Blog Writer Alison McCreery of POP Chooses Photographer and Director Kate Powers
March 4, 2013
I recently decided to interview San Francisco and New York based lifestyle, beauty, fashion and kids photographer and director Kate Powers. Represented by Kate Ryan. Kate picked up a camera 12 years ago, started shooting her classically beautiful California lifestyle work and in this time has built a client list that includes Gap, Olay, Target, Bare Escentuals, Paul Mitchell, Old Navy, Neiman Marcus, Conde Nast Traveller, Glamour, Seventeen, Self and Elle Japan among many others. I chose to interview Kate because I wanted to talk with her about the recent evolution in her work.
Kate has been a favorite of mine for many years. Her lifestyle work is consistently fun, bright, and beautifully styled, composed and flawlessly lit. She marries high production value with a sensibility all her own—an accessibility engendered by the ability to capture real beauty in the off moments and genuinely relaxed and happy models full of personality. She gives us a way in and it’s somewhere we want to be.
In December I was doing the rounds looking at photographers’ sites and saw something strikingly new and very fun on Kate’s site. Fashion and lifestyle work with her trademark playful aesthetic at its core but with a new sophistication, grace and charm. And a new beauty portfolio that brings all of this and a little whimsy to this category, to great success. In short, you can’t look at her work and not smile or get the sense that you are included. This time we’re invited to the party.
As soon as I spoke with Kate, I knew where it came from. The brightness, professionalism and studied dedication that informs her images and career was present in every interaction. In our interview we spoke about many things, but in particular about the prescience that motivated her to evolve her style after ten years of shooting and how she approached this. About pushing beyond the familiar, really loving what you do and staying true to yourself while taking risks.
About pushing beyond the familiar, what goes into a successful lifestyle shoot from model selection to the mood on set and how each body of work influences the other.
POP: You have a new creative direction in your work, an evolution of your classically beautiful and fun lifestyle images.
A couple of years ago I felt like I was starting to get into a creative rut and had stopped growing as a photographer. I’ve always been very grateful for my career and began to develop a fear of not loving it anymore.
I knew I had to make a change because otherwise it would become stale. I felt compelled to open up the way I saw imagery and saw talent. I made a decision to not be the photographer I felt like I was supposed to be and to open up and take new risks.
My work has always been very happy and cheerful and I never intended on losing that element. I wanted to grow it up, which to me meant keeping the same beautiful pictures that make people happy but with a new level of sophistication. And sometimes a little bit of a fun darker side….
I feel lucky to have learned on film and transitioned to digital. You see trends coming through photography but I’ve always wanted to be true to the kind of images that I like to take. Classic and not trend driven. You wonder how it will evolve and what’s next.
The journey never ends as photographer and fun to have renewed interest and passion. My work started out classic lifestyle, backlit, and not too much lighting. The more I’ve gotten into the business the more avenues I want to explore.
POP: Where did you look for inspiration?
Everywhere?? I wasn’t looking for any specific inspiration, but I’ve been trying to challenge myself to find new things, too find new talent and open up my brain a little bit. Sometimes I feel like I’m much more of an intuitive photographer than a conceptual photographer. My best pictures come when all the elements are in place—the right talent and light—and we get to play and find magic moments. In this framework I allowed myself to play. It’s been really fun. Ultimately you have a beautiful girl or couple and there are countless ways to approach it and tease the energy of a shoot or image. And it’s just broadening my own perspective of what is possible and letting go of some expectations about myself.
POP: What’s next?
More of the same! And hopefully more beauty! I feel so lucky to do what I do. I love this industry, the crews, the camaraderie, the collaboration… we’re all just so lucky we get to make pictures for a living.
Sam /© Kate Powers
Natalia /© Kate Powers