If you hear a photographer describe their work as “My Life Through a Lens” then chances are their images are as cliché as their word choices… I am not one of those photographers. It seems I have a need to create, instead of just a mere desire for it and that has lead me to love the adventure for the artistic phenomenon.
Adventure. Such a simple word, yet it is a huge determining factor in my artistic style. Each day is a personal expedition into the unknown and, frankly, it has led me to new experiences and opportunities that I never felt possible. I spend a ton of time stepping outside of my comfort zone just because it makes me happy to be doing something cool. I like to describe it as a constant need for motion. I believe it was Newton who stated that an object at rest will stay at rest until acted on by an outside force... My art IS my outside force. If I'm not moving or exploring, then I'm not particularly happy. It's a blessing and a curse all wrapped up into one, but I think this weird enjoyment for the unknown is what has driven me even further into my passion for art and my love of photography.
My art. My art is my life, my passion, and my love. I have spent eight years getting as close to perfect as I possibly could with my work. I know I have a lot to learn in my field still, but I am excited to learn it. Oddly enough, while capturing the image, I do not see my subject matter as clearly as those “cliché photographers” I have mentioned above. Instead, when I put my face up to the viewfinder, I see the world as a mass of color and shapes. I use the abstracted image in my head to create my composition.
Though I may abstract an image in my own eyes, each of my photographs is done in an extremely strict fashion. I have my own “set of rules” for my photography that I always follow. As I have come to create my own personal style, I have determined the “Dos and Don’ts” for my artwork: Do add visual dynamics through shadows, don’t have motion blur. Do allow yourself to have complete artistic freedom in your design style, don’t rely on Pinterest for all your ideas. Do monitor all aspects of color in your image, don’t forget about the classic loveliness of a successful black and white photograph. As you can see, it is easy to say that I am stricter toward my photography than most aspects of my life, but a strict photographic style is a large part of my tale.
How I edit certain pieces of my work is also a very important key in my artistic portfolio. I can spend hours upon hours dabbling in Photoshop just because it is something I enjoy. For that reason, (and the fact that I also create works of graphic design, desktop publishing, and videography), I tack on the title of Digital Media Artist as well.
Eight years have gone by since I first picked up a camera. Some would say, “Well, what is eight years -- barely a decade, wars have lasted longer than that.”, but if we take the time to look at where I was when I started my photographic journey, a mere child with an eye for the more artistic aspects of life, then it may be stranger than assumed.
On a family vacation to the Outer Banks in North Carolina, I found myself annoyed with the average beach surroundings. A wave here, a palm tree there, and a group of 16 people who were perfectly content with simply parking their behinds in the sand and staring at the sea foam. As I attempted to keep sane in the overwhelming heaps of boredom, I took my mother's Point-and-Shoot camera from her purse. A few hours later, my family was in complete awe at what I had captured. At the time, I was just eleven years old, but apparently I was using a camera like a seasoned veteran. I will be blunt in saying, eleven year old me didn’t particularly care what my elder counterparts were saying, but when twelve year old me was given a camera for her birthday, my life changed for the better.
Growing up with an above average artistic talent was a strange occurrence. Throughout middle school I seemed to be coddled by teachers who thought it was “cute” that I wanted to be an artist, all the while they were trying to push me to try for a “real career”. Of course, the stubborn child I was never diverged from my path and continued to learn the photographic trade. In high school, I met a whole different perspective on my love and creation of art.
(Now, I won’t say that I am good at photography. I will say that I like what I create and I am proud of it… and that my images have also left me with 180+ art awards to my name, but, as with most things, some will love it while others will hate it.)
From an art teacher who refused to help me accomplish my dreams (actually telling me to stop entering my work into galleries and such because I should “Leave it for someone else”) to people who actually were angry that I allowed myself to fully embrace my passion, I can’t say that my life as an artist has been a walk in the park. Actually, there have been a great deal of hurdles I had to overcome before I was able to really allow myself to embrace the art world, but it is because of those hurdles that I have such a high level of respect for all artists in the industry and for the creation of all forms of art, in general.
After teaching myself for five years, I was given a full scholarship from Scholastic, Inc. to study Fashion & Commercial Photography at Maine Media Workshops and College in Camden, Maine in the summer of my Junior Year of high school. I spent the summer gaining a better understanding of the aspects of portraiture and I found that, hey, I was actually pretty good at it. Prior to that summer, I was a self-deemed “Nature Photographer”, but through my time at Maine Media I was able to find my true niche in the realm of Portrait Photography. It is sometimes odd to me to think that I had found something so incredibly important to me at such a young age and that I actually was successful at it, but I know that I am truly blessed with this ability.
So, with an eye for design and a passion for creativity, I first held my camera at the age of twelve. Nearly eight years later and a hefty amount of time spent behind the lens, my photographs have taken on a personality of their own. Mixing my knowledge of fashion photography and the strict ethical codes of photojournalism, I have left myself with the ability to capture moments like no other!
Currently, I reside in the beautiful mountains of the Alleghenies (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to be exact!) where I am completing coursework for the prestigious Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Robert Morris University. I hold the Assistant Photographer position at RMU Sentry Media and am the Photo Intern for Pittsburgh City Paper. My work has been showcased all of the United States and abroad, including cities such as NYC, Washington D.C, Paris, and London!
Finally, I find a vast importance to add a thank you to those who have helped me become an artist. The first being God, as he has blessed me with this gift and this understanding of the visual world and I am so thankful he has directed me thus far. Second, I must thank my amazing family. My mother, brother, father, and grandparents are always there to help me when I fail or assist me in the purchase of a new camera. They are my rock. Third, I must also give a huge shout out to my friends who are all amazing models and amazing inspirations. Thank you all. You make my world a little more colorful!
This is Week 1 of Artists Tell Their Stories – 52 Artists in 52 Weeks. Thank you for reading and sharing Katey’s story today. To connect with her and see more of her work, please visit the following links: