We had the good fortune of connecting with Adriana Richey and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Adriana, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I was born in Mexico and lived there for 27 years. My mom wasn’t able to give me economic support, but she gave me something way more important: love and confidence.
I was able to go to private schools because I had a scholarship, not because my mom had money. When I was in high school, my mom told me that she couldn’t afford to pay for the next semester and that I might have to pause my education for a while. She hide this from me until the very end, maybe a couple of weeks before the next payment was due.
I needed money fast! I was really good at drawing with charcoal, so I started selling charcoal drawings to my high school friends around Valentine’s Day. Perfect timing; couples in love always try to be original during Valentines. In about two weeks I made around 25 drawings, which completed the money my mom needed. We ate tortillas and water for a while, but at least I was still in high school.
I knew this was just the beginning, but my goal was to graduate from an awesome university, have an amazing job, never struggle about money again, and maybe one day help others. I had to take the risk because I didn’t have a choice.
I worked as a hostess at Applebee’s as soon as I turned 16, and from there it never stopped. I was a waitress at Chilis, I gave dancing and acting classes to kids, and I was Elmo at the Sesame Street amusement park, (yes, there is a Sesame Street theme park in Mexico, and yes, I am a very short woman).
When I started my university studies, our house got foreclosed, but I saw it coming; we didn’t have any furniture or water inside anyway. That made me realize that I needed more money and more flexible hours. I found a job working at a call center as their bilingual representative; that job almost broke me. For almost 3 years my life consisted in going to class from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm and then listen to angry people scream at me over the phone in two different languages between 6:00 p.m. and 12:00 am….every single day. During my days off, I had to “volunteer” at my university. My university had a program called “scholarship service” which makes students assist a professor for about 8 hours a week as gratitude for enjoying the benefit of having a scholarship and learn the the responsibility of having a job…I didn’t sleep much.
I was in a dark place for a long time, but I had my goal in mind: “Graduate, keep pushing, you will get there, keep taking the risk.” Sometimes I didn’t even know why I wanted to keep taking the risk; quitting school was so much easier.
I am glad I didn’t. It was during my second semester in college when I had my first photography class.
I finally graduated. However, I didn’t graduate because I had 3 jobs and did my homework on time. I was able to reach my goals because I had the help of “my angels.”
I couldn’t have done it without the help of my aunts and uncles who fed me and my mom when we had nothing. I wouldn’t have been able to take my first photography class if it wasn’t for my friends who let me borrow their cameras. All those friends who gave me a ride to campus without knowing that they were saving me money for food instead of paying for the public bus; couldn’t have done it without them either. My professors and their words of wisdom; they could see my situation without me saying anything. My best friends who saw me crying many times. And of course my mom, my biggest angel. She believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. Every single day she told me, “Adrianita, one day you are going to see the results of your efforts and you will help others the same others are helping you right now.”
How all this makes me who I am today? Well, I want to inspire others the way others inspired me. Our daily actions impact someone’s life. From doing something small like tipping a little bit extra to joining the big brother big sister program and sponsor a child; everything matters. My background helped me be aware of this and the importance of helping and inspiring others.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
WHAT AM I MOST PROUD OF?
I think starting my business was something very big for me. I finally stopped listening to my fears and gave myself more credit!
I have been taking photos since 2005 and I never thought I was going to make a career out of it; not because I didn’t want to, but because I didn’t feel good enough. I think everyone who wants to start something, whether is a new business, a new job, or a new hobby has the same fear: The fear of not being enough.
“How am I going to charge someone for photos if there are other thousand photographers way better than me and with more experience?” The Imposter Syndrome is a thing and can stop everyone from creating something amazing.
A good friend of mine has a business administration degree. When I told her about my dream of maybe one day opening a photography business she said to me: “Adri, in order to start a successful business, you must have the following ready: your vision, mission, logo, a market analysis, a strategic plan for 2, 5, and 10 years; a website, a budget (at least quickbooks), you need an organization and management team, an assistant, banners, swag, ads on newspapers and magazines, and of course money. You can’t start a business without these.” My overwhelmed brain and my fear of not being enough killed my idea of starting a new business for years!
However, I discovered that business plans happen organically. If you wait to start something until you have everything perfectly ready, you will never start anything.
