A Conversation with Kaylynn Marie Photography
This girl will blow you away…not to mention you will swoon over her images…don’t get lost in this post!
1- Kaylynn tell us a little bit about your photography journey that has led to where you are today!
Reader’s Digest version? My parents gifted me a camera in early high school and I ate, slept, and breathed photography from then on. Those first few years, I had a constant fire inside me to learn all the things. I memorized every camera manual and spent hours parked in front of the photography section at Barnes and Noble. As I developed into the person I am currently, my photographic tastes came right along with me. I’m currently in my late 20’s, documenting intimate pieces of other people’s lives for a living and I love it.
2-Where do you find inspiration to keep your work fresh and creative?
You know, I’ve really found my happy place in carving out a lifestyle of quite and reflection. Yea, a few fashion magazines find their way into my post office box from time to time. I enjoy a well-done movie. I spend a good bit of time with people who are different than me, as well as with people who inspire me. Reflecting on all of these experience, visual and experiential, and weighing them against what I know to be true of myself and my desires for my work, that’s my happy place. Outside of that, my problem-solver mentality hits up visual inspiration on an as-needed basis. I usually keep a big, unopened stack of those stray magazines, going through the whole stack in a night, tearing out the things I like, and making lists of things I want to try to improve on in general.
3- Are you currently working on any personal photography projects?
Actually, yea! I went a stint of two entire years where I didn’t lift one trigger finger for a personal project. Last fall my buddy Lee Lopez and I wanted to shoot something fun together, so we called up my dear friend Clara and had a great time. I can’t remember the last time I was so purely happy. After that, I photographed about 6 personal ‘projects’ of people whom I like and admire. I learned so much through those experiences and plan to continue photographing people who inspire me, just for fun.
4- What gear do you shoot with? What is your favorite all around go-to lens?
Give me a piece of equipment that lets me capture capture the things I see in my head and I am happy.
For lenses, I am all over the place. I love the quality and mm range of the 85mm 1.2, but I shoot with the cheaper 50mm 1.4 a lot because being physically be closer means I don’t have to raise my voice when communicating. If I’m yelling directions from 200mm away, there’s no way my clients feel like, “yea this is normal, I feel great”. I should probably have bought the 50mm 1.2 instead of the 85. But that’s just me. I currently want a motorcycle more than a nicer 50mm so, you know, priorities.
I’ve also been on a ‘context’ kick, consciously using more setting/location in my compositions, and have been pulling out the 35mm prime more than usual.
Another buddy of mine, Brandon, shoots almost everything with his 24-70. Nikon, mind you. Anyway, he gets the most incredible storytelling images with it. So while I am still not super fond of the quality of the old Canon 24-70’s, or the 24mm look in general, I’ve been playing with that one more lately for weddings. I can’t deny that I catch SO many more spontaneous moments when I’ve got it on. The sharpness and depth of field isn’t the prettiest, but if I try to stick with the crispest glass then I end up missing a lot of stories.
5- Can you share what your passion is in the realm of photography?
Passion, in my world, looks more like small moments of happiness. Human connection, in general, is what does it for me. I love making my clients happy. I love that what makes ME happy- beautiful, moving images- also makes my client happy, and ideally, gives them a greater and continuing joy than I could ever experience through their photos myself.
6- If you could travel anywhere in the world where would it be?
If I am with people that I love, I’m a happy little camper anywhere you put me. My sister and I are currently planning to take a motorcycle trip up the east coast next year. I love my sister, so the east coast sounds like a great place to be if she’s there too. The WPPI conference is in Vegas this year, and I’ve made plans with two close friends to attend. I don’t even like Vegas, but I like it well enough when they are there!
7- Can you share a few tips on how to create a portrait with raw emotion?
