We just love this woman. She cares so much for her people, clients or otherwise, and does her absolute best to support them and make their days better! The opening sentance to her feature, just makes me smile. It is 100% the truth! Our first conversations were about everything from her vegan lifestyle to my dairy farm background, from our love of makeup to trying to balance this crazy mess of life. Kami is your long lost best friend, and you will love her too, just wait and see.
Full disclosure, I'm definitely a deep feeler and over sharer. So I'm just going to lay it all out here.
I am a full-time portrait+storytelling photographer - doing mostly weddings, engagements and boudoir. Recently I started doing maternity, newborn and family portraits because I've loved continuing the relationship with my couples after the wedding as their families grow.
I started my career in the wedding industry as a makeup artist, and it happened kinda on accident. It was always my mom's dream to be a makeup artist (as a pageant queen, cheerleader, SeaGal, dancer, aka a very glamorous lady).
In one of her years off treatment, she went to Los Angeles and became a licensed makeup artist. I was in 5th grade and I went down with her; I sat on the floor and watched the classes all day. After that I dreamed of being a makeup artist. I was so inspired by the way my mom seized an opportunity in between rounds of treatment to reach a goal of hers, even if she wouldn't be able to be a working makeup artist for long (she was for sure a #bosslady).
In the last year of my mom's life, I started assisting/apprenticing one of her good friends who was an on-site makeup artist. I wasn't sure if she actually wanted an assistant or was just giving me a fun distraction during a personally difficult time, but either way it led me down a really interesting path. For all of my high school years, I carried and cleaned her stuff and went to almost all her weddings with her. I watched her and learned everything she did. When I was a senior in high school, she helped me make my makeup portfolio as my senior project. When I turned 18, I became a legal business and started doing makeup at weddings on my own under that gal's company. I thought I was going to do that forever! Full disclosure, this wasn't the first business I started - when I was 13 I started giving my friends drum lessons out of the spare room in my house. I had 4 students and I couldn't believe I got paid to play drums with my friends! That was my first entrepreneurial venture. I think I was destined to own my own business.
Then I followed a boy up to Western Washington University and found myself in the Visual Journalism program. I focused on storytelling, photojournalism and multimedia production. I was still doing makeup at weddings on the weekend, which was SUCH a fun college side-hustle. I started focusing more on photography when I started dating a professional musician (lol) and wanted to impress him (I ended up marrying him so it's okay)... so I started doing music photography and journalism for a Seattle music blog. That was my introduction to photography. For so many years, I was like "omg! I love weddings and working with couples, but I love this storytelling journalism thing I'm doing. Whatever will I do?!"
Then my experience in the wedding industry and my love for storytelling all came together when someone asked me to shoot their wedding. Wedding photography wasn't on my radar AT ALL in any way and I would have never considered pursuing it. But I said yes to shooting that wedding, shot it, and it went great! I was SO nervous and in-over-my-head, but all my years doing makeup at weddings made me feel comfortable stepping into the wedding setting in a new role. I had never second-shot or assisted for another photographer at that point, so I really had no idea what I was doing. I just followed my intuition and did what felt right in the moment - I created my own way of doing things as I'm working with a couple and shooting their wedding. I think that served me really well. I started getting wedding inquiries after that wedding so I was like.... "maybe I should try to be a wedding photographer?!" Four years later and now I am doing wedding photography full-time. Life is crazy y'all!
When I started doing wedding photography and working with couples, all my skill sets and personality traits ended up making sense. I had SUCH a hard time in journalism because I ended up becoming best friends with everyone I interviewed (apparently that's frowned upon! who knew) and it was so difficult for me to separate myself from my subjects and the stories I was covering. I love people so much and feel things so deeply - how could I possibly walk into these people's lives just to ask them questions and that's it?! With wedding photography, I could tell stories, but my couples WANT me to be a part of their lives and they want to become my friend. I actually struggle with boundaries after the wedding because I'm like "waiiiiit I miss you guys!" Either way, I love that my couples want me a part of their lives and I thrive on deep, real, relationships.
How do you balance being a #bosslady with having a family/life?
This is something I am constantly figuring out and making adjustments with. I graduated college, moved in with my boyfriend (now my husband), started my business, and got engaged all in the same year... so it's been a constant journey learning how to be a good life partner and also a good business owner. Learning how to be present to my husband AND my couples.
