The Responsibility of Photographers

PHOTOGRAPHERS::: We hold a lot of power in our camera-wielding hands and as such, we need to constantly remind ourselves of how that power can affect the humans in front of our lenses.

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I know that while I’m capable of transforming women’s opinions of themselves into one of confidence and worthiness, it’s so important to also recognize that by delivering a subpar experience or by the simple act of NOT LISTENING to our clients, we can cause damage that is hard to undo. 


Oftentimes, women come to see me very hesitantly after having a negatively impressionable experience with a past photo shoot. Because of that, it becomes much harder to earn their trust, much harder to get them feeling comfortable, and they are much more resistant to being showered with the support and encouragement they deserve. The negative impact of that one shoot, that one off-putting comment from a photographer, that one wildly unflattering photo that she was shown just because the photographer was more concerned about the good lighting of the image than the client’s feelings. 


As Uncle Ben said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” and that not only rings true, but needs to be a recurring self reminder as we are given the opportunity to show people how incredible they are through our craft. We should always be evolving both our technical capabilities AND our emotional intelligence...because this is important work that can change lives. 🖤

The deeper meaning behind a photo shoot | Client Experience


My own narrative has evolved quite a bit since starting this line of work over a decade ago. The further I got down into the rabbit hole that is women’s empowerment photography, the more I recognized the importance of celebrating yourself, as a woman, through a proper photo shoot experience. It has changed the way I run my business, it has changed the way I talk about my work, it has changed the way I talk to my clients.  NOW, I can’t even fathom doing this for any other purpose than to celebrate yourself and to love yourself and to feel liberated and strong and powerful.

In this client’s case, what originally was meant to be a wedding present became not only a gift for herself, but documented herself at a pivotal point in her life as she received a medical diagnoses days after her photo reveal that flipped her world upside down.  Read her experience below. 

“I have followed Kara on Instagram for years, and always thought "I'm going to do that one day," but every time her sign-up opened, I chickened out. I wasn't in the shape I wanted to be in, felt too uncomfortable in front of the camera, didn't have the right reason for a boudoir shoot, felt like I could use the money on something else. There was always a reason to tell myself no.

“And then one day, I finally said yes. And it was one of the best decisions I've made in a long time.” 

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“I initially told myself that my session with Kara would be a great wedding gift for my fiancee – something he would never expect to receive from his overly body conscious girlfriend. But as I got closer to shoot day, I realized that it was as much for me as it was for my fiancee.

I've never quite been comfortable with my body – and even with a year to prepare, I still wasn't in what I considered to be "boudoir-ready shape" by the time of my shoot – but after years looking at the beautiful images Kara created, I figured that even just one good image would make the shoot worthwhile. My experience with Kara was so much more than I could have ever imagined. Kara was a total joy to work with. She completely changed the way I felt about my body, and brought out a confidence that I always lacked. I thought that taking pictures in lingerie (and less!) with a relative stranger would make me freeze up, but Kara's friendly demeanor put me at ease from the moment I walked in, and I felt like we were old friends despite only meeting her that morning.”


“Even just taking the photos before I even saw them...I left feeling powerful. I finally saw myself as the sexy, confident woman that my fiancee always saw. Seeing the final images just amplified those feelings. I honestly felt like I could conquer anything, which couldn't have come at a better time for me personally.”

“ The week after my photo reveal, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My entire world flipped upside down. I went from being embarrassed by my body to gaining an unknown confidence in it to wishing that I spent a little more timing loving it. ”

“ Kara did something for me that I wasn't able to do for myself, and now, as I'm about to embark on a very difficult life experience, I'm so grateful that I have these beautiful images to look back on – and to serve as a reminder of the hidden self she helped bring out in me: a confident, self-loving bad-ass boss babe. Working with Kara is a definite investment, but one that I would make a million times over, and I look forward to booking many more experiences with her in the future.”

 

She. Is. Incredible. I honestly couldn’t even begin to count the number of clients I’ve worked with that were affected by breast cancer, and how inspiring they each are to me....and how grateful I am on their behalf, to have documented this exact place in life they’re in.  In the way that my self portrait project serves as my own personal visual diary of my current stage of life, these images will forever be there to serve the woman in them and remind them of that stage in their life. 

THANK YOU, G, so much, for sharing with me and with the KMS family. I have every faith that you will kick this cancer’s ass in all the ways, and I will be seeing you again for your celebratory “I KICKED CANCER’S ASS!!!” Photo shoot that I’ve done for so, so, so many other insanely courageous women. YOU ARE AMAZING. 

xx

When Photographers Book Photographers | Teri’s Shoot Experience

It’s an honor everytime anyone entrusts me with their photo shoot experience, but when that someone happens to be a photographer as well, it’s an extra honor. Not only are we, as photographers, inundated with examples of beautiful photography on a daily basis (so we often have much higher standards than the typical non-photographer consumer), but we also know a plethora of other camera-wielders and tend to settles for a couple of nice “play shots” from friends here and there.

