Happy New Year friends! We hope you all had a safe and happy holiday season and that 2013 kicks off with a great start! We are kicking off the New Year with our very first CMpro of the Month for the year, the fabulous Kate T Parker! Kate is a brilliant natural light photographer with a knack for creating beautiful and dramatic art. We are thrilled to have an interview with Kate be the first thing on our photography blog this year!
january cmpro of the month | kate t parker
To start us off, when did you get the photography bug and how did you pursue it?
Like so many others, I started off by photographing my kids when they were born. Struggled to get the shots I saw in my head, upgraded cameras, realized that didn’t really get me all the way “there.” I was really picky about what I thought was “good” coming from an advertising background, the art directors and graphic artists really made me see images in a different way that I had before. I read a lot online, read books, took classes, workshops all to get my images to match what I saw in my head.
At what point did you decide to turn your photography into a business?
I had a true light bulb moment. I had long toyed with the idea of a photography business, but I mistakenly thought I had to follow someone else’s model of business. I thought professionals took the kinds of pictures that I didn’t want to take. I wanted to capture real moments, real emotions, real families and the second I realized that I could shoot that way, I wanted to start my business that second! I was happy if just one family liked the kinds of images I took. That maybe others might like it, too. Keeping true to my style and my model of business has been huge for me in terms of growth and general happiness.
Business is difficult. Would you mind sharing with us one of your biggest business dilemmas and how you overcame it?
I am actually still in the midst of this dilemma. I love to shoot new things, different things, love new opportunities, so my focus can be a bit scattered. I am a family photographer, a wedding photographer, a fine art photographer, a commercial photographer, a newborn photographer.
I am not sure if and when I am going to have to choose one or if choosing all is hurting other aspects of my business. Right now, I just feel like it is allowing me to get better.
What has been your biggest reward from being in business?
I love being creative on a daily basis. I love that what I do makes people really, really happy (most of the time). I love that I help to create memories for families. I love that my job allows me to create art (from time to time). I love being able to pursue my dreams while still allowing me to be a full time stay at home mother.
You have a gift with using light to create beautiful, dramatic photography. What is your ideal lighting situation?
Thank you! I love dramatic light. It makes our jobs as photographers so easy! Great light equals amazing images. Find the light and pose your subject well and you’re golden. My ideal situation for light is always, always window light. It is so flattering, so versatile and almost always available. The window light in my garage is the best. I shot 60% of my personal project in my garage and a ton of my daily project as well. I have my first client to request a “garage session” on the books for 2013. So excited for that!
Does the lighting that you’re surrounded by factor into whether or not you even shoot? In other words, will you choose to shoot at another time if the lighting is not ideal to you?
For clients, I will request to almost always shoot an hour or two before sunset. I love the gorgeous golden hour light. However for my personal work, my daily project, which are mostly of my own kids, I have no such luxury. My kids are so over me photographing them, so I have to bribe/pay/plead them to work with me now. Seeing amazing light sometimes means I need to remember where and when it was and start working on them a day or so in advance about the shot I want to get.
I shoot daily and keep my eyes open all the time for something new – new light, new things we’re doing, new places we’re going to shoot and always for a willing subject. I think the lack of control I have over when and where I shoot has really made me grow as a photographer.
Much of your processing consists of converting to black and white – why is this?
For my personal work, I think black and white just helps to create whatever mood I am going for with the image. Most of my personal work (um, due to aforementioned lack of enthusiasm from my subjects) does not consist of happy, smiley images. I am happy to get a “stand here. Look at me. No, look at ME, not the dog. Please. One more. Yeah, I know I said one, but I really meant 10 more. Beautiful. Thanks, okay. You earned a lollipop.” The images are moody, pensive and sometimes frustrated and a lot of the time that mood works well for black and white processing. It is pared down and the emotion is easier to read without color.
Do you find that you shoot differently when it’s for yourself vs for a client?
When I shoot for clients, I know that I am not going to deliver 30 black and white moody images of unsmiling children. At least, I’ve yet to have that requested. ;) I know clients want a mix. A mix of posed, unposed, candids, black and whites and colors. So, yes, I shoot differently. Although for client shoots, I always try to deliver what I think mom wants. I ask, then ask again, “what images should I not miss?”. You miss those images and you’re not ever shooting that family again. That being said, every client shoot, I still shoot for me. I shoot the artistic shots. The black and whites I love and more often than not, clients really admire and appreciate them.
You’re working on a breakout session for CM. Can you provide us with a little teaser please?
I am SO excited about this. I felt like I was back in college working on this!
It is called “Creating and Recognizing Opportunities” and honestly, it’s a little of everything. I started my business a little less than two years ago, so all I’ve learned in those years is fresh in my mind and I love to share. I really pored my heart and soul into this. I know what busy women we all are and wanted to make it worth your money and time. The breakout is low on “fluff” and full of actual tips and “do this” sections of how I actually shoot, edit, find locations, etc. I discuss topics like how to find your personal style, how to shoot in a home that is less than ideal, how to find and create dramatic light, the importance of personal projects, how to edit, my workflow, and the best (and most embarrassing section) a “how not to do it section” on basically all my screw ups.
We’d love to know, what are some of you photography goals/resolutions for this year?
My goals for 2013 include learning how to shoot a large format film camera. There’s a local photographer that has agreed to tutor me and I cannot wait for this! Also, setting up and learning how to light and shoot in a small studio in my home. I just really want to grow and explore this coming year.
Thank you Kate for the lovely interview! Make sure you head over to Kate’s website, blog, facebook, twitter and Instagram to view the rest of her gorgeous work. You can also view one of her sources for inspiration on her Pinterest board and if you have a question for Kate please visit her ‘ask a pro’ thread within the photography forum.