Interview with Kaley from Kansas

May 20, 2020

“I started in 2011, doing photos sporadically with mostly a point and shoot and a disposable. Fell out of it in High School. Then I got a BFA in Photography in College, did a lot of film. I actually want to get back into film this year. As a senior I did a wedding and fell in love with people! Started on digital and just kept going and have loved it since. 

I have mostly done couples/weddings and families with a some editorial. I do maybe 20 weddings a year and then some collaborations.”

Jamie: “People love your unique light/emotion. We are excited to have you shoot us! Can you give us a sneak peak of what your shoot in Palm Springs with Benjamin Holtrop will be about?”

Kaley: “So excited to work with Benjamin! I’ve been following him forever and we are going to make magic together. It’s going to be a couple, more editorial. I love adventure, but this will be conceptual/editorial with some fabric involved with some fun! I’m inspired by old school black and white film photo. There will be closeness and be intimate with a spin and experimenting with angles and composition. 

I’ve had lots of requests for my process and it’s hard to explain unless your with me. How I get them to comfortable. This shoot I’ll be able to do that. I’m so excited to see it come together.”

J: “People already bought your Pass option before seeing the boards!”

Kortni: “I mentored with you in Jackson and learned so much! It was cool to see your process and you have such a unique eye! I loved Jackson and I am excited for Palm SPrings.”

Kaley: “Jackson was one of my favorite places and it was my first time visiting not just for running around but we had beautiful couples sessions. Desert landscapes are my favorite and can be done a little more serious.”

J: “What is your main teaching topic for Palm Springs”

Kaley: “Mostly about making honest photography. Making the couple comfortable, placing them in a location/positions that makes sense for them as a couple. 

“Other photographers put them into a scene and expect them to be comfortable even though it’s not who they are. Maybe not there personality. It needs to be about what environment makes sense. 

“Honest work is very vast. With connection/light/perspective and using time at the end for experimentation. And a big thing is NOT doing what everyone else is doing, mostly in regards to location. That is a huge part of what I do is what is best for them.

“I love discovering who your subject is and how people connect, what makes them them. Not just a pretty outfit in a scene and put them out there, let them make the magic. It’s a collaboration with them and me. 

“My process and how I frame – I give them a pep talk at first and not a lot of photographers do that now. I talk about how there are no expectations and we can do personal work at the end. That is how I feel honest work should look.”

J: “We talked about the Fyre Festival documentary and how there is all the hype on something and then there is no value. Kaley, you are going to give us tangible steps on how to achieve honest work.

“She’s not going to give us some surface level talk. It’s going to be a how to and what it requires. You really care so they understand and can benefit their business.”

Kaley: “It’s a good reminder that we may work in the wedding industry but we are invited to their best day, their best season, they want us to come and tell their truth. Moms don’t get behind the lens and my greatest gift to give them is images of what they’ve created, their family and how beautiful it is. 

“People like to talk how I am always in well curated homes and wearing all these brands, but there is so much more that goes into it that is not being seen. Mothers are appreciative when I gift them these images, it makes their world.”

“It’s the best way I can serve. A wedding is the best day of their lives and I want to tell their story. I approach it cinematically. People say my style is like movie stills. I don’t like to be in a box. I like different work and creating processes. I never approach any shoot the same and I always try to make it different. Some photographers rely on the familiarity of a venue, I want to be done with it after I’ve shot it once. That’s why travel is such a good thing for me and why I love it as well as it being a huge inspiration. I do have a bucket list. A lot of photographers have these bucket lists so they can go for free, hoping for more work. That is not service based work.”

“I ask the right questions, if they are wanting to elope, what makes sense to them and discovering who they are.”

“Asking the right questions is huge. Telling their story in the photographs. They tell me after, “I didn’t know you were getting that!”

J: “Photographers can sometimes get so rushed and they think what is the closest location so they can get back to their families. But the focus needs to be on the client and giving yourself enough time.”

