Thursday, June 9, 2011

Photographer Interview: Kara May Photography

Some people
are good at stylizing shoots.
Some people 
have perfect little models built right into their family.
Some people
are kind and helpful and willing to share.
Thank you to Kara May Photography for taking time
to share with us!

You are a California girl originally, so how did you end up in Arizona?  

I grew up in a military family (my father was a Navy Doctor) so we moved around a lot.  I was born in Pocatello, Idaho and moved to Southern California when I was 3 years old.  I was in California (up and down the coast) through High School.  

But I attended college in Washington and later got a job in Downtown Seattle, where I met my husband.  With his job we moved to South Carolina in 2006 and soaked up small town southern living for 3 years.  It was a fun adventure and we met so many great people.  

But life had us on the move again.  With the banking industry going sour Jeff left the industry and got a job in the only state I requested HE not apply in. LOL.  
It was too good to pass up so that’s what brought us to the Phoenix Valley.  Jeff’s parents are here so that has been a blessing and the desert is growing on me, thankfully. 

What do you like best about each place?  
I love the ocean, the smell of the salty water so I miss being in Carlsbad, Southern Cali.  Luckily, it’s driving distance from AZ and I have some great friends and clients there.

Seattle has so much!  I love the culture, the diversity, the many things to do downtown and many of my friends and family.   South Carolina was beautiful, quiet, slower-paced and peaceful.  

I miss antique shopping there– it’s the best I’ve ever seen!!  I miss the  many abandoned barns, homes and farms that I could explore.  I also miss the friends we made and my loyal clients there, who still e-mail me, making me smile.  Lastly, the desert….I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the light.  
At first it was a bit of a curse since it was so different from any of the light I’d ever photographed in before.  I also love the people here.  I’ve met so many great families and formed so many wonderful friendships here.  Also, the photographer community has been very warm so I’ve developed great connections with my peers here.

You love the light. Tell me about what you look for when you are going out to shoot.
I’m kind of a lighting snob, lol.  But seriously I’m very picky about locations because of the light.  If the light isn’t great, I avoid those locations.  I look for light that streams through hair and envelops my subject.  I love hazy warm light.   I choose locations that most people would dismiss – there’s nothing really special about them (or so it seems).  But to me, it’s about the light and not necessarily the setting.  

When did you start your photography business?  
I began my business in 2004.  After I left my corporate job with Microsoft to be a stay at home mom, I needed something for me. 

 Dealing with financial statements, SEC regulations,  and time critical pressures really suppressed my creativity.  I didn’t have time for a creative outlet so all creativity went into hibernation.   When I had a few months to spend with my newborn son and not be pressured by deadlines my creativity resurfaced.   And my passion for photography resurfaced after I dusted of my 35mm Nikon and became reacquainted with it’s possibilities.
What do you love the most about being a photographer? 
Oh gosh, there’s so much I love about it!  I think what I love most is interpreting life and moments the way I see it.  Making the simplest things pretty. Capturing my family and kids in everyday moments that I’ll cherish forever.  Preserving moments and chapters in my client’s life that they’ll now have forever.
Your puppy is named August (and might be the cutest doggy in all of Arizona : ) tell us the story of his name. 
This question makes me giggle.  I adore our little August!  I’ve always loved the name August for a boy.  We adopted our little fur ball in the month of August, so it was fitting.  His full name is August Saturday May.  We got him on a Saturday and of course our last name is May but he was also born in May so it all just makes silly sense.  

Who hosts your blog? How did you decide upon that?  

Dreamhost hosts both my blog and my main site.  I have a pro-photo blog.   I wanted a blog that I could easily customize.  I’m actually in the process of re-branding myself since I’ve had the same logo and look for 3 years.   

So I’m going to be changing the look soon.  Jared, at ProPhoto has been amazing to work with.  I’m not an extremely techi person so Jared has been gracious with answering questions, and helping me with any issues I’ve encountered with my blog.  

How important do you think having a blog is for your business?
 I think a blog presence is very important.  It’s more important than a website for marketing and staying connected.  My blog allows me to share my recent work, things that inspire, my thoughts behind the images I take.  It’s my small voice and little space in the huge virtual world.  

How often do you post? 
It really fluctuates.  I try to blog at least once a week but there are times when more time passes (usually when my business is crazy – I think I need an assistant during these times lol).  

