Personal Work

The first time I called myself a photographer

Now, that's a hairy question! 

If I'm honest, it's actually hard to remember, as now it so casually falls off the tongue. 

Halfway through second year, our lecturer told us to start referring to ourselves as photographers, rather than 'student photographers'. However, as I was in second year, I was incredibly relunctant to do so. 

I distinctly remember at the end of second year, he addressed as a class and told us that we were photographers now. Third year was about refining our portfolio, but we had the skills to call ourselves photographers now. 

That still wasn't enough for me. 

Third year came, and I was getting a little more confident with it, but still hesitatant. I was scared people would call me out. 

I'm a photographer, I would say. 

You mean a student photographer, I would hear back in my own head. 

It wasn't until I was photographing my first wedding. They addressed me as one of the 'photographers'. "Oh, ask the photographer", "Oh, where is the photographer". They knew my friend and I were still in tech, yet, not once, did they refer to us as student photographers - guests and family only found out when they were making small talk with us. 

After that, my confidence increased significantly. I was no longer hesitant when I called myself a photographer. I corrected others when they referred to themselves as student photographers. 

So what's the lesson here? 

Be confident, own those skills, own your profession and shout it from the rooftops. 

Building a community - My current project.

At the moment I am working on something very special - A community wall for my shared office! 
I've been the lead designer on this project - which means creating and designing the wall, how it looks, how it will be mounted, arranged, etc.

I've also had the priviledge of photographing a number of buisness' for the wall. 

Which also means a bunch of new head-shots to share with you! 

Angus runs Lucidus, a company who create strong customer relationships by connecting through social media.
Beverly runs Dunedin Literary Walking Tours, a company that provides walking tours through the historic University of Otago campus, alongside stories about famous past and present New Zealand Writers. 
Varsha and Hena work for Weta Capital, a company that invests in Real Estate and Start-ups. 

These four boys work for Geia - a company who helps business' make sustainability easy, clear, and profitable. In order from left to right we have Casey, Alax, Michael and Tapabrata. 

This is an ongoing project - so I'll have many to share with you in the coming weeks! I love this wall, and I love the sense of community it is helping to build. 

Kat. 

Why I did Start-up Weekend and why you should too.

I was a little hesitant at first, but I've heard about it for a few years and I was always curious. I thought at best, I might make something cool, make a few new friends and meet inspiring people.

What I got out of it was far more valuable than that.

I was reminded of how much you truly can get done in a short space of time, if you have the motivation. However much time you allow yourself to do something, is usually how long it will take. It truly reminded me how valuable and precious each second really is. 

I didn't just make something cool, I contributed to something truly valuable. I'm not slightly bothered if we never make a dime off it. I contributed to something that made me feel warm from the very depths of my soul, and you can't put a price on that.

I made some very cool contacts and had the privilege of spending my weekend with awesome people. Everyone has their own story, and it's always awesome to hear a new one.

As for meeting inspiring people, I absolutely, without a doubt did.

I am so incredibly proud of how my team did, the work that was put into it, and I'm super proud of the design work I did for our app and our presentation. Our presenters did an incredible job. I couldn't be prouder to be a part of my team.

Whilst our team didn't win the weekend, we did win peoples choice, and we had so much good feedback on our product, presentation and design. So that's a win in my book. Below is the logo for our app.

If you are thinking of participating in Startup Weekend next year, do it. If you are hesitant, do it. If you don't have a business idea, don't see yourself as an entrepreneur, it doesn't matter, still do it!

Finding the love in everyday - Week One

Week One in my March photo challenge has absolutely flown by! I'm loving the challenge of actively going out everyday and photographing something that I love, whether that be one of my pets, a hobby, or a building I find particularly cool. 

Summer in St Bathans

At the end of last year I had the privilege of spending a few days in a tiny town in Central Otago called St Bathans.

If you haven't been here yet you simply must. It's a town full to the brim of rich history. From the beautiful Blue Lake, to the haunted pub. Just like the rest of Central Otago, most of the town is postcard worthy. 

The views kept me more than busy, but I still had an incredibly relaxing holiday. If you are holidaying through Central Otago, I highly recommend stopping here at St Bathans!

I saw an old ruins of a school, some 76 year old graffiti, and a plethora of cool old buildings. 

Shooting for myself and how I keep passion alive.

One thing I cannot stress enough about the creative industry, is the importance of creating for yourself. No matter what part of the creative industry you are in, it's so important to make things for yourself for no other reason than wanting too. 

Don't get me wrong, I love client work. I love creating beautiful works of art I know will be treasured for a lifetime.

But what helps keep my passion alive is shooting for myself and creating art outside of my client work. It inspires me and keeps me going. 

Some of that work is my award work. 

The tree was an illustrative piece about my family tree/history, and earned me a 'Bronze' in the Student Assistant Category in the NZIPP IRIS awards in 2012.. 

The flowers on the right were simply me wanting to create something pretty and different with the brides details, and they earned a 'silver' in the Wedding Creative Category in the NZIPP Iris awards of 2015.

Sometimes I go looking for an image, and upon exploring I am lucky enough to come across some beautiful scenery. By lucky I of course mean travelling through the countryside and 7:00am on a Sunday. The below shot earned me a 'Silver' in the Student/Assistant Category in the NZIPP Iris awards in 2012. 

Other personal work includes when I want to try out a new lighting technique or perfect one I've been thinking about for months, or create some beautiful deep character portraits of friends. 

Lucky for me I had some very willing models and I was able to bring my vision to life.

Actually I was very lucky to go to UCOL.

I was taught right from day one the importance of creating for yourself.

I was shown that it was okay to have multiple interests.

It was okay to squeeze in beautiful landscapes, falling apart buildings and cute cats in with my everyday work. 

