Today’s interview is with Courtney Keim.


If you could take only three pieces of gear on a shoot, what would they be?

My Canon 5d Mark II, my 85 1.2L (or 70-200 2.8L – depending on the session and subjects) and my 7 million Crumpler (it keeps out the sand from the sessions).

What was your first experience in photography?

I wish I could say it was years ago when I was a kid and I loved to take pictures of my toys, etc.  but in all honesty, my parents to this day do not own a camera.  We traveled the world (Ireland, Germany, Poland) and I have no photos to prove it … but you can check my passport – the stamps are there!

I became more interested in photography after the birth of my daughter (can we say MWAC?) and the 10,000+ images I have of her.  Since then, it has become an occupation rather than a hobby.  Unfortunately, since the birth of the business, my little guys got the shaft and I have nowhere  near the number of photos I have of my daughter.

If you could shoot alongside any other photographer, who would it be (and why)?

For weddings, hands down, it would be Susan Stripling.  I adore her style of photography and the richness of her photos.  I would love to know how she is able to capture (and subsequently process) her wedding photos.  I am in amazement at every wedding she blogs.

For newborns, Keri Meyers.  For seniors, Michelle Moore. For families, which I predominantly photograph, I’m going to say Tara Whitney.  I stalk her blog and love what she does with families – specifically families on the beach.  She captures them in such a way that tells a story … and I live at the beach so it would be perfect, right?

Other than photography, do you have any other creative outlets?

I’m a computer tech geek.  I love blog design but the actual coding not the creation of logos, etc.  I love html, php, all that fun behind the scenes stuff.  I started off designing solely for the prophoto blog design store but have since taken on custom blog design.

Tell us one thing you wish you’d known when you started your business.

It’s so much more than pretty pictures – in more ways than one.  Before you collect your first dollar, go legit.  Get the licenses, etc.  then get your camera off auto and learn to photograph and minimally edit a good SOOC photo.  If you need 5,000 actions to save it, it probably wasn’t worth saving in the first place.  Okay,  that’s more than one thing – sorry!

What’s on the horizon for your business?

Someday it will be a full-time gig.  Right now I take a break from mid-November through April to concentrate on my teaching job (I teach chemistry and physics in an alternative high school).  Someday, I’d love for it to be full-time but unfortunately no one wants beach photos in mid-January when it’s 20 degrees out.  So in actuality in the off season, I’ll be focusing on my clients looking for new blog designs and developing new templates for the prophoto design store.

Describe the perfect session.

Gorgeous light, whether it be in someone’s backyard or at the beach and a fun family that is relaxed in front of the camera  and letting their true personalities shine through.

What is your current favorite photo that you’ve taken (and why)?

My daughter had an aversion to the camera for so long.  But one day, she came to me in a dress she had picked out and she asked me to find a field of yellow flowers (her favorite color) so I could take princess pictures of her.  So we hopped in my car and drove for what seemed like hours.  We finally found the perfect field and there was a forest off to the side.  We heard some noises and she started to tell me the story of the witch that lived in the woods.  She was so animated in telling it and was so relaxed.  I got my favorite photo of her as she looked off to see if she could find the witch.

If you were not a photographer, what would you be?

Well, seven months a year, I’m technically not a photographer … I’m a teacher.  I love love love my job and it allows the science geek in me to come out.  But all things considered, if I could CHOOSE what I wanted to be, I’d be a full time web designer but work at home … and my home would be a little beach bungalow off the Kuhio Highway on the north end of Kauai near Hanalei Bay.

What aspects of photography do you find most challenging?

Sometimes I feel like I’ve become complacent in my work.  Most of my clients already know what they want in their session (90% of my sessions are summer beach portrait sessions) and I have a list of poses that I rattle off in my head each and every time – I feel like I know what they want and I do it … because it’s what sells.  I need to challenge myself to step out of my comfort zone  and switch it up.  Can we say lifestyle?

How would you describe your artistic style?

I think I’m a  simple girl.  Not many props, just a focus on my gorgeous clients and the amazing locations that I have the opportunity to utilize.  I want my clients to look at my photos 30 years from now and not focus in on the processing and think “Wow, that was a fad” but rather  “The processing was so simple and classic that this photo could have been taken yesterday.”

If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go and what would you do there?

If I could go anywhere, I’d go to Bali. What would I do there?  Um, live there.  Seriously.  But let’s be realistic.  I’d go back to Kauai (which I am in December).  My husband would surf, my kids would be wading in the water at the beach and I’d be relaxing with Kindle in hand.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

The ability to fly because I’m late for everything – maybe this could speed me up?

Quickie Questions – One Word Answers!

Canon or Nikon?


Prime or zoom?


Studio or on location?

On location

Natural light or flash?

Natural light

Neck strap or wrist strap?

Wrist strap

Color or black and white?


Mac or PC?


Photoshop or Lightroom?


Sunrise or sunset?


Heels or flip flops?

Flip flops

Beer or wine?


Thanks for sharing with us, Courtney!  You can find more of Courtney’s work on her site.