Instagram Contest Win | Seattle Street Photography

Originally meant to post on August 13th, 2014….

I’m writing this late, and I’ve had an emotional evening so maybe it’s not utterly the best time to write anything anywhere BUT I’m going to blow my horn for a moment. And in a moment…

I am at the end of Day 2 of being in the studio audience at creativeLIVE for Family Photography: Modern Storytelling with Kirsten Lewis (who I will have to say more about soon) and I have to say it has been an amazing course. Exploring the art and business of documentary-style family photography and learning from the best there is, from Kirsten Lewis has really got my ‘creative cogs’ turning. For some time now I have wanted to do sessions that are more lifestyle and documentary than posed, including ‘End of Days’ sessions for companion animals, and for families with pets included. This current course totally bookends the other Creative Live course I took part in, ‘Animal Photography with Rachael Hale McKenna’, along with my extensive pet photography work, and the style of shooting is just me. I’m at a crossroads with my business and so much more so I’m excited.
But my big deal today was winning 1st PLACE in the creativeLIVE Instagram challenge contest for Day 1 and I am thrilled. Stoked. Honored.
The challenge was this: Make a portrait of a stranger. You must take the time to talk to them, connect with them. Get to know them and share their story. This is to challenge your fear and reinforce how just taking the time to connect will gain you access and trust. Don’t forget about finding good light.
Well here’s the story and photo I posted. I received such overwhelmingly great feedback on Facebook and Instagram about it that I am genuinely touched and honored. Please feel free to leave any comments and feedback here – it’s utterly inspiring to hear from people!

I feel like I hit #kirstenoncreativelive1 contest gold this evening. When I heard we had a CL Instagram challenge: great. When I saw that it was to introduce myself to a stranger to get their portrait and ask them their story: yikes. I’ve always wanted to do such a thing but honestly never had the gumption. But I couldn’t have been happier that I did. While at the farmers market with my boy, eating freshly-made quesadillas and ice cream, this street musician with a kind face and one of those boots on for a hurt foot, played his guitar, and I finally got myself up to talk to him. Within seconds of me talking, he asked if I’m English (which I am), immediately recognizing my accent and from then on he couldn’t hold himself back on sharing his story. In his own muddled English/American accent, he told me his name is Joel Fleming, “but really I’m a ‘Davis’, of Welsh descent”, and he turns 60 this year. His military father had moved their family to England when he was a teenager and he spent the early 70’s there, a time that impacted him greatly. He told me fond tales of going to the summer solstice festival at Stonehenge with his friends. About meeting numerous musicians he admired (still to this day) at concerts. About hanging out at Hyde Park in London, and calling into a radio station and getting to say hello to John Lennon. He talked with fondness about the country that I love and miss myself, and how desperately he wishes he could visit again and find a way to stay there. Joel wanted a portrait of himself holding his new Stetson hat that he had saved $230 for, something he was obviously proud of. He showed me where in his jacket he’d hide his money so it wouldn’t fall out and also explained to my inquiring son about why he had the protective boot on: he’d had the tip of his big toe removed because of diabetes. He bared so much of himself to me with his stories, his openness, and probably spoke for half an hour or so. I don’t know if he’s homeless and I’m not sure that it matters, but I feel like many pass people like Joel by and never give a second thought to that person. He just wanted to share and for that I’m grateful.

I hope you enjoyed this post, the workshop (if you saw it) and I am excited to see where my new inspiration leads me. I’ll be back on here soon!

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Getting Your Cat Ready for Picture Day | Seattle Cat Photography

After photographing just sooo many cats at this point, it’s high time I wrote this post, to give some tips for preparing your cat (and your home) for his or her ‘picture day’. Everyone knows that cats don’t like being told what to do, they don’t listen, and don’t like their space invaded, so getting a cat photographed seems like an impossible task, with a teeny bit of luck thrown in. I’d say there’s good reason that many pet photographers specialize in photographing dogs as opposed to fickle felines; they’re usually trained at the very least to sit and stay but I’ve only met stage cats (for film) that will do that! It’s the challenging nature of cats that actually draws me to them though. Nervous cats can be extra challenging, but I mostly photograph cats in their usual/familiar environment and this helps a lot with their comfort level. Cats are homebodies so following them about their business at home suits things just fine.