What is more rare, though, is the photographer who takes care of themselves, understands the value of a powerful photography experience and the accompanying photos, and then actually financially commits to an actual session...not a play or trade session...with a photographer whose work they identify with.

THIS badass Canadian ‘tog is one of the rare ones (in more ways than one). When Teri booked a shoot with me, I won’t lie, I was: #1: Bursting at the seams to finally meet her as we’ve been “social media” friends for a minute but our paths hadn’t crossed in “real life” yet...and #2: Bursting at the seams with butterflies as she’s talented AF, and you know....pressure and shit ;)

She is better with words than I am, so I’m going to let her take it from here:::

 

“ As a boudoir photographer and educator, I definitely know the impact that doing a photo session can have on one's self esteem and confidence. So, when I thought about who I would contact for my annual session, I reached out to Kara to see if she'd be able to squeeze me in during my travels to Texas! AND SHE DID! So, then there was no backing out because fate was on my side!

Interestingly enough, as someone who enjoys luxuries to herself, I'm not gonna lie, the thought of spending over $3000 on photos made me hesitate and then I thought "HOLY SHIT. THIS IS WHAT MY CLIENTS GO THROUGH" which made me take the plunge even more. I became curious over that hesitation and I realized it wasn't the COST I was concerned with (because Kara's value is 20X that)....it was the VALUE that I saw in myself, and did I think *I*was WORTH spending that much money to have photos taken. WHAT AN EYE OPENING EXPERIENCE AS SOMEONE THAT DOES THIS FOR A LIVING!!”

“I knew I couldn't just go to anyone for a boudoir session for a few reasons. Personally, I have had the "traditional" boudoir experience and it just wasn't me...I mean, it was FUN and the photos were gorgeous, but not really reflective of the ME I know. As an avid follower of Kara's I was drawn to her editorial style and ability to take women in their "undone-done" look and capture their essence (that sounds so Hallmark, but you know what I mean).

As a woman who tends to defy most societal standards when it comes to body image (no makeup, never "DO" my hair, forget to get eyebrows and other bits waxed, and hate wearing a bra...and pants.), I knew this was the type of session I needed to show myself that the ME I know is just as worthy of having photos taken. I didn't want glam makeup, I didn't want to wear traditional lingerie, and mostly, I didn't want to appear overly sensual and sexual and really just exist in my power.

My favorite images are the ones where I have a derpy face, you can see my crooked teeth, I'm laughing, and of course, my mass of unruly curls. “

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 “These photos are 100% representative of me.”

 

Note from Kara: The below screenshot was Teri’s response to seeing her images and I will save it in her file forever.  

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”As for the EXPERIENCE itself, Kara is the tits. But if you are on her site, you already know this. She's super chill, laid-back, professional, and on top of all the details. Her overall goal is to make sure you feel fucking amazing and leave with that feeling. Every time I look at my images, I feel amazing and I SEE me.”

 

Ahhhh. Doesn’t she just sound like the kind of woman you want to know? Because she is.  And I’m lucky to know her and honored to have been the photographer to capture her as I saw her...and as SHE sees herself. That is so important to me—to make sure that women feel like themselves WITHOUT a complete glamour makeover and elaborate wardrobe that they are uncomfortable in. 

 

Thank you, Teri, for your trust and your incredible testimony! What a great reminder that even photographers struggle with investing in ourselves through photography! So glad you did with me. 

If you’re located in our friendly neighboring country, Canada—or even if you aren’t, you should most definitely check out Teri’s website HERE.  

 

Xx

2018 Year in Review | Kara Marie Studios

HOLY MOLY. What an absolutely incredible year. I am so incredibly grateful for all 327 women who graced my camera in 2018. Putting together this video gave me such joy…reminiscing about the new faces I met and the ones who came back for more. You all inspire me every day and are an essential part to this being the actual best job ever. Thank you SO much.

Music by Gerson Lopes.

Another Studio, Another Brand, Another Journey | Kara Marie Portraits

Y'all.  I have stalled and stalled on making this announcement. It's been "official" for nearly 4 months but I was nervous. Like, startling myself awake in the middle of the night, nauseating butterflies in my stomach, second/third/fourth guessing myself kind of nervous. It's a new Year and it's now or never. 

