Kim Lowe Brings Holiday Joy to Cradles to Crayons

December 2, 2011

By Barbara Goldman

© Kim Lowe

Cradles to Crayons ad created by Kim Lowe and her shot of  Clara from The Nutcracker for <em>BPP</em>.

Kim Lowe is one very talented woman who wears many hats. She is a Boston-based mama and a kids and lifestyle photographer.  She started her photography career at age seven as a still-life photographer, documenting her stuffed animals’ lives. She grew up, graduated from the Art Institute of Boston and became an art director at several big-time ad agencies including Hill Holliday and Arnold, and even managed to win a few awards. With ten years of ad experience under her belt, Lowe decided to put it all to use doing something she loved more. She opened her own photo studio in 2003, using her art director and photography skills to add to the lives of others.

Recently Lowe was contacted by Susan Flynn, Associate Editor of Boston Parents Paper, to shoot their December holiday cover of   the dance character Clara from The Nutcracker. As an avid reader of BPP, Lowe was thrilled to do the assignment.  Because the publication is free, they offer full-page ads in exchange for work that is done for the publication.  The free ad did not really work for Lowe and her audience, but she knew of a group who could use the exposure and promotion, especially at this time of year.  Lowe used the ad space to help promote the kids non-profit organization Cradles to Crayons.  Cradles to Crayons was founded in 2002, with the mission of providing children ages 0 to 12 some of the most important basics of life—free of charge. These basics include clothing, school supplies, toys and much more.  They provide all the physical goods that help children feel safe, protect them from the elements and help them to learn. They also partner with social-service organizations to connect communities that have surplus resources—new or used items in good condition—with communities that desperately need access to those resources. Lowe contacted Liz Farley, Marketing Coordinator for C2C, who was thrilled for the exposure. Unfortunately, however, C2C was not able to pull an ad together in just two weeks, so Lowe put on her hat as art director. She used one of her shots of a little boy bundled up in the snow, wrote a headline, “With your $25 donation a child gets a winter coat. And the freedom to bury himself in the snow,” and also designed the body and copy of the ad.

With the ad created for C2C, she started work on her shoot for BPP, which was set for Sunday, October 30th, notable this year as the weekend of the great snowstorm that hit the whole Northeast.  Lowe was scheduled to shoot young ballerinas of The Nutcracker in a dance studio that also happened to be dark, was in a basement and had no windows or natural light.  As luck would have it, the dance studio had a power outage from the snow storm, and Lowe had absolutely no light for the shoot or heat for her young dancers.  They had to bundle up in coats to stay warm between shoots.

The challenges kept mounting but the ever-resourceful Lowe used a monolight and a few carefully placed reflectors and was able to capture the grace and joy of the young ballerina Clara meeting the Nutcracker. The girls were real troopers and continued to dance for the shots, as everyone pitched in to make the project work. 

The BPP magazine with Lowes’ cover of Clara jumping for joy came out December 1st and can be found all over the city. In her e-mailed response, Associated Editor Flynn could not have been happier, “The photos look terrific! Lots of choices, which is great. You have so much fun energy and helped to make the ballerinas feel relaxed. Thank you!”

 The C2C ads that Lowe created will run in the Boston Parents Paper, Boston Business Journal and on local billboards, all space offered up for free. They will also appear in Old Navy stores across Massachusetts as they help C2C collect donated kids clothing this holiday season. “I was happy to do this for Cradles to Crayons because it’s been a tough year for them and they need all the exposure they can get,” says Lowe.  

And there’s more, Lowe also donates her photography for her “Two Birds” fundraiser that she started doing two years ago that also helps the C2C organization.  She posts 45-minute time slots on her Facebook page, and parents can bid on those timeslots to get holiday pictures taken of their kids. Their entire bid is donated directly to C2C. “It’s not just sitting down and getting a pretty picture taken — each timeslot also has a hair and makeup artist and a wardrobe stylist to pamper the kids and make them feel like superstars. It’s pretty cool,” says Lowe. The entire crew donates their time and talent.  Photography retailer EP Levine, also in the Boston area, donates the lighting equipment, and different photographers donate their studio space each year. The idea behind “Two Birds” is that parents want a nice picture of their children for a holiday card and less fortunate kids need warm clothes for the winter — Two birds, one stone. Parents also love the idea and have remarked on Lowe’s talent for capturing their children’s personalities and enjoyment of the shoots.

Kim Lowe certainly knows the meaning of gift giving with her photography for all seasons. You can see more of her kids, lifestyle and product work at her site, and see more about the Two Birds fundraiser here.  For more information or how to donate to Cradles to Crayons –The Giving Factory, visit their site at