We had the good fortune of connecting with Riley Combs and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Riley, why did you pursue a creative career?
As someone who has always approached life from a creative standpoint (literally my entire college and professional career), my interests + hobbies also followed the along on the creative train. For as long as I can remember, I have been the “picture-taker” of the family. Birthday parties, Christmas morning, you name it—I’m there snapping a picture. There is something about capturing a single moment and looking back on the emotions felt + memories made within that split second. I also love getting to meet new people through photography. I have the opportunity to be a small part in someone’s world when they choose me to be their photographer. The moments shared leading up to a session and throughout are memories I don’t forget and now have to hold onto as I hopefully have those individuals in front of my camera time and time again.
I should also mention the side of this career that always me to bring visions I have to life. It’s a very rewarding process to go from a small concept to a fully developed project within weeks or even days! I enjoy getting to play around with colors (the more the better over here) and mixing concepts to create something new. It’s the creative process that comes with this career that I never take for granted and is 100% what keeps me going!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I graduated from UNT in May 2020 with my Bachelor of Arts in Converged Broadcast Media & a minor in Journalism.
I then continued onto complete my Master of Arts in Media Industry and Critical Studies at UNT this past May (2022)
I have been working full-time in digital marketing since July 2021, so almost a year and half now. I knew I wanted to be in a space where I could create content and be engaged within digital marketing and social media management efforts. And here we are! Little did I know my career in photography would be just as successful and also be a full-time job for me.
I am so thankful I have both a thriving photography business and a successful role as a digital marketer to allow for many outlets of creativity for myself.
I think the biggest challenge I have while ultimately having two different create careers is the balance between working and time spent for myself. I often find myself closing my work laptop at the end of the day just to slide over to my personal laptop and hop in on what I have going on in terms of my personal work. It can be hard to step away and take time to decompress or have a self-care moment when I am also self-employed. This means if I’m not working, work won’t get done for the clients who have trusted me with their investment and time. On the other hand, if I am not spending time to focus on myself and my needs, I still cannot provide the utmost best work I possibly can for those clients. Hence, the never-ending battle of work life balance. It is SO important and I am still working everyday to ensure I balance out those areas of my life and career.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
It’s like I’ve been waiting my whole life for someone to ask me this question! So let’s get into it.
I have lived in Denton, TX for the past 5 years ever since coming to UNT in 2017. Over the years, I have found my favorite spots in Denton, and have the honor of introducing so many loved ones to these spots when they visit.
Let’s pretend you drive into Denton on Friday just in time for lunch. Cartwright’s on the square is the place to be for all your comfort food needs. Their Mac n’ cheese burger and the chicken tenders are two entrees that can’t be beat. You of course have to treat yourself after to a scoop of Beth Marie’s “cinnful oat” ice cream. Now that you’re in a food coma, let’s pretend it’s time for dinner. I would spend Friday at Barley and Board or 940’s without a doubt!! You can top off the night with drinks from Vinyl Lounge (super cool bar you have to visit) or even head over to Harvest House for live music.
On Saturday morning, you wake up bright and early and head to the square for an iced matcha latte with oat milk from Jupiter House. While the morning is still quiet, walk down a few blocks to the Denton Community Market and take a peek at all the local goods and treats from vendors. You have to get a breakfast sandwich from O’Brien Bros and a loaf of sourdough to go. Another must-grab is a bottle of Soco ginger beer to craft up the best Moscow mule later on.
After you have stocked up on local goodies, head back up to the square to wander into the now open retail and local stores. My favorite stop is the Recycled Books store on the corner of Oak and Locust (trust me you can’t miss it, it’s PINK!) You could spend hours here wandering up and down the isle of books, movies, records, and more. After more shopping around the square, you might have worked up an appetite.
You definitely have to try out Gyro 360 right off the square and get their feta fries – they are BOMB! While you’re over there, hop over to Vagabond Vintage to pick up some thrifted threads that you’re sure to be in love with.
At this point, you probably need a nap lol, or just a leisure afternoon. My suggestion for the best outdoors spots to sit and chill are on the courthouse lawn on the square, or near the pond at Southlakes Park. Take some time to embrace the Denton air and chill out before the night!
For dinner you HAVE to hit up LSA on the square (yes back to the square we go). try the brisket queso and garlic parm fries! I also won’y judge you if you need to stop back by Beth Marie’s for another scoop of ice cream (it’s that good).
On Sunday, you have to have your brunch plans set on 7 Mile Cafe. Their pancakes, breakfast tacos, or loaded potato bowl are all 10/10 selects. If you’re headed out early, don’t forget to stop by Discover Denton on the square for some Denton merch!
If you have it in you for one last must-have meal – it’s definitely chicken and cheese empanadas from Boca 31. Sit outside on the patio and soak up the last weekend moments from you weekend trip to Denton!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
When very first starting out in photography, I was so lucky to have had so many friends willing to be my models and let me figure out the ropes with them by my side. I met some of these amazing friends through North Texas Sweethearts, a spirit organization on UNT’s campus. (@NTsweethearts on IG)
I then was able to begin taking graduation photos of friends who I had also met through Sweethearts. From then on out, it was a snowball effect of people sharing photos I had taken of them, and their friends coming to me for graduation photos.
After being in the grad space for a bit, I adventured off into couples, editorial, and more styled sessions. This continued to help me grow as a creative and meet new people along the way.
Over a year ago, I met a sweet photog friend, Emily Pittman (@emilylizphotography on IG) through a photoshoot I won from her! Emily is literally my rock when it comes to all things advice in the photography space. She has been like a mentor to me and saw value in my work and I when I maybe didn’t see it myself. I truly am so thankful for Emily’s kind words and motivation to keep pushing me to be the best version of myself. She is a hype queen and everyone needs an Emily in their life!!
Facebook: Riley Combs Photography