Do you shoot every day?   
In the beginning of my business I shot every day.  Now I shoot prob 4 to 5 days a week.  If more than 2 days go by and I haven’t picked up my camera, I get restless and have to photograph.   I love photographing the little things when I’m just shooting for myself.    

What are the actions you can not live without? 
I make a lot of my actions since I haven’t found a set that is ‘me’.  But there are so many great actions out there!  
If you were telling someone to get their very first action or set of actions, where would you tell them to start?  
If I had to recommend a set for purchase I would say Totally Rad Actions.  They have a little bit of everything in them.   I also love adding textures to my images.  Some of the ones that I think really compliment my photos are Florabella’s Textures and Jessica Drossin’s Textures.   Both are amazing!

You have studio equipment and you also use natural light. What do you like best about each thing.
I love the look of natural light – it’s real and soft and ample in the desert.  J  I like studio lighting because you can manipulate the lights to get the look you want, soft & clean or sharp & dramatic.  I would love to play more with studio lighting but I’m spoiled in Arizona with the amount of natural light – even in the sizzling heat of the summer.   The light just begs to be used out here in the desert.  

When did you decide to get studio equipment? How has that affected your business? 
I purchased my studio lighting about 5 years ago – I get it out about 4 times a year and use it on select commercial work, for parties with a photo booth at our house, and on location at a clients home.  It’s not a primary part of my business but it’s been a good supplement to the variety in my images
Do your kids get tired of being in pictures? Tell us how you bribe...I mean, work with them to get them to model : ).  
LOL – love this question.  My kids used to be really hard to capture in front of the camera.   As they’ve grown up they’ve learned to love it.  Whenever I ask Brielle if she’s up for a photo shoot, 9 times out of 10 she’s giddy with excitement.   Bribery works during times when I really need to photograph commercial work – and all it takes is money.  Both kids work amazingly for $.  It could be as little as $2.  It’s magic!  

Do you have a favorite song we can all enjoy as we read?  
Well I’m addicted right now to Pandora – The Freshman Radio, where my favorite artists are played:  Regina Spektor, Rachel Diggs, Adele,  A Fine Frenzy, Kate Nash, Ida Maria, Lily Allen and Ellie Goulding.   Sometimes when I need to stop working and go to bed, I’m kept at my computer inspired and reeled in by every song I hear.  It’s always, "After this song is over I’ll shut down for the night"….11 songs later I’m saying the same thing.  ;o)

Is there an artist you click away from inspired by daily
 I wish I had more time to read fellow photographers blogs.  There are so many wonderful blogs to be read.  I try to visit loyal blog reader’s blogs, pop in and say hi when I can.  But for inspiration I look through Magazines, and I’m addicted to Pinterest.  When I’m tired, I pin.  When I need a work break, I pin.  Just before bed, I pin.  On my phone when I’m bored, I pin.  My husband thinks I need a support group for pinning addicts.  He may be right.

Kara, your blog is wonderful because it is different. 
While many bloggers and photographers seek out a certain niche, you embrace many aspects of life on your blog, and it works beautifully. What made you decide to be different than everyone else?
(Maybe you could talk about how you intersperse fashion, sessions and family equally throughout the posts.)
Thank you, I’m glad others see it as unique.  My blog encompasses what makes me tick, what I like, what’s happening in my life now, and what I’m working on.   So I touch on fashion, my personal life, random posts and client sessions.  Since my business is based on life, memories, children & families; I touch on all of those aspects in my own house.  I’m a business owner, and a real person too, so I share personal, non-business related moments on my blog as well as business related posts.
Your state is very sunshine filled. What would you do if you lived in a gloomy state like Alaska?  
It’s funny you ask, I have a photographer friend that lives in the  icy state of Alaska and we’ve chatted about how dark it is during the winter and how we find peace and calmness in the darkness.  Unlike most people, I come alive in dark & gloomy (strange I know).  I think the stillness gets my brain going, that’s why I can’t fall asleep easily at night.  
I would definitely have to have a studio and perfect every aspect of studio lighting.  I would love to visit Alaska, maybe someday. 

 Seattle, even though it’s not like Alaska, was darker in the winter than any other state I’ve lived in and I loved it.  It would get dark by 4:30 in the winter but in the summers it would stay light till 10 pm.  It was challenging for me starting my business there and if I still lived there, I think I would need to lease some space for a studio. 
What lens is most often on your camera? 
The lens I use most is my 24-70 L 2.8 lens.  I’m a zoom girl – I just can’t get used to a fixed focal length even though I know the images are sharper and better SOOC in a fixed lens. 

