If it hasn’t been made evident by now, we love people here at AAT! We love hearing about their stories and passions for our community, but we also love hearing about what our fellow locals do and why they do it! For example, we have some wonderful neighbors who own/manager some fantastic local businesses and serve our town tremendously by doing so! This fact is why AAT has partnered up with our good friends at B3 Glass, to bring you all “Small Business Fridays!” Each week, we’ll feature a different, local small business and talk with its owner and hear about their journey, their business in general, as well as their heart for their customers and our city.
This week, we’re joined by Hope Cripps. Hope is the owner of the aptly named, Cripps Photography. She works with her amazing staff, such as Jennifer Glasgow, who joined the business last October as a photographer, as well as a support staff, which could range from two-four members on any given event. Hope and her team pride themselves on offering a family-friendly environment where they produce quality images and memories, as they strive to serve the good people of Northern Nevada- even as far as Humboldt County!
Thank you for joining us this week, Hope! Now, longtime Elko area residents may know you took over your photography business from the seasoned photographer, Gene Russell, as the establishment was formally known as Gene Russell Photography before you re-branded it. With that being said, we’re here today to get to know you and hear about your success, so why don’t you explain how you became the woman behind the lens.
“My grandfather is a landscape photographer; I’ve been around it (photography) since I could walk. My family would be on our ranch with gramps on the weekends; he would photograph landscapes, and I would be on horseback with him. That’s how I got started. When I was in high school, Gene Russell played with the jazz band, and I was in the marching band, so that’s how I got to know him. One day, he asked if I wanted to come work for him. I was about fifteen when I started helping him, taking in the whole process; that continued throughout high school.”
“However, I was a single mom, and I needed to do something different/more. I felt like I needed to have a “real job” because photography didn’t feel like something I could do full time, at that point. So, I left the studio and got into ad sales for a few years, and then I was recruited to the hospital for about six years. During that time, I also went and got a formal education; I was one hundred percent in it. I loved my work at the hospital (working as their director of business development) and would still help Gene on the weekends when he needed it. When I was about twenty-nine, I realized I was working a lot and wasn’t super happy with that; I wanted to have a better work-life balance, and around that same time Gene was either going to sell his business or close it. We were talking at a Relay for Life event, and he pretty much told me either I could take things over for him, or he was closing the business down. I took some time to think about it, but in October of that year, I gave my notice at the hospital and jumped into the studio with both feet! It’s been amazing.”
“When I graduated, I had my son at nineteen, which kept me around here (Elko) instead of going off to college. However, Gene called me and asked me to do more to help him around the studio. I started doing office work and helped him clean up after sessions. Throughout this time, I would photograph little things such as landscapes when I was out and about or candid shots of my friends and family, and Gene would look at my stuff. So, when I was twenty, he came to me and told me he needed me to start photographing. I was nervous, but we made it happen. By the time I was twenty-one, I was on a camera doing school photography; I did that for a couple of years and loved it!”
Hope, you’ve had success in other positions throughout your journey, so why does photography do it for you? What is it about photography that you love so much, and how does that passion carry over to how you serve your clients?
“I loved what I did at the hospital, but it didn’t feed my soul the way photography does; I get to contribute to peoples’ happiness every single day. I get to be part of this teeny moment in their lives. As for Cripps Photography, we’re in the business of creating heirloom products for our clients. I’ll do it if they want, but I don’t want just to give my clients a USB drive that sits in their drawers; we want to create portraits that live on their wall and have staying power. Life happens so quickly that it’s easy to forget the little details because we can get so caught up in the moment.”
Hope, can you expand more on your decision to leave your high-level career at the hospital to pursue photography full-time? Perhaps your testimony may encourage someone who is currently grappling with a similar life choice.
“It wasn’t without wrestling and weight. I had a family to support and student loans that I needed to contend with. When you’re facing all that, but also have this unknown thing in front of you, it’s a risk; you don’t know if you’re going to make it. I had a conversation with my dad, whom I respect tremendously, when I was wrestling with the decision, and I asked him “what would happen if I failed?” He said to me, “If you fail, you fail. Then you apply for a job, and on paper, they’ll see you took a big risk and were dedicated to it. Failure is what makes life incredible.” That was a huge moment for me, and I made the decision to take the risk! My stress level and work-life balance are so much better, now. I’m able to make all my son’s activities and have him in the studio with me. Those are the things that outweighed the securities of having a “real job.”
Finally, Hope, what can Elko expect from you and the ladies at Cripps Photography, long-term? Do you plan to be around her for a while?
“As I mentioned, I chose to remain here to raise my son because of what Elko stands for; it’s definitely a hometown environment. It’s a great place to raise kids; I’m a product of that. Elko is a tremendous place to live. From a photography perspective, we have a lot of talent in this town and tons of beautiful locations for us to photograph. I don’t plan on going anywhere; we plan on staying and continuing to grow. We’re putting even stronger roots down than what we had before. We’re going to continue to bring high-quality photography to this community, consistently. We’re so fortunate to be here!”
If you would like to learn more about Cripps Photography, check out this video Hope provided us here at AAT by clicking below!
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See you around, Elko!