These are uncertain times we are in folks, there is no denying it. With the onset of the Covid 19 virus becoming a global pandemic, it has left heartbreak and devastation in its wake. People have lost jobs, businesses have closed, entire cities have shut down and sadly, thousands of people have died due to this horrific disease. We have certainly seen the ugly side of people with the selfishness of hoarding cleaning supplies and people insisting on being in public places with no regard for others. However, one positive thing that has happened is that people are really in touch with their creativity. Whether it is a tik tok video, a neighborhood flash mob while respecting social distancing or an online karaoke community on social media, people are using their imaginations to help stave off the enemy of isolation, boredom.  Change to a routine can be stressful for a lot of people, this creative especially. I applaud anyone out there setting your imagination and your creativity free. Get your dance, your drawing, your photography, and your poetry, whatever it is, get your groove on. Take this opportunity to look around you and see how the earth is healing itself and recognize that we each have something to do with minimizing our carbon footprint. My grandmother lived through the Depression and carried those lessons that she learned from those difficult times throughout her entire life. May we not waste this chance we’ve been given to learn from what we have been doing. We can live with less, we can find other ways to entertain ourselves, we can look for the helpers as Mr. Rogers mother once told him or we can become the helpers. Carry on weary friend and know that we at Kate Doster Media see you; we hear you and we are praying for relief for all.

 

~Kate

In early 2008, I was working in the medical field when I sustained a serious injury. After 13 procedures on my spine, my physical therapist “Look at the bright side, you get to reinvent your life.” In 2012, I was in love, independently wealthy, with an addiction to pain pills following that injury four years earlier. When I told my surgeon that I didn’t want to be on the drug cocktail he had me on, he said “”just quit taking everything, you’ll have a bad weekend and you’ll be alright.” Well, that didn’t happen, and while I did survive that detox, my relationship did not. A friend said “this is a blessing in disguise, you get a do-over.” I picked up my first digital camera the summer of 2012 after spending some 30+ years behind different lenses. Through what I can only call serendipity, I became the still photographer for a highly popular fashion blog team covering Phoenix Fashion Week. I spent two years working with professional models on and off the catwalk. Through some social media networking, I somehow landed a role shooting celebrities on the red carpet in Hollywood California. In a relatively short time, I had gone from a broken hearted, physically broken woman to a well known celebrity photographer. I did a lot of studio shoots, location shoots, themed shoots, haute couture shoots. I worked with children, adults, couples, animals including exotic snakes and even had a kissing booth for dogs to raise awareness for shelter dogs. I had a high standard in photography and I believed that every shoot needed to tell a story somehow. I created a love story with peacocks, shot high fashion in a wildlife park, shot a Calvin Klein themed shoot, and even dipped my toe into shibari, the Japanese art of rope tying. As I grew personally and professionally, I evolved from Kate Doster Photography to Kate Doster Media and eventually became a magazine publisher. In 2018, I started the idea of sending the elevator back. I really wanted to take young, budding creatives and expose them to the kind of work I’ve been blessed to do for years. My assistant Kimmi went from “den mother” in Hollywood trying to wrangle up a house full of artistic folks to becoming my principle photographer. I have shot world famous designers, some of my favorite celebrity idols and some of the sweetest models ever to walk the catwalk. I had been stepping out on faith for years, just trusting the journey and trying to pay attention to the messages that were always presented to me.  The ultimate test was to come in 2018. I met someone and fell in love in a whirlwind romance. All I can say is I danced with the devil and he tried to destroy me along with himself.  It became necessary to leave Arizona for the peace of the south. I told myself as I packed my stuff, “you’ll be okay, you get to start over.” I thought that was the end of my journey with my creative endeavors. I didn’t have a studio, my mentor, my hair and make-up artists, my models, my graphic designer, my writers, anything in my new town, but I trusted the process. I’ve discovered through the years that fluid is okay and as much as change is scary, trust the journey and try to pay attention to the messages that life is trying to teach you along the way. Change is liberating if you will allow it to be. I truly believe the key to a happy life is to always be accepting of growth. You may have a cushy spot within your tight little circle, but the magic is just beyond. Now take a breath and get moving.

I am afraid of lots of things, mice, snakes, frogs, lizards but nothing scares me worse than my own camera equipment. There you have it, a photographer who is legit scared of her gear. I wasn’t always like this, it changed in the last year for me where my confidence took a beating and I interpreted that as not knowing how to shoot. I realize that this blog doesn’t instill huge amounts of confidence, but hopefully, as you read along, you’ll come to understand why a fear of my camera gear makes me a better photographer in the long run. There is nothing worse than having your picture taken by someone who is ego driven and who is overly confident. Sometimes, they are unwilling to bend or be flexible in a shoot because they know all. Working with someone who has a respect and a healthy fear of their equipment means that they will have respect for you. Think of professional photography as a team effort. We work for you and we work with you to bring your authenticity to a new level.

I have such a hard time with vulnerability. I will do almost anything to avoid that feeling of being out in the open, raw and afraid, but it translates phenomenally through the lens and as a photographer, I should strive to do what I ask of others. Have you ever felt like no one would understand you if you shared your personal truth? Or if you told someone you loved them and had that fear that they wouldn’t reciprocate? Look, I get it. I feel that anxiety all the time over one thing or another, but the truth is, photography is an illusion. We manipulate light and backgrounds and even slightly alter your appearance through subtle editing, so when we have a model that can truly release and allow their fears to come out, it results in magic. When I first began photography as a professional, I called my business Free Yourself Photography because I really wanted people to feel like they could do exactly that and I even named my blog, Free Yourself, A Love Movement. Freeing yourself has long been a fascination of mine. Years ago, I agreed to do a shoot with fellow photographer Gabe Parker where I got made up to resemble singer Adele. It was a really long shoot and I did my best to just release and let go of my fears, my anxiety, my body dysmorphia and plug into the experience. If you truly want something that will change your perspective and perhaps your life, hire a professional photographer and get plugged into and get real with the experience.  – Peace, Kate

I am asked occasionally what is the most important thing I have learned as a photographer. Honestly, it’s that I will forever be a student of my craft. The day you stop learning or worse, the day you believe you know it all is the day you need to get rid of your gear. My mentor Jim has been behind the lens over 35 years and is still learning new ways to perfect what I believe he is already a master of. I also think that you have to focus on your strengths. In my case, I am not strong in lighting, never have been. No matter how many times I have been shown, I just seem to never grasp on to all the complexities professional studio lighting has to offer. I don’t know if it’s because there are too many variables of what could be that I psych myself out, I don’t know. What I am strong in, Jim isn’t and he’ll be the first to tell you. I am strong in directing a set, working with themes and coordinating large shoots. He tells me frequently that he just can’t direct the way I do and I know I can’t do lighting the way he does. For years now, I have taken Jim on shoots to ensure that things go off without a hitch. You have to be able to know and recognize your strengths as well as your weaknesses. This is the same attitude to approach everything in life. You aren’t going to know everything, it is perfectly acceptable to ask for help, to focus on what you do know and ask help where you don’t. The worst photographers you could hire are the know it all types who refuse to take direction from anyone. In a day and age where it is very easy to purchase a DSLR camera and print out a few hundred business cards, please be mindful of who you are hiring to capture precious moments with you.