Meet this week’s FEATURED PHOTOG …
Photography By Kelly Klatt
Tell us a little about yourself in just two sentences and include a picture of yourself.
I am married to my high school sweetheart, we have 3 kids, two of which I know for sure are mine….the youngest I question daily. We live in Minnesota, which makes being a portrait photographer interesting during the winter! I love: the computer, going up north on the weekends, coffee every morning, reading romance novels on my kindle (so people can’t see the cover), making up excuses to avoid exercise, and watching crime drama’s with my hubby.
What do you shoot with and what is your favorite lens and why?
I have a Nikon D700 with a 24-70mm 2.8, a 50mm 1.4, a 60mm 2.8 and an 85 1.4. I use my 50 about 80% of the time…it’s just the right focal length for newborns, capturing kids, and getting both closeups and full lengths of high school seniors. I have a hard time with my 85 1.4….I am always way to close to my subjects for it to work…apparently, I have boundary issues.
When did you start shooting for fun and then move to shooting professionally?
I actually did things a bit backwards. I started professionally (at a proex portrait studio) before I had kids…worked at different studios for over 9 yrs, then decided to venture out on my own. THAT’S when things got fun! Learning to use natural light instead of the basic studio lights I was used to…being able to not only see the images after I took them (instead of handing my memory card over to the lab), but edit them how I wanted….that’s when photography became more than a job!
Are you formally taught or self taught?
Errrr…does a 2 day course at Proex Portrait Academy count as formal education? If so, than YES, I’m as formal as a prom dress. I worked for about 9 yrs at portrait studios that catered to the traditional, low cost portrait. I’m ashamed to admit to the prop junkie fans that there were years and years where I relied HEAVILY on the use of white wicker props. White wicker chairs, white wicker baskets, white wicker tables….and let’s not forget the 6 foot tall white plastic pillar (always a classic). Joking aside, working in that industry was an amazing education on how to connect with kids quickly. When you’re shooting 13 sessions in a day, you don’t have time to sit and play freakin ‘catch’ with a 2 yr old for 20 minutes to ‘warm him up’. You just get the job done~whambamthankyoumam.
What is your specialty and how did you decide to specialize in that area of photography?
Specialty…I can’t decide. I’ve weeded out weddings and extended families. A lot of my business is newborns (which I love), but I hope to grow my high school senior business a lot more this year. I do enjoy family sessions too, as moms, we are so often left out of pictures (or if you’re like me, avoid being in front of the camera at all costs), so I love making moms look amazing.
How many sessions are you shooting a month?
About 15 or so a month. More in the summer months, less in the winter.
On average how long to do you spend editing each session and do you listen to music while editing or just enjoy the quiet?
Hmmmm, if we don’t count the minutes that I ‘reward’ myself on FB & pinterest, I can edit a session in 4 hours or less (including upload raw/lightroom adjustments/culling/full edit of 30 images in photoshop/uploading to a gallery). Families might take me a bit longer.
What is your favorite part of the process? Shooting, editing, etc.
I prefer shooting…then I love to edit my favorite 5 images. After that, I lose interest and want to dive into the next session! Of course, prop shopping is probably the biggest perk to this job!
What is the best marketing tool that works for you or was a total waste of time? Do you advertise in print? Do you offer referral bonuses? If yes, please share a little.
I’ve tried a few printed postcards in the past, as well as facebook ads…it never worked for me. I rely heavily on client referrals & facebook tagging. I used to have an ‘official’ referral program, but quite honestly, it got really confusing after awhile (ie: Some moms would say, “oh I’m friends with 3 of your past clients and I saw your pictures on facebook.” Soooo, what was I to do, credit all of their facebook friends?) I gave it up.
What do you do to “stand out” from surrounding photographers that you’re competing with?
I live in a small-ish town….and I think a lot of the local photographers aren’t utilizing their blog/facebook as well as I do…so people who live out here see me as different. However, most of my clients drive to me from the Minneapolis area (which is about 45 miles NW of my studio), so maybe I should take another look at what I’m doing wrong locally~haha! I should also add that Minnesota and the twin cities area in particular have a very large, active community of photographers. I hear stories about how photogs in other states are very private and territorial, and I feel very blessed to call many Minnesota photographers friends (& try not to dwell on the competition aspect). It’s gettin sappy up in here.
What do you do to help a client come out of their “shell” during a session?
Depends on the age….with little kids, I use tried and true methods (tickle feather, farting noises & singing songs), with big kids/adults….I try and keep up a steady stream of conversation (sometimes it’s one-sided…that’s okay, I like hearing the sound of my own voice)….I’m also sure to tell clients ahead of time what the ‘game plan’ is… I’m constantly giving directions to my clients so they’re not thinking: ‘What about my hand? Where should my hands go? Do they go in my pocket? Should I hold them at my sides? Help, I feel awkward!!’
What do you struggle with the most?
Procrastination. Quickbooks. Ordering Appointments. Staying focused on a task (ooh, something shiny)!
How did you find your style? Any advice to new photographers on how to find their own style?
As I said earlier, I worked at Proex and other portrait studios, so I had no style. 3 years ago when I decided to start my own business, I bought a D300 and 24-70mm lens (I had read online that it was the most ‘flexible), and started scouring websites and blogs for inspiration. I found many photographers who had bright, modern looking images, and I was determined to capture a similar style. About 2 years ago, I somehow deleted every blog I had subscribed to (there were over 500), and I was so upset. All that inspiration I was looking at every day was gone It’s probably the best thing that ever happened though, I stopped trying to look like everyone else, and started doing my own thing. Somewhere along the way, I think I found my own ‘fresh and fun’ look.
Please share your favorite image and tell us what makes this your favorite?
I took this shot of my kiddos about 4 years ago. This was honestly my first attempt at using window light (minus my trusty pop-up flash, which I had always used in the past)…I used a canon rebel and the kit lens, and I still love this shot!
Can you show us your shooting space? If you are shooting inside can you show a simple pull back shot or lots of images if you have a large studio. If you shoot on location please share an image of you favorite location.
After 2 years of kicking my kids and husband out of the house every time I had a session (not to mention moving the dining room table/furniture out of the room and dragging in backdrops and props), my husband gave me the green light to build a studio on our property. We quickly discovered that we were not zoned to have a separate commercial space, so we decided to renovate our 3 car garage into a natural light studio (for those worrying about my husband and his garage, no worries, he got a new pole shed about 20 feet off the house). It was probably the least expensive option, since we didn’t have to build another bathroom (and dig another well), so clients have access into the first 2 rooms of our house, the mud room and the bathroom. The rest of the house is closed off, so the kids and the mess can stay put!
Is there anything you would like to promote? Maybe a mentoring you offer or any side projects?
I got nothin.
Please share an image of your Prop stash! This doesn’t have to be an organized space just an image showing off your addiction.
I love going to antique stores and second hand shops…even though my style isn’t necessarily ‘vintage’, I still find props that I can use.
What is the best piece of advice you would give to a new photographer?
Don’t waste your time on the drama. If you haven’t already discovered, there is a huge underworld of so called ‘photographers’ (because honestly, how do they have time to do sessions with all the backstabbing and gossiping going on?) who sit online and ridicule their peers. I admit, I’ve been sucked into long threads on forums about newbie photogs who put tiny babies into glass bowls, etc….but it’s not going to do me or my business any good to read 649 comments from others who wax poetically about the stupid photographer, the naive parents, and the poor unsuspecting newborn. Now who’s being dramatic? This kid.
More of Kelly’s stunning images: