about your artist
Hi, I'm Erika a.k.a. "Rikki Guns." I'm quite different from about 99.9% of other photographers in that I've been an artist my entire life, in just about all mediums: drawing, painting, sculpture, graphic design, etc. Photography has been a passion of mine since early childhood, because to me it gave me the ultimate rush to STOP TIME. My Popadopolis (dad, now 90!) was an avid artist & photographer in the army, and his talents inspired me at a young age; they still do. His images in our family albums stood out, they were composed beautifully and seemed to intimately capture personalities and moments unlike anything I'd ever seen. He let me (carefully) use some of his old Polaroid, Agfa and Kodak cameras and taught me how to be a patient observer - I was hooked.
At the age of 14 (3 decades ago) my parents bought me my first professional camera for my birthday, a heavy noisy Nikon N4004s. Over the next 30 years I picked up "a few" more bodies and lenses along the way, received my education at Frostburg State University (art scholarship), Montgomery College, Corcoran School of Art & Design and the Washington School of Photography. I finely tuned my natural gift, became fluent in my craft and my business, and found my unique style and visual voice through composition and photojournalism. I still continue my education to this day attending digital photography and editing workshops as a member of PPA (Professional Photographers of America) and NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals). I think the most important part of being a photographer is your own investment into the craft, because you belong to it, you love it, and you respect it. And the clients who seek to work with me appreciate that.
Having grown up in a musical & artistic family, unafraid to express themselves, I've always been drawn to the raw emotion of the live performance, the expressions, the energy, the chaos, the passion, the moments when that artist is in front of their audience but yet lost deep inside the music. My music work has landed in the pages of Relix Magazine, Guitar Player Magazine, The Washington Post and on the sites of The Vinyl District, Red Bull Music Academy, along with several renown artists and their albums. I've also been honored to be one of the few photographers invited to shoot on stage with some pretty heavy hitters. I love capturing those electric moments. But this is not all I love to do...
I also love being my couples' trusted wedding photographer - the trusted Story Teller on my couples' special day - catching the details and fleeting moments that many would miss, and knowing that my couples will be surprised and in love with the memories I've captured for them forever. I didn't always want to be a wedding photographer - I actually thought it was a joke for the longest time because I was such a rebellious rock-n-roll photographer. But I shot one of my friends' weddings in upstate NY in 2008 and it turns out I was damn good at it. Those friends nixed their wedding photographer's photos and hung mine all over their walls, and it made me feel all warm & fuzzy inside. Thankfully one of the things my father taught me was patience very early on, so as a Photojournalist I completely believe that paying close attention and anticipating key moments are of the utmost importance. Unlike many of today's togs, I shot film for close to 20 years so I never "spray & pray." Being a music photographer that shoots weddings has its benefits: I have a quick reaction to moments and zero fear when it comes to capturing them by any means necessary. I've been known to climb trees, walls, and crawl to get unique angles and magical shots for my clients. Not only that, but my experience with music photography gives me a nice edge over standard photographers who ONLY shoot weddings, and I attract a certain kind of client who appreciates that and wants a well-rounded professional to trust with their day.
I pay homage to the "Old School" of Music Photography and Wedding Photojournalism, when the shots told you an intimate story and sang you a song, when (as a photographer) you spent wonderful days in the darkroom developing FILM. As I mentioned, I shot 35mm for almost 2 decades prior to going digital, so I know the patience, skills and effort it takes to compose the image before I click the shutter, and the vision, knowledge and artistry it takes to bring out the best in each finished capture. But I've been doing this for so long, those preparations take a millisecond.
My style is Documentary and contemporary; I focus on real moments and the narrative within in each one. I have been known to shoot a more edgy and eclectic style at special request - I mean, after 3 decades under my belt I should be fluent in all styles, right? ;) My clients definitely appreciate that.
I shoot with a clear standard in mind: to capture moments as pure as possible while bringing my own unique vision to every image. I always deliver my clients' most special memories with artistic integrity while still staying true to the moment. Being a Photographer is, after all, about stopping time; capturing Life with a strong and intuitive eye and the ability to tell a story, not about how many camera bodies are hanging off me, or how many assistants I have, the size of my studio (which is pretty big) or shots I take hoping for one image to be good (a.k.a "Spray & Pray").
I know that most of the work should be done BEFORE the shutter is clicked.
"PHOTOGRAPHY IS NOT ABOUT CAMERAS, GADGETS AND GISMOS.
PHOTOGRAPHY IS ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHERS.
A CAMERA DIDN'T MAKE A GREAT PICTURE ANYMORE THAN
A TYPEWRITER WROTE A GREAT NOVEL."
- Peter Adams
These words means so much, especially today where everyone has the access to online photography "tricks" & tutorials, smartphones with filter after filter, or the money to buy an affordable entry level DSLR or even a very pricey "professional camera," start a Facebook page, call themselves a photographer, charge thousands but have zero experience, education or business sense. Hey, I applaud and support every one wanting to feed their inner artist, but with this inundation of amateur photographers comes the myth that professional photography should be cheap or mediocre - and that requires the need for more education provided to potential clients seeking true professional photography. You probably own a DSLR yourself! I see you all out there with the flash always up and that dial set to "SCENE"....it's ok, I'm here for you and I even offer hands-on lessons on how to use that wonderful tool.
Gear aside (and I have plenty, don't worry), no matter what I shoot with, I treat each and every subject in my lens with equal passion and commitment: whether you're a renowned recording artist, starting your first band, launching your product, selling your home, or celebrating the day you both start your new life together. When you work with me, you work with a lifelong ARTIST, and as an artist I see every project through from beginning to end. I bring the same creativity and passion to EVERY shoot, because of my love and respect for the Craft. And as a HUMAN, I don't discriminate against anyone's lifestyle - I celebrate it and want to help you show your awsome to the world.
ARE YOU MY CLIENT?
I cater to a very specific and discerning client, most of whom are eclectic, unique, vibrant and very non-mainstream; many are artists themselves, and they want to work with a like-mind who would never judge their taste or lifestyle, but who will celebrate it! My clients come from ALL backgrounds and lifestyles, and they have zero interest in hiring another "factory photographer" they've never met sent out by a photo company, nor a stuffy pose-you-like-school-photos photographer, and they would never even imagine risking the moments of their life by hiring Uncle Bob or that "family friend with a nice camera who loves to take pics,' let alone an inexperienced Dollar Menu "fauxtographer." My clients also don't shop for a photographer like they'd shop for a car - they know if they want a Ferrari they can't get it with Honda money. My clients often tell me my prices are shockingly low for the experience and quality I give them. I laugh & just simply tell them I'm not Annie Leibovitz.... YET.
Clients who work with me know the value of their memories and their business; they want to invest in a professional lifelong artist who has invested decades into their craft FOR THEM; they want to work with a professional who respects and understands her clients, their lifestyle, provides experience, education, consistency and a professional yet personal experience.
I thank you for taking the time to read my bio and get to know a little about me. If you loved what you read and you're ready to trust in a Professional Artist and invest in your Awesome, I look forward to hearing from you.
**Thank you Mama & Popadopolis, a musician and artist couple, who always told me to walk tall, sit up straight, be myself, express myself, and who always encouraged my natural talents in art and music, and gave me unconditional Love. I love you both. Rest in Peace, liebe Mama. Pop, keep kicking ass.
© Erika Horn | Cozmik Photography LLC All Rights Reserved Cozmik Photography by Erika V Horn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.Based on a work at www.cozmikphotography.com.Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at www.cozmikphotography.com.