Another month brings a new CMpro of the Month! Let’s start this month off with a huge congratulations to May’s CMpro of the Month, the fabulous Kristy Dooley! And now for a fun interview with Kristy.
may cmpro of the month | kristy dooley
by Kristen Ryan
Hi Kristy! Congratulations on being May’s CMPro of the month! First, will you tell us a little about yourself and your family? Can you also tell us a fun or quirky thing about you unrelated to photography?
Thank you so much for having me as CMPro of the month. I’m nearing my two year anniversary with Clickin Moms this month so it’s an honor to say the least! I live in Vermont with my husband Jason and our two daughters. Makenna is three and Allie is two. I’m first and foremost a SAHM to my girls and they certainly keep me busy!
Fun or quirky, huh?! I start almost every morning with a long walk or run solo before my husband leaves for work. I’m honestly not sure what I would do without my early morning fresh air and exercise. It sets the stage for my day and I go out year round, rain or shine, which in Vermont can be quite the adventure.
Your journey from new photographer to CMPro on Clickin Moms is very inspiring and was rather fast paced. When did your journey begin? And aside from a natural eye, what do you think contributed to your quick growth?
Oh goodness, it has been fast! I fell so hard for photography and as soon as I bought my first dSLR something sparked inside of me and I just knew I wanted to put everything I had into learning all that I could. I bought my first dSLR in October of 2011 when I was pregnant with our second daughter; immediately put it on Manual and fumbled my way along until I found CM. Honestly, for me, it was the amazing classes at CM that contributed to my quick growth. I love being a student and once I started taking workshops I couldn’t stop. The combination of the talented and dedicated teachers, quality lessons, and the commitment of turning in a weekly assignment I was proud of constantly pushed me out of my comfort zone. I’m also an advocate for personal projects as they are a huge part of my work and my commitment to growing and learning.
You have come so far in your 2 year journey. What do you hope the next two years will bring to your photography?
Thank you! One of my favorite things about photography is the relatively “immediate gratification” of taking an image that I love in combination with the never ending opportunity to learn, grow, and develop my style. This year I’ve been focusing on growing my business and defining my style within my client work. I’m hopeful this will continue over the next few years. I also look forward to the opportunity to continue giving back to the CM community, with my upcoming breakout being the perfect first step!
Photographing young children is challenging, to say the least. Your images of your young girls are filled with natural emotion and connection. What are some tips you would give to others who want to capture these genuine and meaningful moments in their young child’s lives?
That’s a huge compliment- thank you! I’m very sentimental at heart so infusing my images with emotion is something I am always striving for. My biggest advice for doing this is to stop playing the comparison game and shoot for you. It can be so easy to get caught up in technical perfection that the moments that will matter most to us down the road can be missed. There is a lot of hidden meaning in my images, even in my non-portrait work. A lot of it might not be recognizable to my audience but it is to me and that’s what matters most. When I first started shooting I was so caught up in the technical side of photography that most of my images were single subjects and rather static. Since then, my emphasis on emotion and connection has grown. For example, one of my biggest goals this year is to capture the relationships in my life, i.e., my girls together, my husband with my girls, my girls with their grandparents (and great-grandparents) and them with me as well. I find that the emotion of an image soars when the relationship between subjects are strong.
The motivation to pick up the camera came initially from the desire to capture your daughters. But your photography has expanded to include a love and talent for macro and food photography. You share some wonderful tips on food photography in your breakout. Can you share how this interest developed?
Absolutely! My love for macro and food photography developed completely by accident as my intention when I first got started was only to photograph my family. As I worked my way through the CMUniversity I found that I was getting frustrated practicing all I was learning about my camera settings and lighting on my girls. The feeling was mutual on their end and I was worried about them hating my camera and my photography becoming a negative experience in my family. I started turning to flowers and food to practice lighting, composition, and all the technical basics until I felt confident enough to go back to my girls. My new subjects were perfectly still and didn’t mind how long it took me to get the shot. I quickly discovered how therapeutic non-portrait work can be. Like many moms with young families there is rarely a dull moment and in the time behind my macro lens I find myself able to slow down, relax, and concentrate only on the subject in front of me. My approach to food and macro work is simple and unique as that’s what works for me and my life at this time.