Definitely happy at home... Copyright K.A.Moore Photography.

Definitely happy at home…
Copyright K.A.Moore Photography.

On the matter of creating the right kind of space in your home to help me get the best images that I can, the number one consideration for every photographer is the light…light, glorious light! If there’s a room or a space in your home that has gorgeous natural light streaming in through the windows, that’s the place I need to shoot! Luckily, many cats just love looking out the window, watching birds, and lying in the warm sun, so it’s often a fab spot for me to get kitty in her element. Tyra 1 logo webI can get photos though, in many different lighting situations, when needed; I am able to use light modifiers such as a reflector in order to bounce light back in, and I’m also adept at using flash if I need to as well. Cats are a lot more accommodating of flash than you’d think, but if I don’t have to use it, I won’t. I can even add a single light to a room. Which reminds me: artificial light, like in a bathroom, is probably the worst for photos (minor cringing happens when I realize that’s my best option!) but if I have to make it happen there, I will. Luckily that mostly happens with the most nervous of rescue cats, who prefer a small space to feel safe in.

Tilly 2 re-editIn the most basic terms for getting cat photographs and the best environment for them, is there a room she is likely to hide in, and will it be hard for me to coax her out? Is the cat enclosed in a small room and liable (and able) to hide under the bed the whole time? This happens quite a bit with rescue cats and it’s less likely to happen with a cat more comfortable in a permanent home. It’s sometimes fine to have kitty in just one room so they feel safe, but with others they may feel cornered. Is your cat comfortable roaming the house and doesn’t mind new people? Then I’m happy to just figure out how to get images based on their movements. I have become quite adept at being as stealthy as I can following cats around for the right shot! For the sake of making the photos as clutter-free as possible, so as to keep the focus on the cat, it’s helpful to me that you clear away items in your space that won’t look great in the final images, like computer wires and so forth, have the carpet vacuumed, that sort of thing. I suppose if your kitty is insanely happy about lying on your recycling pile of papers, we may want to keep something like that out.

For the most part, there’s usually little that has to be done to get a cat ready for photos in terms of grooming and appearance. They are fastidious groomers after all, as you probably know. A quick brush to tidy up stray hairs is helpful, and often long-haired cats need some extra brushing so their fur looks as luscious as it should do; I’ve seen quite a few lovely scruffy kitties, but if the hair is a big mess, we probably can’t have that, can we?! Sometimes there’s a kitty who has eye ‘crusties’ and maybe a bit of a snotty nose; while it’s true that I can correct some of these things in post with editing, that can take up precious time so if those things can be cleared away, that’s super helpful.

There are a couple of other things that are helpful to think about before your session. One is activity level. If your cat is wildly active (and we’re not specifically going to be taking a ton of ‘action’ shots), it may be a good idea to get the cat some exercise with toys beforehand; this is great for very young cats and a breed like the active Bengal. I know that cats do spend a ton of time asleep (they’re professionals at sleeping) but we also probably don’t want all the images of them to be with their eyes closed, so completely pooping them out isn’t helpful either. Unlike babies or young kiddos, cats really don’t have set awake/sleep times, so planning a session around a cat nap is just not a factor for scheduling. It’s great to have our little model alert, but not fast asleep. I want to see those pretty eyes!

Fast asleep...

Fast asleep…

A few more things to think about: does your cat have special/medical needs? Are we doing a ‘golden years’ session for a senior or geriatric cat? These images could be to capture a beloved older cat in their last days and it’s important I attend to this in a special way. Are there special toys or blankets that are favorites of the cat that you want in the pictures? I have props, blankets, backdrops, all of that, that I may think will work well for your cat, but it’s helpful to consider what items of yours may work well and will make you happy when you see them in the finished images. Photographing your cat without a collar is usually preferable too; cats are beautiful without any adornments, when they’re ‘au naturel’, but I’m not opposed to doing some shots with a cute kitty necktie or something similar. Some images like that are fun to do, so let me know if you have ideas for novelty shots. Also, if I’m taking those coveted photos of you with your cat, consider earthy, complimentary tones for your clothing, with respect to your cat’s fur colors. But beware the clothing colors and fabrics that will highlight your cat’s fur shedding.

