Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Meet This Week's Judge: Kate Densmore!

Kate Densmore of Kate Densmore Photography is returning to us this week with a special feature. She's asked you to share "stories of home", and has prepared some of her own. Take advantage of the opportunity to learn more about her, and preview her new book which just came out yesterday!

  1. Though we at Snap Maven already know you Kate, can you tell us a little about yourself for those are new to your work?

Yes! It’s so wonderful to be back after all these years, and I’m super honored to be working with the Snap Maven team again! So for those who don’t know me, I’m Kate. I’m a family documentary photographer, mentor, and workshop instructor, with clientele worldwide. I currently live at the Grand Canyon, in northern Arizona, but because my husband is a national park ranger, we really have made our home in the National Park Service itself. I have two young daughters, and we lead a simple, though unconventional, life together.

  1. Can you give us a brief overview of what your new book “Stories of Home” is about?

It’s about the art of photographing family, whatever that means to you. I talk about my techniques for emotional storytelling, crafting personal themes and intent, exploring vision, creating mood and drama, working with natural and artificial light, and seeing the art in the everyday. But it isn’t just a book that shows you how to do what I do; it’s a book that will encourage you to find your own vision for family photography. I’ve never before sat down and attempted to put what I do, and WHY, down in words quite like this. I think I was waiting for the right place to do so, and Craft & Vision, with its stellar reputation and legacy of world class photographers generously sharing their best techniques at an affordable price, fits with so much of my personal philosophies when it comes to photography education. It feels like I’ve come home, and I couldn’t ask for a better platform with which to share the things I am most passionate about.

  1. Who would you say is the intended audience for this book?

This book is for anyone who is looking to find a deeper sense of emotion in their family driven work. I wrote it with the more intermediate to advanced photographer in mind, but I think we can all benefit from seeking to make more emotional photographs. So really, it’s meant for anyone who wants to capture more meaningful photographs of family, whether that is personal work or for a client, or if you are an amateur or a professional.

  1. What can readers expect to take away from this book?

Solid techniques for strengthening composition and working in a variety of conditions. A more emotional sense of storytelling photography. And permission to find their own vision for daily family life, and to make it something that reflects not just how family life looks, but how it feels.

  1. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in the writing of this book?

Myself. I first heard about Craft & Vision three and a half years ago, and I remember thinking to myself “I wonder what it takes to be one of their authors?” They are legendary for a reason. It’s a publication company headed by David duChemin, and if you are reading this and don’t know who he is, stop right now and go find his blog. I never actually thought I would have the chance to write for them, it was much more of a dream than a goal. So early this year, when the opportunity came my way, it was a literal dream come true. And I know that is cheesy, but it’s the truth. And when a dream that you always thought would be a dream, finally comes true? Well, I have to admit that I didn’t really know what to do. Just because you are given a green light to do something, doesn’t mean that the actual doing of that thing is any easier. And for me, it was far harder. I got in my own head too much, and while it wasn’t a confidence thing exactly, it was something that I had to overcome myself. Luckily I got great advice from some caring people, and just got to work and it all started coming together as soon as I started writing. It still took many months, but once I got out of my own way, it happened.

  1. If you had to pick only one, what would you say is the single best thing a photographer can do to become a better artist?

One thing… Well, without a doubt it’s to take lots of photographs. There aren’t any shortcuts, and even if you find the best mentor, the best workshops, or the best gear or books, they only work if you do. And our work is to make photographs. Over and over and constantly and with as much open-mindedness as you can muster.

  1. Interviews with several other photographers are included in this book, why did you feel they were the best contributors?

They each represent how diverse something so labeled can be. Saying you are a “family documentary photographer” can come with some expectations, and I liked how each of those three photographers rose above those biases, and found their own way of expressing how they see family life. They are also individuals I have been following for years, and I’ve been continually impressed with how they’ve stuck to their own route. If you are aware of the Helsinki Bus Theory, then that comment makes even more sense. They have each stayed on their bus route, and their work is so much better for it.

  1. What would you say is the quintessential “must-read” book for all photographers?

If I had to pick only one book, I would pick David duChemin’s Photographically Speaking. There is nothing else out there like it in terms of really getting at the heart of what photography is all about – a medium for communication. But, if you were generous enough to let me choose two books, I’d quickly follow it up with Magnum Magnum, edited by Brigitte Lardinois. There is nothing quite like the inspiration present in that book, and I love reading how each world-class photographer is viewed by a peer.

  1. What has been your greatest struggle as an artist overall in getting from where you began to where you are now?

Patience. Or maybe time – experience? How ever you want to look at it – the biggest struggle for me has been waiting. I am a huge believer in doing the work, but there is this intangible bit of developing that work that simply takes time. You can’t rush experience or maturity or wisdom, and art needs time to develop those things at it’s own pace. And I am not a patient person, so waiting for my work to develop that depth of experience and glean of maturity has not been easy. And even as I write those words, I can acknowledge that I still don’t have nearly the experience or maturity I want for my work, but I do think the years have taught me that the wait is not just worth it, but important in and of itself.

  1. What can we look forward to from you in the future? More books, maybe?

Possibly! I do really enjoy writing, although a book of this magnitude takes some serious time and effort, and I don’t know that I will have that in me again for a little while at least! I want to focus more on my photography, and figure out what comes next. I don’t know yet if that will be commercial work, or humanitarian work, or even just continuing to do what I am doing now, on a bigger scale. Craft & Vision has been my dream for the last three years, and as wonderful as it is to see that dream realized, it takes some reflection and time to figure out what the next dream will be. I want to enjoy this time of “in between” and get some professional advice as to what my next steps may be.

  1. When, where, and how can we get a copy?
Stories of Home: The Art of Photographing Family will be available via Craft & Vision (www.craftandvision) on November 16, 2016. (direct link –

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