Valerie Topete – Photography Secrets

Valerie Topete is a bike courier working for one of the most prestigious courier companies in New York City, Mercury Rises. Topete is also an amateur photographer. She loves to take pictures of scenes she comes across during her travels throughout New York on her bike whenever she can. She hopes to one day launch a second career out of her photography. Her unique perspective as a bike courier lends her work an unexpected nuance. Here are three tips for other amateur photographers:

Valerie Topete

Light is everything. Before you start taking pictures, ask yourself how the lighting is. Valerie Topete is constantly concerned with the light before she takes any kind of picture. Photography, after all, is the use of light to make pictures on film.

Always have a camera. Many of the pictures that Valerie Topete takes are from her smart phone as she races through the city to deliver parcels, packages, and important documents for her clients. While she also makes time to take her fancy camera equipment out for a shoot, she is also always prepared to take pictures with whatever device she has. You never know when inspiration will strike you.

Scattershot doesn’t work. Professional photographers take many photos to ensure that they get the right look. When looking for subject to take pictures of, don’t think you can take a thousand pictures of everything you see in the hopes that one will turn out. Be mindful of your subjects and make every snap count.

Valerie Topete lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children.


Valerie Topete – Fighting for her Job at Mercury Rises

Valerie Topete has been fighting to keep her job and her clients at Mercury Rises for four years. This may sound like a stressful time in her life, but she has loved every minute of it. For three years after she first moved to New York City in 2008, she delivered parcels, documents, and other materials to clients throughout the city as a freelance bike courier. As her client list and her reputation grew as one of the most consistent couriers in the city, she caught the attention of John Tudebaker, the owner of Mercury Rises, a highly competitive bike courier company dedicated to excellence.

Valerie Topete7
Valerie Topete

John Tudebaker founded Mercury Rises in 1992. Back then, bicycle couriers were used for many more operations than they are now. With the rise of digital technology, many would have thought that bike couriers would have gone the way of the dodo, but Tudebaker found that people still needed signed documents, architecture plans, subpoena papers, and other materials delivered throughout the city. He had to lay off many of his staff in the early 2000s. Over time, his business has recovered, and he hires couriers like Valerie Topete to compete with each other to earn the best routes and get the most work. He keeps a small staff of couriers to foster excellence through competition in order to meet the high expectations of his clients.

Valerie Topete made her career from being the best bicycle courier Tudebaker ever met. She has competed and won the best and most frequent routes out of any courier in Tudebaker’s high staff.

Valerie Topete – Freelancing Advice

Valerie Topete calls the three years she spent working as a freelance bike courier some of the most fun moments of her life. Topete moved to New York City in 2008 with little idea of what she would do for work. She got her parents to co-sign for a tiny apartment in the Bronx, the only place she could afford at the time. Topete started looking for work and found an offer to deliver a late birthday gift across town for fifty dollars. She hopped on her bike, which she had always loved to ride around the city everywhere she lived before, and delivered the gift. Once she found out she could make money by doing what she loved-riding her bike and exploring the capital city of Planet Earth, she started taking more jobs and before long, she was working as a bike courier full time.

Valerie Topete quickly found more clients willing to pay for her deliveries and found great success as a freelance courier. Freelancers of all kinds can learn from Valerie Topete and her experiences working as a freelancer in New York. Topete practiced and learned the streets of New York as well as she could so that she wouldn’t be late for deliveries and always be able to find her destination. She rode around by bike even when she wasn’t delivering important documents or packages to learn which routes were best and how to avoid getting hit by the various kinds of traffic of New York City. Her most important lesson to all freelancers in all industries is to practice your work until there’s no one better.

Valerie Topete now works for Mercury Rises in New York.