Does your cat like treats? Feather or laser toys? Does catnip work to get him/her rolling around on the floor in an adorable state? Does it take a long time for your cat to get relaxed with new people? All of these things are über helpful to think about and for me to know.

Since I just mentioned something about get the cat relaxed, I don’t have too much of an issue coaxing them into pictures when they are already family members. This is different when it comes to rescue and foster cats, and it can sometimes take quite a while to get the shot that is needed for adoption purposes. I’m usually able to coax even the trickiest kitty into photos but it’s still sometimes a challenge and I’d say that in every case of cat photography (easy and difficult cats both included), my number one need is my having patience. Sometimes it can take quite a while to get those shots that I know you will love (and I know I want to get); it may seem to take some time, while you’re sitting by, but just trust that I know what images I am after and what will work well.

A beautiful pair of cats in a window just chilling out like they usually do! Comfy is key.

A beautiful pair of cats in a window just chilling out like they usually do! Comfy is key.

Sebastian 2So how can you be assured that I know what I’m doing around these often aloof, independent, intelligent animals?! I want you to be comfortable for me to get down on your cat’s level and also be able to leave me to get on with the photography. I’ve been around animals my whole life and am very familiar with cat behavior in particular…cats fascinate me to no end. I’d like to think I’m kind of on their wavelength (it’s not total coincidence that I’m called Mama Kat…) and connect easily with cats. Working as a vet tech, and at the cat rescue, and always having cats as my companions at home, has meant my always trying to understand their behavior and character. I truly love cats and what the rescue photography has taught me in particular, is that they are to respected and to consider their underlying wild nature. There’s a little tiger underneath every cat’s clothing! It’s not enough for me to be able to photograph in all the crazy places and positions I’ve found myself in to that magical shot. It’s also not enough for me to know how to work my camera manually and adjust settings in a pinch when the cat wants to move from room to room and the light totally changes.

At the end of the day, I hope you have the confidence in me to get beautiful images of your cat(s) and I will do whatever I can to do just that! If you can help prepare your cat and your home with some of the tips above, all that can go a long way to making the session go smoothly and I can just focus on creating memories on camera for you. I hope I’ve shared some helpful and interesting information on preparing your cat for picture day. If you have ANY questions about any of it, feel free to ask me. I hope this wasn’t overwhelming…taking your cat’s photos will be fun! I hope to meet you and your cat soon!

xo ~ K

Relaxed, posing with a toy, and on a beautiful colored spread! Copyright K.A.Moore Photography. All Rights Reserved.

Relaxed, posing with a toy, and on a beautiful colored spread!
Copyright K.A.Moore Photography. All Rights Reserved.

Photographing the Golden Years | Seattle Pet Photography

Here is the dapper old pug known as Max that I photographed recently. I am really hoping to have the chance for more opportunities to photograph older animals; ones that are in their ‘golden years’. The soul in those brown eyes, the many folds in his skin, the grey whiskers, it’s all fascinating to look at; such character!
To capture memories of humans’ beloved animal friends is such an honor for me. I have heard from a number of people who said they wish they had done a photo session with their dog or cat before they passed on. Please do let me know if you would like to talk about setting up a ‘Golden Years’ or Borrowed Time session with your animal friend, I’d love to hear from you.
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Copyright K.A.Moore Photography. All Rights Reserved.

 

Photo Session Blog: Abby

Oh, how I miss this age!! Around 9-10 months, little ones really start to blossom and they’re fiercely exploring the world around them, ready to become truly mobile. And exploring the world means putting leaves in your mouth and feeling the cool texture of the dusty rose tutu that you’re newly wearing, all while being a model. And looking mighty cute, I might add…

I took photos of this adorable little chubby bubba way back at the start of the year, when she was just ten days old.