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10 years ago, I was setting up backdrops  (shower curtains) and lighting (spot lights from Home Depot) in my tiny little kitchen in my tiny little apartment in Erie, Pennsylvania and actually getting paid to do it. While my skill-set had not been developed at ALL at this point, I was still offering my clients the same level of customer service that I do now.  The studio portrait thing became tedious, inconvenient, and my kitchen couldn't take it anymore ;) 

Now, having an established and bustling boudoir studio in Austin, I found myself feeling like I was trapped in my tiny little Erie, PA kitchen studio again anytime I wanted to shoot portraits. The backdrops are no joke to set up and tear down, and studio lighting?! I didn't even have enough storage space in my studio closet to tuck it away when I wasn't using it. I sold off all of my studio equipment years ago, after allowing it to collect dust and sit as stagnant as my *insert any piece of workout equipment here* currently is.

I've been incorporating beauty + boudoir portraits into just about every session for as long as I've been shooting. For the last year, I've been studying extra hard, test shooting my heart out, re-stocking my space with studio lighting and portrait set-ups that I used to use but eventually got rid of to save space, and I've been all secretive and shit in the process, just in case I chickened out (again). 

At the beginning of September, I attended a photography conference in Palm Springs called the Portrait Masters. It was there that I had the fire lit under my rump yet again to take another risk. When I bought that ticket about a year ago I knew it was going to be the final shove into fulfilling this goal. You see, it's been a while since I've taken a big business risk. Opening the KMB studio was a huge step for me that proved to be the smartest thing I could have done for my business...and I've just been riding the wave ever since. Comfortably booked months in advance, hitting all my business goals, and consistently getting new clients referred by different sources. Yet I knew that I wasn't fulfilling my potential. 

On the flight home from the conference, I was scribbling out my 6 month action plan and ended my brainstorming session finally recognizing that I just didn't have enough space to do what I had in mind.  I love my pretty little studio SO much...I love the light, I love the location, I love the floors (ohhhhh the floors)...but my portrait set-ups were in the way, there wasn't enough storage (or time) to break it all down and tuck it away when it wasn't being used, and as my team is inevitably going to be growing...there just wasn't enough room for multiple desks and office space without getting in the way of my shoot space.  

On that flight I was determined to get back to Austin and find myself a giant space that I loved just as much that I could do modern editorial portraits in, as well as the boudoir style yet to be categorized (really....I don't ever know how to describe my style), as well as house my team without having to share a tiny desk. I arrived home excited about the growth about to happen, but still pretty concerned about finding exactly what I needed. I'd been keeping my eyes peeled in Austin for over a year...nothing was perfect. And y'all know I'm picky AF. Hence the 3 year delay on making this move. Yeah...it's been in my goal book fo.that.long. 

The next morning I pulled into my lovely little loft parking lot to see that my neighboring unit was loading up a U-HAUL, packing up, and moving out! I didn't even make it out of my car before calling the owners and getting my foot in that pretty little door. 

GETTING TO THE POINT...

|| AS OF 2018, THE KARA MARIE PORTRAIT STUDIO IS NOW OPEN FOR BUSINESS  ||

New studio, new brand, completely different concept from what I'm offering in the boudoir world. Conveniently located one-door-down, it will allow me the flexibility of squeezing in short portrait sessions in between my boudoir clients.  I will be leaving the portrait studio intentionally bare bones to allow for flexibility in sets. It houses my backdrops, my lighting, set ups, a work station, gorgeous light and svelte floors without distraction.

This second studio will also allow me to accommodate some of the requests that I get from other photographers to rent shoot space (that's good news for all of you who email me desperate to rent my space for a last-minute session only to get a firm "no" from me!). 

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SOOOO WHAT ARE THESE PORTRAITS GOING TO BE LIKE?

If you've been following for a while, you're familiar with my boudoir shoot style, and you've probably even seen a boudoir portrait or two within my blog posts and Instagram feeds.  I will be continuing on with this type of modern portraiture with a slightly more polished finish, but also including....GASP....CLOTHING!  And even....GASP....MEN! I know, I know...crazy, right!? 

I'm a long time follower and "student" of Annie Leibovitz, Irving Penn, Patrick Demarchelier, and other phenomenal fashion portrait photographers.  Their work, to me, is something that I would want to be remembered for long after I'm gone. I want to create images like these for legendary souls to be remembered by. 

Boudoir isn't going anywhere...so, you're stuck with me on that front ;) But now, I will have the space and flexibility necessary to create individual portraits of amazing people without cramping my boudoir style. 

What started as a portrait project has developed into something so much bigger! I would love to have you follow along on this journey, if you'll have me!  There is now a separate website for all of my portrait work HERE, and you can find Kara Marie Portraits on Instagram at @KaraMariePortraits

THANK YOU to the 40 or so legendary souls who have already stepped in front of my lens since setting up the studio to help me launch this second brand. I'm so very excited to continue sharing loads of boudoir + portrait work, and to become a good resource for those photographers in Austin who don't have the luxury of an indoor shoot space. 

H A P P Y   N E W    Y E A R !