Another month brings a new CMpro of the Month! Let’s start this month off with a huge congratulations to June’s CMpro of the Month, the fabulous Kellie Bieser! And now for a fun interview with Kellie!
june cmpro of the month | kellie bieser
Hey, Kellie! I’m thrilled to see you as Pro of the Month. Congratulations! So, now we want to know all about you and your family… Spill it!
Hi! I am thrilled to be here as Pro of the Month! I am Kellie and am a wife, mom, photographer, and after-school art teacher. I am married to Mr. Bieser who is currently transforming a barn into our family home and never ceases to amaze me with his power tool prowess. I am mama to Oliver (a baseball-obsessed, book-devouring 9-year-old), Noah (my sweet, sensitive 7-year-old artist), Annie (my spunky, chatterbox of a 4-year-old), and a baby-on-the-way (whose personality will undoubtedly surprise and amaze me). They are my favorite people in the world, even when they are driving me crazy.
Your work has such an uplifting feeling, even when the mood is heavy. Can you tell us a bit about how you approach working with your children?
This is a huge compliment as having work that encourages my audience (even when the subject matter isn’t necessarily “happy”) is a high priority for me. As far as working with my own kids, it depends on who it is…Oliver is typically cooperative even if he gives me an eye roll every now and then. He is at the awesome stage where I can really have conversations with him and so when photographing him, I try to just talk to him and let the expressions occur naturally. Noah, on the other hand, will moan and groan the minute he sees my camera directed at him. I either have to plan a good bribe, a serious brooding shot, or an action shot where I can be sure he will forget about me taking pictures. Annie is my little muse and loves to be in front of the camera. She is my partner in crime and has no trouble following directions and giving me the expressions I am seeking for a particular portrait (feel free to throw your virtual tomatoes…I am well aware that such a child is rare for us photographers!). As much as I love photographing them, sometimes it just isn’t working…I have a strict rule that if I feel myself getting frustrated, I put the camera down; it’s not worth traumatizing my kids to get the shot.
So, now that you’ve told us about working with your kiddos, do you find that you shoot clients differently than you photograph your family?
Yes and no. When I am photographing my kids, I am usually trying to get just one image and I typically know exactly what I want that image to be before I even bring out the camera. With clients, I am trying to create a gallery of images and have to be a little more flexible with my “vision.” That said, I interact with my clients and my own family much the same way…I tell bad jokes and roll around on the ground and giggle and have fun. I always meet with clients before a session to get to know them better and give them a chance to feel comfortable with me before I shove a camera in their face. I like to think that this familiarity is what makes my sessions fun and helps me create client images that are authentic.
The images of your children, together, have such genuine emotion and interactions. Do you have any tips for getting children to smile, laugh and connect?
My kids really are friends and so capturing their interactions…the good and the bad…is pretty simple. I have a game that works particularly well for the boys where I tell them to get closer…closer…closer…until their noses are smooshed together and they both end-up in fits of giggles. That moment *just* as the laughter is beginning to subside is where I get those sweet smiles and moments of connection. It’s a timing thing.
If you could photograph one person, alive or passed, who would it be and what/where would you shoot?
Oh goodness, this is tough. I can honestly say that my kids are my dream subjects and that they are and always will be my number one choice to photograph. But that answer is cheating a little bit, isn’t it? I think if I had the opportunity, I would photograph my paternal grandmother with her kids in the sixties. I never had the chance to meet her and have only ever seen one picture of her (a formal portrait). I love my family’s history and often wish that I had more images to accompany the stories.
You are absolutely fantastic at getting in the frame with your family and children (individually and together). Can you share some tips for interacting with your kids while being in the picture?
I have a love/hate relationship with self-portraits. I hate taking them (I am always sweating by the time I am done) and hate editing my own face (no one should have to see their pores in high definition at 450% magnification), but I love what they will (hopefully) be to my kids some day. I rarely shoot these to look “pretty” but rather to show my relationship with each of my kids at these particular stages. With that, my biggest advice would be to try your best to ignore the camera and have a real interaction with your children. Easier said than done, I know!
What is your biggest source of inspiration? How do you find inspiration?
Of course my biggest source of inspiration is my family, but I am one of those weird artsy types who is constantly distracted by things that inspire me: pockets of light, my Facebook feed, a book I am reading, a really good dessert. Mr. Bieser will tell you that I will stop everything around me in an instant if I am struck by inspiration…he is a very patient man! I have been keeping a journal of one-sentence autobiographies this past year to document everything that inspires me and have found it to be a great reference when I am in a photography slump.
I see that you studied American History in college. Do you find any unifying threads between your interest in history and your photography?
A connection most definitely exists between my love of history and my love of photography. In fact, I consider the two to be the connectors of my life’s passions: photography is my artistic side actively documenting current history. I am constantly aware that what I am creating, whether it be for my own family or for clients, will be the future’s visual reference for these people in this time period. I like to think that my study of history gives weight to what I create as a photographer and guides me through the entire creative process.
I was reading, on your website, Shutter and Glass, that you have a project you are working on called “The Thirteenseven Project”. It sounds fascinating and is so inspiring. Can you tell us a bit more? What does the name “Thirteenseven” stand for?
Oh, how I love this project! It started with a picture I took of my parents on vacation…they were on the beach and hugging and looked like two teenagers in love. It is one of my very favorite photos I have ever taken because it is my parents and I love them and am so happy that they love each other. But beyond that, it made me think about all of the couples who have lived life together…endured as partners through years and circumstances…and whose only photographs together are from their wedding day. This project is my way of encouraging those couples to get in front of the camera again and show how the years of love are just as beautiful as the young love. It is an ongoing series that I do just for me and it has really brought me such joy in so many unexpected ways. “Thirteenseven” is in reference to 1 Corinthians 13:7, a verse that regardless of religion is a helpful reminder of what love is supposed to look like.
I hear you have a Breakout on the horizon! Can you give us the inside scoop?
To say that I am excited for this Breakout is like saying that watching Adam Levine do yoga is kind of neat. An understatement if you will ;). I am going to be exploring the idea of being a rebel in this industry and breaking rules in photography, business, and life so that you can pursue authentic art. Being creative can be exhausting and defeating if you are constantly pursuing someone else’s idea of “correct,” so I am working to help you find your own path and tread it confidently. It’s going to be a lot of fun and I have some giveaways in the works that are going to be worth the price of admission (shameless bribery…I am not above it at all!).
Thank you Kellie for the fantastic interview! Make sure you head over to Kellie’s website, facebook, twitter, pinterest, and instagram to view more of her gorgeous work and keep up with her happenings. If you have a question for Kellie, you can ask in the comments below or in her ask the pros thread on the forum.