Copyright K.A.Moore Photography

Copyright K.A.Moore Photography

The change that happens within those exciting first months  is huge. They go from being totally helpless to learning to walk and talk within a year. Far behind other animals, particularly other mammals, in terms of development, but still it’s an amazing thing to witness and absorb. Right now I am continually being astounded by my five year old boy, now in kindergarten, as I watch and hear him learn to read. He was such a cute baby but he’s now a beautiful, smart and funny boy. I could never ever have enough photos of him… But my mind just boggles at the changes.

Well, I hope my next session with Abby will be at her one year mark; cake smash, anyone? I’d very much like to give that a go! I feel appreciative of the times I can take photos with others’ babies and children (in between all the cats!) because as a photographer, I get to capture memories of those adorable early days again, but this time, for someone else. No diaper changing involved.

I see all of this photography adventure as an honor: to be let into other people’s lives, into their homes, to see both smiles and tears, to assist animals with getting new homes, and to follow events as they unfold.  Every camera click immortalizes an experience, a fleeting moment, and holds a memory. You have to catch those moments when you can!

Time will never stand still and those moments that bring us such joy become memories in an instant. To capture such a moment and record it forever is truly monumental.” ~ Joshua Atticks

xo ~ K

PS. Come find me on Facebook and over where I now have my Portfolio on Zenfolio…

Images Copyright K.A.Moore Photography

Images Copyright K.A.Moore Photography

Photo Session Blog: Older ‘Children’ & Connections

Some weeks ago, I photographed a session of a mom with her two adult daughters, who are now living away from home and are in cities miles away. This was a new kind of family session for me including ‘children’; many families want professional photos taken when their children are in infancy through preschool, and then at a multitude times for milestones like birthdays, graduations and so forth. They are all life passages we expect to capture on camera, memories  we won’t likely forget, but ones we want to memorialize with photos and artwork in our homes. But then once the ‘kids’ are grown up and move away, we have less and less chances to have family photos done, especially professionally. There may be the wedding or a baby christening, but there are fewer opportunities for photos, for example, portraits of a mom and adult daughter(s).

With this particular session, I had the mom fill out my super fun and informative questionnaire (as I do before all sessions) that Schinski 102Clets me know more about who I’m photographing, and to understand the value of my doing the portraits. In this case, the last time this mama had had formal photos of her daughters was at their high school graduations, and not even at their college graduations. She also described her favorite photos of her children as being ones of them together as kids, their closeness and bond, and wanted to have that reflected in photos of them today.

Another important thing that was mentioned was how important a particular photo of her mother is to her; her mother had passed away last year and so having her photo to ‘say hi’ to when the mood strikes, is invaluable: “For me pictures are a wonderful way to stay connected.” That’s it, precisely there in that statement. Photographs represent connections: connections to the people and things in them, and to the precise moments that they happened. This also resonates with me, since I am a continent and an ocean away from my family in England, and I can’t help but think of all the occasions I have missed by being over here all these years. I want to encapsulate the times that I do get to go back home to the UK, and as I get older, to have photos of myself with my parents. The photos that I send them of their grandchild/my son are a way for them to stay connected to us too.

I would now love to do more family photography sessions of families with adult children; they are no less important to have done than photos taken at a child’s birthday or at the start of kindergarten. What I found refreshing by photographing adults, was that the now ‘older children’ have a more defined sense of self and know how they want to be seen and portrayed. I didn’t even need to bribe them with candy! We shot at Gasworks Park here in Seattle, with the backdrop of Lake Union, with the Space Needle in the distance, and it was a glorious evening. So now that I’ve shared this, would you consider having professional portraits done as an adult with your parents/family? Is this something we overlook in photography, in this baby and toddler-focused view of parenthood?

Here are some photos from that session: lots of color, beautiful smiles, and sun! ‘Til next time…

xo ~ K

PS. Don’t forget to find me over on K.A.Moore Photography on Facebook

Portrait, Mom & Daughters

Mom & Daughters

Sisters Portraits

Portrait, Sisters

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Beautiful Mama!

Beautiful Mama!