Because you do so many shoots for clothing, your Brielle has to be the best dressed 5 year old around. Do you love that? : ) 
 Ha, I love the clothing that Brielle gets from the talented designers I work with.  Jeff fears her teen years with her addiction to these wonderful, unique clothing lines. 

 I have yet to get rid of any that she’s grown out of.  I will be selling/donating ones that are too small for her shortly just trying to figure out the best way to do that.   Any suggestions?  I’d love them ;o)

Does she pick out her clothes in the morning, or do you do it for her? 
She picks out most of her clothes and definitely has her favorites.  If I get into her room in time in the morning I can pick them out for her.  She likes to wear winter clothes in the summer and summer clothes in the winter.  She’s entertaining.

Tell me about your dream shoot. Where are you? Who is with you? What are you shooting? 

Oh wow.  My dream shoot.  I think it would be documentary in nature. A little different for me.   But I would want it to be a shoot that told a true story about life, struggle, endurance and strength. 
 It would be just me and my subjects; with a lighting crew available as needed.  It would BE a shoot spanning several years.  I’m envisioning something historic, something forgotten, and something that’s a little taboo.   I can’t put my finger on what that would be but I think it’s a story of someone’s life.  

Delving and documenting aspects of anguish, joy, heartache, peace, resolution and raw realness.   Have I lost you yet?  This is what my mind does at night when I’m trying to sleep – churns, imagines, thinks about these things and doesn’t rest.  ;o)
Kara May

Come and share whatever it is you are working on in your studio this week.
I don't have a studio, but I do have a desk : )
and I totally count putting these interviews together as a project I work on.


Anthony from CharismaticKid said...

The best kid photography I have ever seen. Truly brings out the beauty of these children.

Casey Freeland said...

Oh, that teary girl broke my little heart. Oh, my, you know how to take a picture.



Just Bits and Pieces said...

Absolutely beautiful....beyond've pinned some of her images that I recognize here...MUST follow now!

Caroline said...

WOWZA! Great interview. The photos are so gorgeous and full of warmth. Thanks Becky for introducing Kara!!! I am inspired!

Angie said...

wow!! gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! I wish I had your eye for great pics!
Thanks for sharing :)

Rachel said...

Sorry to be so unoriginal- but Angie was right with "GORGEOUS!"

I love these shots... so soulful and yet light.

And speaking as someone from Seattle - I know that this is an AWESOME time of the year to be shooting - it's still light out !:)

Dina @ 4 Lettre Words said...

Goodness! These are so, so beautiful. How sweet is that little tutu-wearing-cutie in the chair??? LOVE it.

Tamar SB said...

Wow - these are simply stunning! I usually am not such a fan of the faded/sun flare photos but she converted me fully!! And her dog is SO cute!

Buckeroomama said...

Another wonderful interview, Becks!

I love that she has many different "looks" to her photos --all gorgeous! :)

AMKreations said...

Wow...what a great post and love the photos...with exception to the one in the building...with the glass floor...that would totally freak me out!!! =) The composition is amazing though. Beautiful work!

Danyelle said...

I absolutely love the "Where the Wild Things Are" shoot! These are beautiful and I love her use of texture, which says something because I normally don't go for texture.

Sharon said...

Oooh, I have a new love. AMAZING interview! Thank you for sharing!

Rebecca said...

Terrific photos and SO beautifully edited.

Laura said...

I just adore Kara, inside + out! Such a fun read of my sweet Kara! xoxo

Lorrie Everitt Studio said...

Beautiful .. thanks for introducing us to Kara May

Chrysler said...

I love your photography! I started following your blog when you lived in South Carolina and your photos are a constant inspiration for my own work as a photographer. I loved hearing from you personally in this interview. Great insight! I'm the same way about outdoor light and a zoom lens. I've been told its less professional but I don't agree ;)

Kara May said...

I'm completely flattered Becky! Thank you!! You really know a lot about your interviewee and that means so much. The questions you ask are thoughtful and relevant. You're awesome - thank you for contacting me :)

JennyB. said...

Miss Kara May, I remember laying eyes on your work when I was still very new to photography. You wowed me then and you wow me now. You are a true artist and a wonderful person:) So happy to read more about you and gaze at all this eye candy!