Some weeks I SLAY work/life balance and feel like I'm doing a great job, other weeks I fail epically. A really important change my husband and I made was taking Mondays off together. After shooting all weekend, Mondays are the perfect day for me to take off before I dive into my editing week. My husband is a drum teacher/professional musician and is able to make his own schedule - it took us YEARS for us to figure out that he should move his Monday students to the weekend. Now we have Mondays off together to do whatever, which usually consists of sleeping in, working out, Netflix binges, grocery shopping and meal prepping.
Something that is ESSENTIAL to my work/life balance and well-being is keeping up with a healthy routine. Feeling fit and healthy is huge for my anxiety management and keeping me sane!!! Being prepared with healthy food throughout busy weeks is also essential. Even when I'm feeling crazy behind on work, I always make time to work out 4-5 days a week (I'm addicted to cycling!) and I'm making sure I'm eating+prepping healthy plant based food that gives me energy and makes my body feel good. When I don't feel good physically or feel like I'm not taking care of myself, all the other parts of my life fall apart a bit. I'm the best business owner and the best to my couples when I have taken care of myself first.
What is a hardship or challenge you have had to overcome and how did you handle that?
The hardest challenge I've ever faced with being a wedding photographer is work/life balance and keeping things in perspective. It is SO easy to be consumed and obsessed with this career path - something all creatives struggle with I think. When you love what you do so much and love your couples to pieces, it's really hard to create boundaries and maintain a healthy life outside of wedding photography. The most important thing I've done to handle this is to keep interests outside of photography alive and keep the other parts of my life thriving. My marriage is really important to me, my friends and family are really important to me and my health/fitness/wellness is really important to me. Maintaining those parts of my life keeps my work/life balance in check and in return makes me love my work more. Most importantly, remembering that I have an identity outside my business and wedding photography and nurturing all those parts of me!
Also with Instagram culture/social media, the rabbit hole of comparison is a huge problem. I'm not going to elaborate on this too much because there are so many articles written about this and it's such a huge topic of conversation right now. But it's so easy to feel bad about your own work when comparing yourself to others, and Instagram and social media makes that even more difficult. Keeping myself off social media during my work day (except for when I'm posting) and unfollowing people who don't inspire me and make me feel bad about myself or my own work has been essential. I try really hard to balance using social media as a tool but also not being obsessed with it. Social media is not real life! I'm getting fully booked for the year and make my couples happy... what else can I ask for?
What is one moment you were really proud of in this #bosslady journey?
The moment I realized I could pay rent and buy groceries doing the thing I loved so much. That's probably the most cliche thing I could ever say, but it still blows my mind that I get to photograph people for a living and can totally support myself and my family. THAT'S SO RAD!! How is that real life?! Damn. That's something to be proud of. It was terrifying but a very cool moment when I realized I didn't need another job anymore (actually didn't have time for that other job!).
If you could give someone starting their own business any advice what would it be?
To just HAVE FUN and not worry about making it a full-time business right away. I talk to so many people (photographers especially) who are frustrated that they aren't getting any work but want to be shooting. And always the first thing I say is "how do you expect to get any work if you don't have work to show off?" Don't wait for clients to start creating!!!! I'm going to say that again...
The more you create, the more work you'll get. Your social media following doesn't know or care if it's paid work, they just like what they see! You can't expect to get any paid work or client work if you aren't creating on a consistent basis. I still do personal projects all the time - it's so so so important. Especially when you're just starting out. I never tried to go full-time, I just had a goal to shoot on a weekly basis, whether it was paid work or not. I constantly had new stuff to share and promote while also having a blast playing with new techniques and ideas and improving. Within 6 months, I ended up having to go full-time because I was getting so many inquiries. Just get out there and put your stuff out there and good things will happen!
If you could grab coffee with ANY #BossLady, alive or dead, who would it be?
This is such a hard questionnnnnnnnn! I obviously have a few photographers who are my all time favorites and I would totally fangirl out about if I met in person. I won't be specific because I don't want to jinx my chances of getting to meet them!
I would LOVE to get coffee with the founders of SoulCycle, Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice. SoulCycle has changed my life in so many ways and I would love to hear their stories.
Also, Debbie Harry. Because she's a goddess and my ultimate style icon.
Thank you to Leah of lj shepherd photography for capturing the woman behind KNDM co. so perfectly. pure magic.
If you're thinking this name sounds familiar, it's because we tend to do just a *bit* of work with Kami...'cause she's awesome. Click each of the photos below to see what other blogs featured her photography skills!