Which is really lucky, because sometimes my client work includes pets (Not an unusal request at a wedding)

Some days, my personal work involves me wanting to update the portraits of my pets, and portray just how nuts my cat is. 

Whether you are lucky enough to be able to live your dream everyday like me and be able to create beautiful things for clients, or you work a more regular job, creating things for yourself to keep your passion alive is truly important. Whether thats knitting a cool toy, baking an awesome cake, taking photographs, painting a canvas, or making an app for a game, its going to ignite a fire inside you that nobody can extinguish. 

You can't put a price on that. 

How I started and why I love what I do.

I've been reflecting on my journey recently, and how it came to be that I get to work from home and do exactly what I love. I want to take you back to where this photographic journey all began. 

My older brother was always interested in photography, and bought himself and SLR camera. This was in 1994 so yes, it was film. For all your purists out there, you might be glad to know that I got my start when film was very much a thing! 

He took this amazing close up shot of my kitten chewing on a branch. That photo is one of my most treasured possessions to this day. I was fascinated that the camera could see something that we couldn't see for ourselves. 

I was only five at the time, so understanably, my older brother did not want me touching his brand new expensive camera. 

Fast forward to 2002, when I was thirteen and my thirst for photography renewed. I was finally old enough to touch the prized possession. I knew nothing about depth of field, shutter speed, light metering, etc. But I had two new subjects that seemed pretty willing to be moved from chair to chair while I captured them. So, for your viewing pleasure, one of the first images that I ever took.

20160802_190618-1.jpg

I know, it's a masterpiece! 

When I started Year 12 (Sixth Form), we got to take Photography as part of art. I was so excited. They started to train us to use our cameras. I learnt about the basic technical aspects, developing my own film and developing my own images.  We also learn some cool techniques - such as creating a negative print! I absolutely adore the darkroom, and I really hope my journey takes me back there some day.

Due to a number of reasons, I didn't take it beyond that in school. I still really enjoyed it, but I stuck to doing it in my down time. For my 18th birthday, my mum bought me my own digital camera. I was over the moon. Although it was just a compact, that didn't stop me taking 100s of photographs when I went to Australia. The rule of thirds allows you to take some pretty lovely landscapes, and Australia had plenty to offer! Sometimes, you have to break rules too. 

The above image was one of the images I submitted for my portfolio for entry into UCOL. It's nothing to write home about by any means, but it's in image that brought me pride at one point in my life.  I went to Massey University in 2008, and it wasn't until late 2009 that I happened to be in UCOL and discovered a pamphlet for the Bachelor or Applied Visual Imaging. I fell in love. I wanted to get back into Graphic Design and Photography. Graphic Design was originally what I wanted to do, but I ended up in an English Degree instead. So I decided to dip my toe in the water, and take their photography paper whilst I finished my first degree. 

I was hooked. 

I enrolled full time the following year, and dove head first. Originally my plan was to focus on design and study photography as a minor, but the more I learnt, the more I fell in love with what I could do with my camera. It wasn't until I took this image that I discovered that I really enjoyed making people look and feel good. This was the first image that ever bought me pride as a photographer, rather than just someone with a camera. After that, I was absolutely clear with the direction I wanted to take. I entered my first NZIPP Iris awards, and walked away with a High Pro standard. Someone told me my work was good enough.

Fast forward a few years, and now I'm here. 
Looking back, I wouldn't change a thing. 

My names Kat, and I create memories

These last few years, I've dealt with a fair bit of death, but not in the way you think. I captured some of the last portraits of the living. A last afternoon tea with mum. An unveiling of a man-cave for the bravest kid I've ever met. A renewal of vows to a loving wife. 

These moments have been both some of the hardest and most rewarding moments of not just my photography career, but my life. They have shown me humility, and taught me to be grateful. Grateful of my art, of my skills, and my life. Grateful for the loved ones that I have not lost. Grateful that I could preserve cherished memories for those left behind, and those who didn't get to meet someone who was great. 

After a meeting with colleagues last night, and sharing stories like the ones above, I took some time to reflect how truly grateful I am. I was privileged enough to preserve a memory for someone. They have images of that event to see that it happened, and the person now gone could say "I was here!" 

Having also lost people suddenly, I know not everyone has a chance to cherish their 'last'. Not every family will get that final amazing memory. Which brings me to the point of this post. 

Please, please, exist in images for your family. 

If you died tomorrow, are there pictures of you? Beautiful, professionally taken portraits? Photos with your kids? Photos with your parents, your siblings? 

Unfortunately, I have lost some people that never had a professional photo taken. In fact, they barely exist in photos. The few snapshots they are in are some of the most precious things I have now. 

So take snapshots frequently. Take heaps of photos of your kids. Take a selfie with your sister. Sneak a photo of your spouse, of your mum or dad. 

Because one day, your loved ones will be gone, and you will cherish every photo they were ever in. One day, you will be gone too, and your photos will be all thats left. 

Update that family portrait, and include the whole family. Has it been 20 years since you had photos with your parents? Include them in your next portrait session. Consider a big extended family portrait, and capture each generation. Photograph your dogs and cats. 

But don't just do it because you are someone's mum, dad, cousin, sibling or child. 

Do it because YOU. ARE. SOMEONE. 

Someone that deserves to be remembered. 

Do it so you can say, "I was here". 
 

Relay for Life - A Reflection.

About three months ago I was involved in a wonderful event called the relay for life. It is an event where people donate their time and money, and walk or run circuits of a track to raise money for the Cancer Society. Thousands of selfless souls around the country donate their time and energy to this wonderful cause. I was lucky to have the opportunity to donate my time and capture part of this event. The images have been on my facebook page for a while, and you can find the full album here - www.facebook.com/kathillphotography. Here is a small part of what I captured!