Rico Deshong has been the owner and operator of VipPix for over 11 years. ANN sat down with Mr. Deshong for an interview in which he discussed how a hobby turned into an 11 year journey that is still in progress.
The 11-year photography entrepreneur’s journey started with a love for his field, that he, despite doing it as a hobby, decided to give his all to. This included finances, and according to Rico, this is what gave him the push to make this hobby of his a business.
‘So I was doing photography as a hobby because I love photography and I’m the kind of person, when I put myself to do something, when I put my mind to do something, I like to give it my all, and then that led me to buying more equipment because I know what I wanted to accomplish; and with buying more equipment came more costs, so then I decided that there must be a way to pay back for what I have bought and to also buy what I need, so that’s when I think I decided to make it into a business.’ Deshong said.
When asked if he has faced any challenges over his decade in the photography business, there wasn’t much to say. He counted himself as one of the lucky few that had not been bombarded with challenges throughout the pursuit of his passion.
Rico Deshong is one business operator that definitely believes that the customer is always right. He said this is especially true in his field, where his product is helping a client bring their vision to life.
‘Yes, especially in my field, because they know what they want and that’s the kind of business that I provide, the service that I provide is what you want. That is why I like to ask questions when people inquire about my services,’
However he noted that he tells his clients that he is a photographer, not a magician. Rico says he is realistic with his clients when it comes to the results that they are aiming to get from his service.
‘I use this term ‘ I don’t make magic’, if you take a picture off the internet with a nice long hair person, pretty pretty pretty and that is not you, I cannot make magic, right?’
During his over 10 years in this business, when asked what he has enjoyed about it so far he highlighted the relationships he has created along the way.
‘I would like to say the relationships I created, not just with clients, but other businesses. St. Vincent is very small, so to be inside of that circle, it helps a lot, and it gives you a good feeling of accomplishment.’
Deshong has invested over $30,000 into his business over the last 10 years, the bulk of those funds being spent on the technology that makes his craft possible. When asked if he has seen the benefits of his investment, he replied with a resounding yes. To date, according to him, his most expensive piece of equipment is his camera, which comes in at a whopping $13,000, which is accompanied by a lens that costs $5,000 and a flash attachment which cost him $800 USD.
When questioned about whether there is any anxiety taking this pricey equipment to events such as parties where people are jumping up and various drinks are being spilled, that could lead to the damage of his camera, he said that his 11 years of experience has taught him how to operate in a way to avoid that happening, thanks to that he has been fortunate have never had any of his tech broken at an event.
If there is one thing Rico would do differently, if he were to restart his 11 year journey it would be to save more and keep a better track of his spending. He warned of the danger of indiscriminate spending, when running a business, and advised of the benefits that can be derived from keeping a proper account of spending.
ANN during the interview asked Mr. Deshong if there is any advice he would offer to any young up and comers looking to get into his field of photography. His advice? Don’t get into it for money or fame.
‘If you’re doing it–because I look online and I see a lot of persons, young and not so young trying to do it or doing it–if you’re doing it for the money or for the fame, forget it. There is no money and no fame to get from it because one, if you’re very serious about what you’re doing, you take all your money and invest it, so all the money goes back into buying equipment and in photography, and in photography the equipment is always changing, today you get the latest, and tomorrow it’s not the latest anymore. So if you’re doing it for money, no, there’s no money there because the money goes back into investing into your business’
On the point of fame coming from photography, Rico had this to say.
‘Fame? No, because you’re the one behind the lens, people hardly ever know who the photographer is, even when they know your brand, they live by your brand, they look at your pictures everyday, half of the time they still don’t know who you are.’ Deshong said.
Rico will be celebrating his birthday this month, when asked if there are any plans in place for his big day, he first informed us of a deal that is taking place in his birth month, where customers of VipPix will be receiving a fifty percent discount on all shoots.
‘Well there’s a special for October, fifty percent off. We do this every year, it’s becoming a thing now so people look forward to it. Fifty percent off shoots in October. Last year we did fifty shoots in twenty five days.
I’m looking forward to the support, I’m looking forward to giving people what they expect, I have some new stuff that I just got.’
On the point of his birthday, he emphasised the importance of why he makes sure to celebrate his special day every year, planning everything around the day. He also made the case for why others should do the same, making the point that it is important to celebrate life as it is not guaranteed to you tomorrow.
‘Bequia is a must every year for my birthday. Listen, I am a person who celebrates my birthday, I love to celebrate my birthday and if you look around and see what’s happening now, between sickness and crime, people are just dropping so I celebrate my birthday every year. I make a whole plan, from the time I wake, to the time I sleep. Every hour, where I’m going, I know what I’m doing and I celebrate my birthday to the fullest.’ he said.
On the tail end of our time with the 11 year photography veteran, he had a message to his supporters and collaborators, who have been there with him throughout the years, where he expressed deep gratitude for the moments shared throughout the years.
‘So thank you to the persons who support my business, thank you to those who patronise my business, who give referrals. There are persons who refer me and they don’t know me personally but they know my work and they appreciate what I do. Thank you very much. There are persons who would refer me and they would pass me in the street and I wouldn’t know who they are cause they wouldn’t identify themselves or even say hi, but thank you very much, I really do appreciate it.
I appreciate all the persons who have embraced me into their business and their personal families. Those who count me as their family photographer now, there are persons who have done their maternity shoots and their children are now eight and seven years old, we see ourselves as a VIP family. so Thank you to everybody that supported me.
Thank you to the other photographers as well, who I can call on at times. Sometimes we have that good relationship where if I can’t make something sometimes I can call on them and they can jump in and help, so thank you. A big big thank you to St. Vincent and the Grenadines for all the support over the years.’