The Blacksmith Challenge

Posted by Gittings Photography on Jun 3, 2017 8:15:00 AM

As portrait photographers we have the rewarding opportunity to capture someone's personality in a single portrait, showing insights to the soul of our subject.

A week ago, as part of a Gittings photographer retreat, we arranged to photograph Richard Baggett, who is a phenomenal blacksmith with metal works represented all over the planet. You can see his incredible work on his Facebook page: search Richard Baggett Studios or on Instagram Richardbaggettstudios

Gratitude goes to Maggie Baggett Shori, a longtime Gittings employee, for arranging the opportunity to photograph her twin brother, Richard. He receives many requests from other photographers and denies their requests. We are thankful to Richard for allowing all three of our photographers to create unique portraits of him.

Richard warned us that it would be very hot at the forge (temperature near the forge can reach over 300 degrees), so we created a plan to keep both the subject, equipment and photographers from melting. The photographers drew numbers and Rob D. Wythe, Ryan Johnson and Rick W. Bettinger spent 20 minutes independently creating unique portraits of Richard.

Below is a brief narrative from the photographers followed by 2 of their favorite images they created.

Rob Wythe:

“Hand Made,”  it’s tattooed on his hand and it is how he creates his art.  He is a Blacksmith and a true talent, his name is Richard Baggett.  His knives, tomahawks, and ironwork are one of a kinds. Each customized to fit the client's personality and needs.  If I am ever lucky enough to buy one of his creations it will probably be displayed as art but it is made to be used as an every day tool.

I have followed Richard on Instagram for a while now after finding him through his sister.  He is tattooed, bearded, and gruff.  But his eyes reveal more of his personality as a kind, friendly , and honest individual. It was my hopes to capture both the rough exterior but still show the kindness in his eyes. Some people need a lot of coaching and tips on how to pose but with Richard I let him be who he is.  It was my job to light him and frame him in such a way to capture his character.

It was an honor to spend time with him. 



Ryan Johnson:

Behold the mythical Richard Baggett. This rare beast is not privy to portraits. Many have tried with no such luck. Upon entering his fiery lair you must draw him out with the smooth allure of single barrel Tennessee whiskey. Then, and only then, you MIGHT glimpse a small shimmer in his eye. With this you have earned his eternal trust, and may continue into forged depths


Rick Bettinger:

Richard Baggett, the artist, husband, father, brother, the son. 

I am positive my time photographing Richard was the shortest of all three. Thats probably because Richard and I conversed about important things in our lives and the photography took a back seat. Besides sharing the same name we have a love for our perspective art and we appreciate how important relationships are, most importantly family. The images you see her were taken in about 7 minutes as my time ran out. They show an artisan who may look as hard as the steal he crafts, but has a soul that is as genuine and authentic as one can be.