Around 2011, a friend asked me how much would I charge him to take pictures of a house he needed to put on the market. Those were the best $40 dollars I have ever made! It felt so good that I thought, “Hmm, hypothetically if I were to open a business, what signature would look good on me?” And organically, my logo was born. The rest happened on its own; without forcing anything, I was slowly completing my friend’s business plan.
My fear of not being enough was still there. I Facebook/IG stalked other photographers for years and the more I compared to them, the worst I felt about myself. But hey! I’m sure they also started from the bottom and I wasn’t going to be better by riding the pity bus. So here I am, learning on the go. You might never get rid of your fears, you just have to learn how to trick them.
LESSON ALONG THE WAY
You need balance! For about 10 years I didn’t even have time to think about work life balance; I had to keep my jobs, do my internship hours, scholarship service, do homework and study. Somehow I also managed to squeeze in my hobbies as well.
My husband and I have known each other for 15 years, and because of him I learned how to balance my work and life. It took him some time and patience, but I owe the success of my business to him.
When you have your own business, it is so easy to get caught up in the mindset of: “If I stall it means that I’m wasting my time and I won’t make enough money and I won’t have enough clients… I should be working.”
You cannot have a successful business if you don’t have a balanced personal life.
There is no point of having millions of dollars in your bank account but no time to take a vacation or go for a bike ride with your partner. I would never call that a successful business, where is the success in that? The money?
My photo business is not making millions of dollars, but I still call it a successful business: I do what I love and it brings me revenue. I do work hard and I will spend hours editing, shooting and doing trainings, but I will NEVER say no to a bike ride with my husband.
ABOUT MY ART:
Well, engineering is not my thing haha. I guess I always knew I wanted to do something where you can express yourself, tell stories and be unique. I have a bachelors degree in Communications and Mass Media because I wanted to tell stories. I also did acting and dancing for such a long time because I wanted to create stories. Then I discovered photography and realized that it is the most entertaining way to share a story, and it’s my job as a photographer to make it unique.
Today, I don’t plan by any means to become a millionaire with photography. Yes, making a living by doing something I love is obviously one of my goals, but it’s not the most important one. By the end of my career, I want to look back at all the photos I took and remember all the amazing stories I captured. Every single model, family, bride, kid, couple, singer, band that comes into my studio has a story to share. I have learned so much about life while listening to their stories and all I want is to keep sharing those stories to the world. Also, I would love to run into a client 50 years from now and hear them say: “OMG I still have those amazing photos you took of our family framed in the living room.”
WHAT DO I WANT THE WORLD TO KNOW ABOUT ME?
Well I already talked a lot about my past, maybe I can say something about my present. David and I have been married for almost 8 years. Our kid is a dog named Abbie. We both love riding our bikes, running or doing something outdoors. We eat healthy because we save the carbs for wine ha! He encourages me everyday to be better and I love that. I do aerial dancing, like silks and lyra, and I might perform in Galveston soon! I watch Friends when I cook and I cook really bad.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We will definitely have dinner at Schaffers or Opus and then wine at Soulfreak. If we feel like staying up late, we will proceed to have beers at Okies and close the bar at Aspens! She needs to know where the locals hang out.
I will take her sailing or paddle boarding so she can experience the island life in Clear Lake Shores.
We will drive to Galveston and maybe spend a whole day there. We will walk around the Strand, hang out at the beach, take the trolley everywhere and we will definitely have dinner at Mosquito Cafe.
I will take her to Houston. She would LOVE the Heights, so much to do and see. She is not an outdoor person but I will take her to Memorial Park even if she complains about the long walk and the heat. We will also do a Houston brewery tour!
She LOVES wine (me too) that’s why I think I will take her to Fredericksburg for the weekend and do some fancy wine tasting 🙂
That will definitely cover the week haha
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My mom and my husband deserve the credit.
To my mom: Mom, you knew it all from the beginning. All the struggle, all the tears, all the drama: worth it! Thank you for believing in me even when I didn’t believe in myself.
To my husband, David: Babe, if you are reading this, I forgot to feed Abbie. I love you so much, and the goals I accomplish will mean nothing to me if I don’t share them with you. I admire you more and more every single day.