Richie Bart: Photographer
Tell me a little bit about yourself. I am 22 years old, and was born and raised in San Angelo, Texas. I have a beautiful Puerto Rican wife, and a sweet 2-year-old daughter. I've always loved so many genres of photography, and love to express my emotions through it.
Have you always been creative? What did you want to be when you were young? I would like to think that I always have been, yes. My first memory of doing anything cool with a camera were small stop motion movies with my transformers toys using an old blackberry phone. My mom would always hype me up and encourage me to do more of them! When I was younger, I actually wanted to paint cars, which is what I'm currently learning how to do. I remember always watching custom car shows in the early 2000s with my dad. My favorite cars to see painted were lowriders, because of the colorful paint jobs and pinstriping, and always aspired to be able to paint one day. How did you get into photography? So I'd always love to look through older family albums. Back in the day everyone took pictures of everything, even for the smallest occasions. So since I was 13-14 years old, I started to just take random pictures in an attempt to document memories the way they did back in the day. As I got older I really started to get more into it, and eventually got into astrophotography. Soon after I became old enough to drive, I started taking pictures at car shows I'd attend, and that's when I started to really enjoy it.
What is it you love most about photography? I love that it's something that people will be able to view years from now, and that it's a moment in time that's captured forever. I see so many pictures from Kristin Bedford (@kristin_bedford)'s vintage archive of people's personal photos on Instagram, and love the nostalgic feeling I get in my heart viewing them. It makes me feel reminiscent towards memories that I've never experienced. I feel inspired taking pictures knowing that people, and family in the future that I'll never meet will see them, and hopefully appreciate them the way that I do. When I view old pictures I feel a type of sonder. So when I see old pictures I get this crazy feeling of like, "wow, this person had lived their own life, and experienced the world." I don't know, it's a crazy realization once you start to really appreciate the feeling. What have you done that you’re most proud of? I think it's when I stepped out of my comfort zone and experimented with portraits. It's one thing to get photos of objects and scenery, but it's another thing to have a person in front of the camera. One day I asked my wife if she was down to let me try some portraits, and she agreed. Once we both started to have fun with it, it became easy, and I was really happy with how they came out. Looking back at them I see things I could've done different, but they'll always be some of my favorite pictures. I never like to "direct" people I take pictures of. I'd rather it be natural and have them do what they're confident with. I'm still working on bettering myself in that genre of photography for sure.
Who/what inspires you? My elders, and scans of old film photographs from the 60s-90s. I love the nostalgic feeling of looking through my grandparents old family photo albums. I first started off with digital cameras, and I recently realized that instead of editing in Lightroom to match the old aesthetic, I could just use period correct 35mm film cameras. So I've been doing that since September 2020. I don't think I can go back to digital. Does being Hispanic influence your work at all? If so, how? It definitely inspires me in the sense that I have always been surrounded by the culture growing up. I always had great traditional food from my mom, my dad always played chicano music, and we were always at great big get togethers. The sense of a tight knit community that was captured in old photographs of my mom's family living in Los Angeles, and Mexico have always been influential with the essence of what I try to replicate, and capture with others, and the world around me now. Living in a predominantly Hispanic town in West Texas definitely exposes me to more Mexican Hispanic culture, and I think I'll really appreciate it as I get older, because my daughter will get to learn more about her heritage through all of the Hispanic influenced civic events.
What’s your process like? So! I usually throw on some old jams on the way to a shoot. I try to just shoot without thinking too hard about it, just whatever comes natural. I try not to follow a ton of guidelines that professionals use because any time that I've tried, I feel like it comes out as robotic. With film photography you're limited to only 36 frames on each roll, and that makes me slow down and think about each composition. I feel like switching over to analog photography has really helped me grow in the art. What’s your favorite thing to photograph? Cars. Specifically stance cars and lowriders. I understand and have done some of the work needed to build them. Lowrider shows are such a great place to practice. The owners of the lowriders are the coolest people I have ever met while being in the car community. They're always down to have pictures taken and are always kind. I actually sprayed a traditional Chicano pinstriped lace job on the roof of my stanced Civic Si because my good friend Johnny Fernandez from the local lowrider community told me to go for it. I wouldn't know a lot of the locals and the local culture if it wasn't for him.
Favorite piece of equipment? It was my Polaroid Sun 600, I had gotten it for a steal at a local vintage store for $30, but I sold it to my friend Robert. Now my new favorite is my Polaroid SX-70. Instant film is always so fun to shoot with, and it's so cool to be able to hold your picture right after you take it. I like to take them to car meets, get togethers, and just on the go. I like to get little shots of cars and give the Polaroids to the owners at meets. I also shot with it a lot at Wekfest in Austin, Texas. It's so simple and easy to carry around. Favorite photographer? Definitely Willem Verbeeck (@willemverb). He was a huge help for when I started shooting analog. I bought a Yashica FX-2 off eBay for $12, and didn't have a clue how to shoot with 35mm film until I watched his videos. His photos are so creative, and he makes literally everything he shoots look so poetic. I really aspire to be at his skill level with analog photography. I still have so much to learn.
What is your dream collaboration? That would have to be with dated.(@d_a_t_e_d). While my personal style isn't super clean, crisp high definition photos, I love all of his shoots. They're so clean. I'd love to see his shooting process and learn as much as I could, and see all of the beautifully crafted cars he gets to be around. Any words of wisdom for young photographers? Don't try to put yourself in a box. Draw inspiration from things that you love, but still make it your own. Always be willing to take any help you can get, experiment with lenses, and buy a camera you're unfamiliar with. Get prints of your work, it's a wonderful feeling holding physical copies.