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About

 

Hey ya’ll it’s Rita!

So this is the “about” page where I’m supposed to be clever and witty and charming, right? None of which is me. So I’m going to get real for a minute if that’s cool with you? Ok here goes:

Short Story:

Rita is a full-time traveler roaming around the US in a 38′ motorhome with her husband, Val, and their two dogs and two cats. She is a professional photographer and has a guilty pleasure of singing karaoke. She and Val have been married 15 years and met online when she lived in San Diego and he lived in Los Angeles. They moved to Austin in 2008 and decided to travel full-time in 2017.

Val works remote from our RV as they travel, and Rita manages their social media and does commercial and lifestyle photography with local small business on the road.

Looking to collaborate or hire Rita for your next photography project? Contact her here to get in touch. And visit the Media page to learn more about her professional background.

Long Story:

I grew up in Southern California with a single mom and we were dirt poor. Like free government cheese, poor. (Anyone else even know what I’m talking about?). “Section 8” apartments were the norm and I remember one time trying to make my canned SPAM fancy by stabbing it with cloves to look like, well, a real ham.

My mom did her best but being only 19 when she had me (in the 70s no less), my childhood was a bit untraditional. Let me put it this way: one of my regular chores was to water the weed plants and my first concert was Bob Marley performing in Berkeley, Ca. (Where, BTW, my job was to sneak in the booze, since we all know venue security doesn’t suspect the 4 year old little girl).

…one of my regular chores was to water the weed plants and my first concert was Bob Marley…

As you can imagine, I was a very free child… who grew into a very rebellious teenager. I was kicked out of pretty much every high school I went to (for utter insubordination) and got seriously into the punk (aka angry youth) sub-culture. Skaters and guys with mohawks were my best friends. And dressed in all black was how I felt most comfortable. Invisible even. Which is exactly what I wanted.

Then in a radical turn of events, I went to the Dr one day for the flu and discovered I was pregnant. At 17. And for some reason, I decided to keep this little baby and become a mom. The father (and my incredible boyfriend) and I tried to make a sincere go of it.  We even got married! (Still 17) My son, Tyler, is now 27 years old. (And I’m divorced from his dad.) But like I have told him many times: Tyler, you saved my life.

Being a mom changed my entire life trajectory and put me firmly on a new path of love and healing.

But you know the one thing that was a constant for me growing up? Photography. Even being as poor as we were, I would take my McDonalds paycheck (we all gotta start somewhere, right?) and buy film for the camera I bought at the thrift store. I’d ditch school and go downtown or the beach and take photos of anything and everything that looked artsy to me. I’d ask my friends to model while I photographed them with all their cool and edgy punk styles. And then I’d pay to get my film developed (always wishing I had the money to learn how to develop it myself). My walls were plastered with 4x6s.

I’d ask my friends to model while I photographed them with all their cool and edgy punk styles.

So there I was: a teenage mom and wife, a high school drop out with her GED and some very basic computer skills. I took any job I could get and went from being a kid who hated school and authority to being a Usability Specialist for Turbo Tax at Intuit and eventually became a Marketing Manager and PR specialists for an Inc 500 company out of Los Angeles. (Which, BTW, is where I started to learn photography at a professional level, which of course I loved.)

Work. Work. Work. I developed anxiety attacks (even rushed to the ER a few times), chronic fatigue syndrome, and told I had Fibromyalgia. My (now teenage) son was starting down the exact same destructive path I was on when I was his age. Things needed to change. So I quit my job and went to massage school where I learned about energy healing, essential oils, crystals, and all kind of alternative health modalities. My husband and I left everything and everyone we knew in Los Angeles and moved (having never even visited) to Austin, TX. And we began a new life.

So I quit my job and went to massage school where I learned about energy healing, essential oils, crystals, and all kind of alternative health modalities.

Feeling lost in a new town, Val asks me one day: If you could do anything in the world what would you do? Immediately I answered photography, of course. So with every cent of our savings and even a few loans from family, we bought everything I needed to work as a professional photographer. Cameras, lenses, flashes, strobes, umbrellas, backdrops, you name it. I was mentored by some of Austin’s top wedding and portrait photographers.

We even moved into a loft space that I turned into a studio and client meeting area. I eventually partnered up with another local photographer named Nicole (who became one of my best friends) and Knots and Tots Photography was born. I also immersed myself in the Austin scene, photographing for local festivals and events and becoming a Getty Images contributing photographer working with the massive SXSW festival.

One of my dreams (hopes really) was that we’d become these high-end destination wedding studios. Because we both really wanted to travel the world. Yeah. That never happened. But it brought to life my next greatest passion: travel! So when Val and I had the choice of buying a new custom home in Austin… or buying an RV to travel around the US, the answer was clear.

Yeah. That never happened. But it brought to life my next greatest passion: travel!

So here I am today. A travel addict and photography junkie. With this eclectic background into all sorts of alternative health and healing stuff, like energy work, meditation, essential oils, and shamanic indigenous practices. A reiki master with a love of finding sacred lands to explore and photograph.

There you have it. That’s all about me. So don’t be surprised if one day you see me drumming, talking about essential oils, experimenting with some new self-help program, or even just playing my native flute. That’s what I do. All the while, pausing to photograph a new adventure on our travels, something interesting we’ve eaten, or maybe even just my furry babies. And you’re invited to come along on all it. Because that’s another great passion of my mine: community. And if you’ve read this darn far, then I know you’re my tribe. And I can’t wait to share all of our travels with you.

And you’re invited to come along on all it. Because that’s another great passion of my mine: community.

 

Oh and hey, if you’d like to collaborate on a project, I’d love to hear your ideas!

Until then, happy roaming and many blessings.

Rita