Staff member Richard Acosta stands in front of photos
Richard Acosta’s work is featured in several places around Odessa including the UTPB campus, and soon across the state too.

If you love attending UT Permian Basin sporting events (and who doesn’t?!) then you’ve probably seen Richard Acosta running around. Acosta is the Director of Marketing for Athletics at UTPB. When he’s not overseeing game operations, supervising the sports information office, serving as the Vice Chair of Marketing for the Lone Star Conference, or gearing up as the incoming President of UTPB Staff Senate, you can catch him doing one of the other things he loves: photography.acosta.artwork.jpg

As if Acosta’s resume isn’t impressive enough, his talent behind the lens is gaining recognition. In fact, you can some of his pieces at the Ellen Noel Art Museum until August 9. But Acosta will be the first to tell you photography didn’t always come easy for him.

“The first time I picked up a camera I was a journalism student here at UTPB. I was 19-years-old and my camera was a Pentax K-1000. It was built like a brick and weighed just as much!”

Acosta is a UT Permian Basin alum. He was only 3 credit hours away from earning his degree in 1999 and eventually went back to finish in 2013 – proving to it’s never too late!

"I took my very first photograph on this campus and I owe all my success to hard work and being a Falcon.”

Reminiscing about his time as a 19-year-old college student, Acosta said the Pentax camera was 100% manual. He shot in black and white film and developed the photos himself in a dark room, but, turns out, those skills didn’t transfer to the real world.

“My first job, at the Monahans News, I helped with some pictures, but when I got to the Midland Reporter-Telegram two years later, we had photographers, and everything was digital. So, everything kind of just passed me by. I would take pictures every now and again, but nothing beyond vacation stuff.”

It wasn’t until many years later that he was reintroduced to photography when he was gifted a Rebel T4i. Acosta was excited but had never worked with a digital camera before so he bought a book on his iPad and, long-story-short, it ended up being a waste of $5.99.

“Chapter 1, page 1, first paragraph: If you are a film photographer who is changing to digital you do not need this book. You need to learn how to use your camera. Go read the manual.”

And that’s what he did. Now Acosta enjoys showing what West Texas has to offer.

“My style of photography is in line with what I enjoy doing. I love hiking, camping, and using my Jeep to get to places other people won’t go. I shoot a lot of landscapes and night photography now. I think I just love to take those remote places back home for everyone to see and enjoy.”

acosta.artwork2.jpgThose beautiful West Texas shots are gaining much deserved recognition (seriously, if you haven’t seen them, you need to!). Acosta’s work is featured in several places around Odessa including the UTPB campus, and soon across the state too.

“In addition to the Ellen Noel show, I currently, have photos in the Texas Photo Society show that will be in Lubbock (it will be rescheduled after COVID), a show in the Dallas area, The City Hall Public Art Exhibit hosted by Odessa Arts, and my photos are featured on four traffic boxes as part of an Odessa Arts Public Art Collection. There is also a photo of the ‘Lone West Texas Tree’ in financial aid on campus.”

Getting his first “yes” for his passion project can be simply summed up as a “pinch-me” moment. Acosta said he’s honored that other people enjoy his work.

“It is humbling. All these shows are juried shows, so to have an artist look at your work and say, ‘yes,’ is a very high complement indeed. My first ‘yes’ was for the Texas Photo Society show in Lubbock and it was capped at only 50 photos. When you are up against photographers from California, Florida, New York, Austin, Dallas, Houston – just making it in the show seems like a dream. So when ‘Lone West Texas Tree,” got third place, I was over the moon.”

Acosta adds, none of his success would be possible without the people who matter most to him.

“There are a few key people who have made all this possible. My fiancé Brenda Siller for her unwavering support, because, as my mom says, ‘sometimes you are a lot!’ Speaking of, my mom and dad have always been two of my biggest fans of everything I have done in my life. Randy Ham and the Odessa Arts board for always being champions for all artists. Jim and Nelda Rose, for all they have done for me and for inviting me to be part of their lives. Finally, UTPB. I took my very first photograph on this campus and I owe all my success to hard work and being a Falcon.”