Cindy said...

Another great set of thought provoking pictures and ideas!


lifebythecreek said...

The light is AMAZING! Oh my goodness, makes me totally rethink what I look for in light! I am in awe. And I do have a suggestion for the lovely clothes; if there's a children's hospital near you, see if they do "Flashes of Hope" type shoots. You could donate the dresses (and maybe even a shoot or two) for little girls with no hair but lots of hope....

Raymonde said...

Oh my! She is sooooooo good! Thanks for taking time to do the interview Becky.
Have a great weekend. xxx

Teachinfourth said...

Where in the world do you find these photographers?

Wonderful images!

Caseybumpinalong said...

Goodness these are beautiful photos!! I'm in love.

marie said...

I've found her blog last week and I really love her work. very good interview

Anna said...

Took my breath away. can I be like you when I grow up? What incredible photography. I see photos like this and know that is why Indians had beliefs about photography and the soul. (oh, my daughter wears a 4-5T giggle giggle)

Sherri@SDGartistry said...

Oh my goodness-this is the BEST photography I have EVER seen. EVER. And I see quite a bit! So glad you linked up for In the Studio today! The interview was phenominal-I couldn't wait to get to each next question!
Sherri Ohler

Palm Tree Princess said...

That was so fun to read! I have had the glorious privilege of working with Kara and Brielle and they always let our clothing shine at its brightest! Kara is a true talent : )

Heart n Soul said...

FABULOUS .... that is all!!

Angela@the crazyness that is me said...

Holy Cow! Thanks for sharing her with us all! What beautiful photos - I love them all. The way she finds and uses light is amazing!

Skeller said...

delightful colors, beautiful lighting, delightful questions, fun answers ... love LOVE the August Saturday May name story and the baby + brother + wagon + cactus made me grin ear to ear. Thank you oodles for sharing Kara with us all, Becky!!

Melinda said...

I am blown away by her art! What an amazing talent for capturing beautiful light and pure and true emotions! Great interview Becky!

Susan said...

Oh my...what can I say? Her work is stunning, breath taking!

And this interview was out of the park!

Thanks once again Becky, you truly are gifted in so many ways.

Hope you have a great weekend my friend♥

Kara May said...

Oh what a fantastic idea lifebythecreek! I love that idea for the clothes Brielle has outgrown - thank you for that great idea!
And I'm blown away by all of your wonderful comments. Becky has some very kind and thoughtful blog followers. I'm honored to be a part of it.
Thank you all!! :)

MarshaMarshaMarsha said...

what sweetness to capture! i do love the light and her use of texture. it is refreshing to see such variety of photography from one person. well done!

photowannabe said...

Stunning and fascinating. Kara is beyond talented.
Thanks for this interview Becky.

penny said...

Love, love this work. Thanks for the great article

Jennifer @ Studio JRU said...

Oh my goodness... beautiful photos! Such a great interview Becky! August Saturday May is too cute. How great that her children are so cooperative. They are adorable models! I love how she can capture the spirit behind the eyes... oh those eyes... beautiful! :)

Casey said...


Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

The photos are absolutely amazing. Incredible work, Kara.

I keep wanting to say "mary Kay" - I bet you get that a lot.

What lens are you using for the photos that have a "halo" effect - like, I can tell the focus in the center but it's not really DOF in the blurred area, it's something else. Is it a Lensbaby?

Like the one of the baby sitting on the couch on the dirt road. Or the shot of the evening cookout on the driveway. Just curious.

Kara May said...

You guys really know how to make a girl feel good. Thank you - I'm beyond flattered :)
Texan Mama, on the cook-out picture I just blurred the edge in photoshop. Most of the effects are done in photoshop but I have borrowed a Lensbaby for a few of my images. It's a really cool effect in limited uses (otherwise my viewer could get dizzy if I used it too much) LOL. So glad you like it.
Thanks again xoxox!!!

Erin W said...

Love, love. love! Kara has such beautiful, dreamy and inspiring work!!

Rhonda M. said...

I have been peeking at karas blog for a few years now.

The other day I was thinking that exact thing..."I wonder what Kara does with all those amazing outfits?""Wish I was her neighbor!"

A question I have been dying...DYING to know is does she purchase all of them herself or do the designers just send them to her for modeling:)

Kara I love your work!