Kaley: “I would spend the time, typically my slot is 90 minutes, and I don’t include driving. If we are in a hurry I’ll talk them through it and we can make magic. It’ll show in the photos if it is rushed. If there is something they want to try and it’s part of their story then I’ll stay longer and get it. If it’s important to them, it’s important to me. So important though is don’t be in a rush. And make it clear what they can expect. They might expect 100 photos but they’ve never been engaged before. But if they love and I’m at my mark I’ll just give it to them. They don’t know how many images you’ve given other couples. So that is why there is some leeway in the mark.”

K: “How do you explain how many you give them in a set number?”

Kaley: “I put an average on my welcome guides, so they know. It’s typically the same for most. I don’t leave anything out. If it’s not working you shift your perspective.

“Never stop moving, I never stop.”

K: “You never stop! When we mentored last year you had me in positions I’d never get in! It was my favorite part, how you challenged me!”

J: “I think it’s affected your work in a positive way.”

K: “It has, 100%!”

Kaley: “Challenging yourself is a good way to switch things up and surprise yourself. I don’t expect the couple to never stop or just sit in one spot the whole time. If it starts going bad, don’t show it and move on. I’m very visual. Always keep moving and make fun of yourself. If your confident, the couple will be confident. If things are not going well, switch it up. I feel like I am a pretty good judge of character and with kids sometimes they need a break and couples need some space. 

“Don’t have expectations. It’ll probably not go the way you want it to, so be in the moment. 

K: “Someone asked how you give space to the couple?”

Kaley: “Typically I have them walk away from me, and I do a wide shot. I feel my brides are more comfortable and have been photographed before and she gets her fiance comfortable. I try to get on their level. Talking with them I ask questions, “How did the proposal happen, how did you meet?” My camera will be at my side  and as they smile and laugh I raise my camera and take a shot, lower it, raise it. This gets me a more honest response. I remind them of the beautiful moment and I walk away, while they relax and then come back. Couples are all different, some are serious and some are adventurous.”

J: “In regards to questionnaires,  some have long, short, some do calls to get to know the client, what are your thoughts?”

Kaley: “I recommend offering a questionnaire to your clients, even just 5 questions and at least a phone call ahead of time, Facetime where possible and offer a genuine conversation to get to know them. Not too much so there is nothing left when you go off to shoot them.

“Connecting with people is a strength of mine. Use whatever you are to your advantage. If Facetiming and you see something in the background you can say, “Not to be creepy but I see you have…. I totally love that!”. Try to find something in common ground.

“Or you can tell them that sometimes I’m quiet and I have a quiet approach. Are you okay with that? Most don’t want you in their face, What I get is my personality with theirs while giving them their space.”

J: “What advice would you give for someone starting out?”

Kaley: “Definitely mentor with someone you admire! I’ve only 2nd shot 5 times and it would have been helpful to do more. Don’t let fear take over. Fear is the #1 killer of creatives. Make sure you do personal work. Personal work is a Godsend and is so refreshing. There are no expectations, even if you only get like 5 frames, it’s like “Hell yeah!” it makes it worth it. If there is something you want to shoot grab some people you know in your circle and make it happen.”

J: “Don’t be afraid to ask people for a mentorship and ask the right questions from someone that specializes in what you want help in. I was scared when I first started to ask specifics of what I wanted to work on. Ask, “Can you help me with this…” So you don’t end up saying “She’s cool but I didn’t learn anything.” Too many newbies are afraid to ask that.”

Kaley: “People say they wasted money on Mentorships and Workshops and they need to ask the right questions before going into it. We do a style shoot for my mentorships for 1 on 1. I think questions that make sense to them. It’s not like putting a model couple in the mountains for a workshop and done. 

“Be honest with who you are and find a mentor to ask those questions to.”

See more of Kaley here: http://www.kaleyfromkansas.com/ and on Instagram @kaleyfromkansas


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