When I first met Richard Stum, I had been looking at photography submissions for the first New Era contest. I was hundreds of photos into the judging when his prints caught my eye. Stacks of photos were piled around me—many, many sunsets, little brothers and sisters, family pets. Generally these pictures were good, but in multiples of ten a single sunset has a hard time distinguishing itself. Yet Richard’s photographs stood out in this crowd. Each print had a feeling of completeness; some told stories; others simply conveyed a mood; but all of them demanded and received a reaction from me, the viewer.
Since that first contest I’ve seen many more of Richard’s pictures and talked to him personally about them. His greatest secret is that he thinks. He knows what he wants so he is able to take control of a situation and impose his point of view on it.
About photographers he says, “There are two basic types of photographers: the one who finds his scene and the one who creates his scene. I guess I am mostly the latter. I believe that behind most good photography there is an idea. I use a camera simply as a tool like a wrench or a pair of pliers. It helps me to carry out my task of completing ideas. Of course, this idea, which is just a picture in your mind, needs to be there before you snap the shutter.”
Richard enters and wins many local and national photo contests. He has first place ribbons from the state fair, and he won national Kodak-sponsored contests two years in a row; the first was three years ago when he was only sixteen.
Even with the professional recognition, Richard still thinks his greatest reward is to look at life through the viewfinder of his camera, to recognize all the ingredients of a good picture, and then to wait for that decisive moment when all the elements come together into a feeling of wholeness.
Included are a few of my favorites from Richard’s portfolio.