Yea. Create a safe place. YOU have to be that safe place. We also have to let go of all the control we photographers love, encouraging our people to relax. My personal weakness is over-posing. I have to constantly remind myself to back off. Last week I photographed this really cool dance company and I kept having to laugh at myself and get my subjects to “shake it off” because I would start tweaking too much and they’d get uncomfortable. Man, this could be a three-hour dinner conversation because I’m still figuring it out and am really excited about what I’m learning.
8- What is your trick to getting beautiful portrait shots with the “serious” face as everyone calls it? I love this emotion, yet feel like sometimes it can look like clients are mad…but you pull it off way in amazing ways with your beautiful clients!!!
First, thanks 🙂 Lately I’ve been thinking how it takes a lot of empathy to connect with this level of vulnerability. Everybody has a ‘face’ they put on for others. It’s why selfies all look the same and why the thought of someone sharing our ‘in the car, asleep, drooling’ moment is horrific. I’m somewhat of a private person myself, and there are things I tuck away from the world. Those things are mine. It’s entirely possible, that if I let my guard down enough to make a truly ‘serious’ face, it may result in an expression that tells a story I wasn’t ready to share with everyone. Scared. Vulnerable. Caring. Kind. Who knows. When I ask, say, a bride to really trust me enough to let down that guard of her own, I realize that I may be walking into a place where no one has gone but the man she’s about to marry. I think realizing that is key to being, eh, responsible with what happens next.
Practically speaking though, I think there is real, aesthetic beauty in everyone. Someones face may look ‘mad’ at first, but I don’t think that’s the end of the story. Sue Bryce, I think it was, has some excellent points on working with clients to get a ‘real’ expression. Maybe 2% of my clients have an automatically great ‘serious’ face. For the other 98% I encourage them to take a deep breath and slooooow down. I need them to know (also by my non-verbal cues) that I have all day to spend with them and nobody is in a hurry. So we can sit there a while and play with it. I often ask people to close their eyes, as that eliminates a lot of awkward feelings and encourages introspection and peace. I ask them to relax every muscle in their face, then slowly smile, and when they are ready, connect their eyes to my lens. Sometimes I ask them to think about raising their lower eyelid into a slight squint. Sometimes I ask them to really stop and think of the face they have for only their significant other. That’s usually a ‘whoa’ moment right there, because everyone whose ever been loved can connect with that. It’s also pretty intimate, so I only go there when I can tell the person is really comfortable already and won’t feel intruded upon.
9- What would be your best advice for an up and coming photographer that is wanting to advance in their skills?
Totally Grandmother Willow-ing this. Listen to your heart. I think God has put gifts and desires in every person on the planet, and is so pleased when his people excel at those things. Listen to your feelings, reflect on what you love, and pursue that. Keep trying new things until something clicks with you. A skill? To me a skill is simply the step that comes between the raw materials and the final product. Have you seen a final product you want? Have you seen a Mona Lisa that lit a fire inside of you but the best you can currently produce is fit for the cover of a children’s book at best? Good! Let that fire drive you. Spend all the time you can surrounded by the things you want- study them, obsess over them unapologetically, note what you can do differently on your very next shoot, and do it! Spread those magazine tears all over your living room floor and go for it. One baby step at a time 🙂
10- Lastly, Would you share one strength and one weakness you feel you have in the area of photography.
Weakness is totally an easy answer. Communication & social anxiety. Hands down. On a note more directly related to photography the craft, my weakness is safety. It’s so easy for me to fall into the ‘safe’ shots and not push myself to create better work. My client is happy, but for ME to be happy, I have to constantly improve.
Strength? Same answer as above. The things I’ve tried the hardest to overcome- communication struggles and the laziness of falling into ‘safe shot’ mode, end up being my strengths because I continually have to work so hard to overcome those hurdles.
On that note, I think, especially for creatives, it’s too easy to focus on what we can’t do. Which ties into comparison, another harmful thing we tend to excel in.
You know I’ve never met a fully normal person. Everyone struggles. But nobody blogs about that.The successful people I’ve met seem to focus on what they CAN do and run hard for it. So, you know, do that, and enjoy the game:)