first camera was also trash, but you have to start somewhere.

In 2009, I decided I could grow my graphic design skill set by going back to school. In the Fall I took my talents to Georgia & enrolled at the Art Institute of Atlanta. I finished w/ a diploma in Advertising Design in the Summer of 2011 and moved back to Kansas City.

After moving back to Kansas City my photo/video career took off! This with the constant flow of clientele that I had already, going into photography was a super easy transition.

I created a little photography studio set up in my mom’s basement and had clients coming in around the clock; a business relationship with one of my most consistent clients of over a decade, Pinklipps Cosmetics, started right in that basement!  (Thank you mama!)

After a few years, being a graphic designer was just a nuisance to my time and I officially called it quits to that part of my business.

On a fast track ten years later from my return to KC to 2021, I have grown my business to work with hundreds of clients per year between Photography & Video including Nike, Footlocker, National recording artists, and various players for the Kansas City Chiefs.

My early inspiration as a photographer was Derek Blanks, I was amazed at his alter-ego work. I got to attend his photography workshop to learn from the man himself and it was a great experience.

On the video side of things I have had a chance to dip into everything from weddings, music videos to feature length films. I feel like I am just getting started!

Some recent Accolades:
Kansas City People’s Choice Awards
2019 “Best Videographer” Winner
2020 “Best Videographer” Finalist
2020 “Best Photographer” Finalist
2021 “Best Videographer” Winner

The Pitch “Best of KC” Award
2020 Best Videographer/Filmmaker (Business) Winner
2020 Best Filmmaker (Artistic) Finalist
2020 Best Photographer (Artistic) Finalist
2021 Best Videographer/Filmmaker (Business) Runner-Up
2021 Best Filmmaker (Artistic) Winner
2021 Best Photographer (Artistic) Winner

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?

I can’t say that it’s been a smooth road, but I am blessed that it hasn’t been a rocky road either!

Starting out as a young freelancer with just raw talent and trying to be a business owner without any knowledge of how to do so is tough.

There’s always something new to learn everyday outside of actually doing the work. The time & effort that goes into the Financial, Customer Service and marketing areas of a business really do outweigh the business’ service no matter how good it is. Being the brain, muscle and backbone can get very stressful during those busy seasons.

I feel like my biggest challenge to date is not overworking myself & allowing myself to have a life outside of work. Putting so much passion into my career keeps my mind going 24/7, even when I’m trying to take a day or hour off.

Being able to turn off the creative switch and live a normal life is a challenge! Things like watching a movie or looking at a Restaurant’s branding/menu is different from me as I view it as a Creative critic instead of a consumer.

Another huge obstacle, one that i’ve told myself I would devote time in 2022 to change, is creating things for myself; I spend so much time bringing my client’s vision to life that I have struggled with putting energy into creating my own works for my film company.

We’d love to hear about how you think about risk-taking?

I think Risk Taking is a MUST to get to where you want to be! A calm sea never made a skilled sailor.

I think the biggest risk that I have taken business wise was choosing to narrow my focus and say NO to things that became a nuisance to my time; to step away from my graphic design career and really go full steam ahead as a photographer/videographer.

I never thought I would be in this position; as a Senior in high school I think I had a D in photography class lol I sucked.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Isaiah Gardner @HeavyZay

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