Hello! My name is Rich Franco and I first joined FAA in December of 2011. I'm a Photographer based here in Central Florida and, like many of others, started out with a "hand me down" camera and no idea what to do with it or even what the camera could do. I was in my early 20's at that time and didn't have a lot of money to spend on books or film. So my first trip was to the local Library and the "photography" section and more specifically, the "how to" shelf. There I found an odd assortment of books that described things and subjects that were way over my head. Then I found my first edition of the Time/Life books on Photography and that's where I started! The library only had the first two editions and I was in a hurry to learn! So I found the information where to order the series and that's what I did! Every 6 weeks, I would get a new book in the mail and during the 6 weeks, I would practice what I just learned. By the time most of the books had arrived, I had set up a small B&W darkroom in the cellar and was printing my own images,hand developing the film and enlarging and printing up to 11x14's. Family and friends all received "gifts" of my images, whether they wanted them or not!
Eventually, I included making prints from "color negatives" and finally, prints from slides,using the "Cibachrome"process. I can't tell you how many hours I spent, in that dark,damp cellar, little radio on and lost to the world!
I moved to Florida and got a real job,but kept my darkroom gear in boxes and waited for a new location to set it up. I finally made room in an extra guest bathroom (no cellars in Florida!) and everytime we had friends over, the darkroom went into a hall closet, but it was worth the effort. I was getting better at "seeing" images and creating them and heard about a small "art show" in a town a few miles away and sent in my application,$10! I was accepted and now I had to figure out how I was going to "display" my artwork, since I had no real booth. I found a design from a friend of mine,basically a bunch of panels,that could be hinged together and make a "wall" of images. I made the display and painted it a nice 18% gray and was off to the races! Fortunately for me, the first show really didn't have much competion and I won "First Place" for Photography! I had my photo in the small local paper and was a happy camper!
We did a number of shows after that and won some awards and sold some images, not really ever breaking even, but was just for fun,since I still had a full time "real" job. As the shows got larger and my work got better, I was asked a number of times to maybe do some printing for other artists and photographers that saw my "Cibachromes" and wanted me to print for them. This led to me opening up my first business, "Rich Franco Labs" and for the next few years, I was printing and making a living as a "Master Printer".
This "exposure" led to me being asked, after clients would see my images that were plastered all over my walls at the Lab, if I would be interested in shooting for them. Without a blink of an eye, I said "Hell yes!" That's how I snuck into being a Professional Photographer for more than 30 years. Rich Franco Labs became Rich Franco Photography! I gradually began shooting for the local Architects and Ad Agencies and then National companies. Shooting mostly in Florida and the SouthEast.
At one time, I had a huge contract to shoot texbook images for a world wide textbook publisher. At that time, I had a 10,000 sq.ft studio and, when busy, 20+ employees! It was a great time, but as always,great times don't last and mine didn't either. I had to shut down the studio and we had a "going away" party for my business, "The FOTOfactory", and I moved on.
I was fortunate again, in that my younger brother, was a photo-editor for the Rolling Stone and he assigned me a few jobs, not feature stories, but still, I could say I was shooting for the "Rolling Stone"magazine. My brother moved on and everywhere he went, I would work on small features for his new magazine. He finally hit the big times and was the Photo Editor for Travel & Leisure magzine and I was again,a happy camper! I travelled around the U.S.,mostly in the Southeast, but a trip or two to the West and through my brother's connections, began to shoot for other magazines, Food&Wine, Gourmet,The Traveller,etc. and times were good.
That was a few years ago now and I'm now coming full circle and rebuilding my Fine Art business and with help from FAA, look forward to many years more of being a "happy camper"! My main web site is
where you can visit and see some of my "history". My FAA Artists web site is this and I am adding to it almost daily:
All my images are available in a larger size if you see an image and it is not the right size for you and your needs. Just email me and I'll upload a larger file. Thanks for taking the time to read this and hope you enjoy my images here as much as I did creating them!