August 15th, 2011

PHOTOGRAPHY: Richard Maier

Published in RAW Features

A southern California native, Richard Maier took his first photography job at age 16 printing snapshots of Mickey Mouse for discerning tourists at a one hour photo near Disneyland.

He studied at the University of California at Riverside where his technical skills were eagerly employed by the faculty for their personal work (technical skills being absent on the fine art curriculum). The California Museum of Photography also hired Richard to print from their treasure trove of historical negatives (He has the dubious distinction of being one of the few people on the planet to know how to correctly print from a uranium toned glass negative). He graduated with a studio arts major with an emphasis on photography and traditional printmaking, and more knowledge of post-structuralism than any one person should have to bear.

Moving to Los Angeles, he was frustrated in his attempts to install a printmaking studio in his apartment by zoning laws which forbid having carboys of nitric acid in residential areas. Seeking other avenues of artistic expression, Richard purchased his first Mac, reasoning that anything so expensive must be useful for something. While he struggled to get “art” out of that poor beige box, he paid his bills by working as color printer at a professional photo lab.

When a position opened up for a retoucher, he jumped at the chance to sit on his butt all day and make pretty girls prettier. Unfortunately, several years of this left Richard with an acute allergic reaction to fashion magazines. At his worst point, having to thumb through a copy of “Elle” would make him break out in a cold sweat, and “W” could necessitate a trip to the emergency room.

Determined that a change was needed, Richard took a gig with a documentary photographer who forbid him to retouch any of her pictures, but needed help dealing with the vast quantities of data spewing from her new digital camera. On his off days, he works with his esteemed freelance clients. On his free days he creates art, having finally learned the secret of how to menace a Mac with a hammer to get the good stuff out of it.

You can see Richard’s latest experiments at