Meet Kara :: {Women In Business Interview}



Hi Kara! Thank you for taking the time to share with everyone a little insight into how you run your successful photography business & letting us just get to know more about you! First off tell us a little about YOU! What are a few things you love, that maybe have nothing to do with photography or your business! Thanks so much for having me! I’m excited to be a part of your Women in Business Series. So a little about me and a few things I love…. I love decorating. If I wasn’t a photographer, I’d seriously consider going back to school to become an interior designer. I love making things looks pretty in the spaces that surround me everyday.

I also have a love hate relationship with working out. I love how I feel after I work out but I dread heading to the gym. Getting fit is something I’m really committing myself to in 2012. And lastly, if sleeping were a hobby it would be pretty high on my hobby list – I can never get enough sleep. It’s nap time? I’m on it lol. In short that’s me other than being a photographer, wife and mom.

Where are you located, and how long have you been in business? I’m located in Mesa, Arizona and have been here for 3 years. I began my business in Seattle, WA in 2003 and then moved in 2006 to South Carolina where I resumed business once I was settled. I’ve moved a lot!

 How did you first get started in photography? Being the youngest in my family means there aren’t a lot of pictures of me as a baby/child. Of course there are pictures but not the same as a first child. So I’ve been intrigued with pictures since I was young, excited when my parents dug up another picture of me from when I was a toddler. That’s when I realized how important pictures are. They’ll be passed down from generation to generation. And once time passes, that time is gone forever. So I’ve been obsessed with preserving it. In High School I got my first Nikon 35mm SLR camera and practiced on fruit trees in my parents backyard. But studies pushed my interest aside. When my son was born in 2002 I become obsessed with preserving every moment of his life and that’s when my passion reignited and I went back to school to learn more about photography.

Are you married? You mentioned one son, how many children do you have? How do you best manage your work time with your family time? I am very happily married and I have two children, Tyler (9 years old) and Brielle (6 years old). Balancing running a business and spending time with my family is something I endlessly work on trying to properly juggle. I love what I do but I know the time I have with my kids is so short and it’s time I won’t ever get back. So I opt to choose my family over work much of the time while still keeping my business going. That means limiting the number of sessions I do per month so I can properly focus on those clients but also have time to enjoy and be with my kids and my husband.

What camera body do you shoot with? What is your favorite lens to use? I shoot with a Canon 5D MkII {switched from Nikon once I went digital} and my favorite lenses are my 24-70L f2.8 and my 70-200L f2.8 lens. Both offer so much flexibility and sharpness!

How would you describe your photography “style”? How did you go about developing and perfecting your look? Oh tough question….I would describe my style as fun yet moody, real yet whimsical, colorful yet a little vintage. It’s really difficult to put into words your own style of work.

This sort of plays on the last question here, but “How important do you think it is for a photographer to be consistent to a style?” “Do you think it’s okay to switch post processing styles up to fit the mood of certain images, or do you think it’s better to keep things unified when displaying your work or say your website, or blog, facebook etc?” Good question. I definitely think maintaining your style is important but in keeping with your style it’s also pertinent that you edit each image or session to fit the mood. If you’re photographing a little girl dressed in a little vintage dress then I think the mood says vintage so the processing should fit. But your style should come through no matter what processing method you use. I use a variety of processing looks but I think I still have a distinct style.

 What is your favorite subject(s) to photograph? My favorite subjects to photograph are children – 3 year olds particularly. They do what they want to, they’re genuine in their emotions and you always get the ‘real’ them. But I also love siblings – the interaction you can get is fun. But any age children I enjoy – toddler through teens as well as families.

 What editing programs do you use ~ Would you share a little insight into your workflow? I use photoshop CS4 right now. This busy season felt I had to do something about my workflow. I took on more clients than I typically let myself and didn’t want to be buried in editing day after day. So I decided that the day of the shoot I will also edit the shoot. So my clients had their gallery up and ready the next day. It was such a relief to have it done and ready for them to view and order time sensitive things like cards and other gifts for the holidays. There are exceptions to the turn-around but for the most part I’m trying to keep to a quick turn-around and efficient workflow.

That is awesome!! Okay almost done here, promise! 🙂 What has been your best form of advertising? How do you bring in new clientele? My best form of advertising is ‘word of mouth’. I don’t really ‘advertise’. Facebook is another great way to share recent work and attract new clients. My blog has also been great for advertising and showing snippets of my sessions and my commercial work.

And finally what are five pieces of advice or helpful hints that you would give anyone who is looking to better their businesses?

* Try everything! Experiment. You won’t know how to do something if you don’t try it.

* Even if you’ve been in this profession for a number of years your learning doesn’t stop. This industry is changing all the time and it’s pertinent to be aware of the changes and emerging software, products, and gear.

* DON’T compare yourself to other photographers. Stick to your style and perfect it.

* Get together with local photographers and develop friendships but don’t talk shop or about other local competition when you’re together. Friendships are important in this industry. It’s lonely if you’re so afraid of the competition that you keep to yourself.

* Shoot for yourself so you don’t get burned out. Make it fun so the passion and enthusiasm remains.

 Love it Kara! Thank you so much Kara! It has been a pleasure featuring you this week! 

Readers please leave your comments and feedback for Kara & this series if you enjoy it!!

  • Tiffany Farley - Love her work!

  • Haleigh - Great Interview! Love Kara on a professional and personal level! She is an amazing talent and an even more amazing and generous person!

  • Jenn Penn - What a great interview! I think the fact that she is so family-oriented comes through in her work; her photos have a real sense of family togetherness. Her photos are incredible!

  • Lizzy Anne - Completely inspired by this artists body of work. Such great tips for business too. I’ve been in design and photography for a number of years I still find those tips useful.

  • mugsie5 - I always recognize her “style” It evokes many good feelings

  • Kara May - Thank you so much for the wonderful interview Heidi! I feel blessed to see so many sweet comments. I had fun being a part of your ‘Women in Business’ series.

  • Kathleen Rasmussen - Kara’s style is so beautiful. The picture she took of my granddaughter was incredible!

  • Melissa - Simply stunning. Enjoyable interview with such talent.

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