Currently, you have a display of your food photography at a local café and have had a display at Starbucks in the past. Can you tell us how this came about and do you hope to continue displays like this in the future?
Of course. My husband likes to tease me for my “ready-fire-aim” mentality. I’m definitely more of a feeler than a thinker and when I sense an opportunity I jump. I came into both of these opportunities after noticing local art displays at different locations in my town. I simply picked up the phone and inquired about how I might be added to the list for an art display. The waiting list for both places was quite long which was perfect for me as it gave me time to decide which pieces I wanted to display. It’s a thrill to have my personal work displayed and enjoyed by others and I certainly have my eyes open for other opportunities.
You are also in business! How do you find the balance between your client based photography and satisfying your personal work?
Oh, balance, that’s something we are all striving for, isn’t it?! While I started with photography to capture the fleeting moments of my young family I quickly started receiving inquiries from friends and family and discovered another love of shooting for others. I’ve set some pretty clear guidelines for myself this year in terms of how many clients I want to take and finding some childcare for my daughters so I could have some dedicated time to work on my business and with my clients. I find having defined hours for work and my family is really important for me.
In terms of my shooting, I do my best to prioritize my personal work. On the weeks where I do a lot of client work it can definitely be a challenge to fit it in so I find having a personal project that I’m working on helps keep me on track. I’m about 100 days from finishing my second 365 which I’ve shot exclusively with my 100mm. It’s been a challenge but definitely one I’m glad I took on.
You will be presenting at Click Away in September. Can you give us a preview into what your attendees will take away from your programs?
I am so excited for Click Away! The agenda and lineup of speakers is amazing and I’m honored to be a part of it. I’m leading a couple of small group workshops, one on using a macro lens day-to-day and the other on my approach to food photography. I’m really excited to give a peek into how I go about both of these topics. I’m also leading a Macro walk and a fun excursion within Salt Lake City to explore the use of depth of field. It’s going to be so fun to meet everyone at CM in person!
Looking through much of your work, you have a wonderful use of color, and the majority of your images are processed in color. Are you more drawn to color images? What leads you to choose to process in black and white?
Oh yes, I’m a color girl. To me, color just screams childhood and I love using color to help bring even greater emotion into my work. I am drawn to color outside of photography as well and I can usually be found wearing a rich or bright color and it makes sense that this has carried over into my photography. This all being said, I do enjoy a good black and white and I almost always know when I take a shot if I intend to convert it. For me, a B&W is completely about the light and although I do prefer color, I love the way a well-executed B&W can put the focus completely on the emotion in the image.
Before we say goodbye, could you tell us what you hope your breakout attendees will take away from “All in the Details?”
I’m so excited to share my breakout with everyone- I’ve been working hard on it for months and it’s been such a rewarding process to put it all together. My big goal is that attendees walk away with empowerment and inspiration to capture all of the details in their everyday life. The little things make up life and they deserve to be captured and remembered. A treasured lovie slumped over a crib railing, the petals of a flower (or weed) little hands picked, and the curly wisps of toddler hair. It’s those pictures that will bring you back into the everyday moments of your life and will truly tell you and your family’s story. I’ve also shared a lot of information about my love of macro and food photography with lots of pullbacks and details on my lighting and setting preferences so participants can not only read about how I shoot, but see it too! I look forward to seeing my breakout participants learn how to bring greater meaning and sentiment into their work. I can’t wait to get started with it!
Thank you Kristy for the fantastic interview! Make sure you head over to Kristy’s website and facebook to view more of her gorgeous work. If you have a question for Kristy, you can ask in the comments below or in her ask the pros thread on the forum.