We had the good fortune of connecting with Katelin Kinney and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Katelin, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I never wanted to start my own business. I always knew I wanted to be a commercial photographer, but I hated the idea of finding my own clients, dealing with business costs/taxes/insurance, or trying to negotiate pricing. I had hoped to find some sort of full time employment at maybe an advertising agency- I later learned that’s not the structure of the commercial photography industry. I did find a decent full time job doing photography for Amazon sellers, but the company I worked for went under right before Covid hit. Once Covid was in full swing I started doing freelance work more and more until it just snowballed and suddenly I was making more money than I ever did being an employee at someone else’s company. So my company basically formed out of necessity and I’m so grateful for that. I have more freedom and income now than I ever imagined. Along with those benefits, I’ve actually started to really love the business side of my industry- learning client relations, networking, and billing, negotiations, etc.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’ve wanted to be a conceptual advertising photographer since I was 12 years old and saw the Secret Deodorant campaign created by Kate Turning. Since then I’ve pushed myself constantly to be technically better with every photo I create. The hard part has been understanding the business side. The easy part has been developing my style and technically skills. Aaron Nace, an extremely talented photographer and retoucher, created the company Phlearn to help educate artists on Photoshop and that was super helpful in elevating my skills.
Where I’ve landed is a style that is almost hyper-realistic, very poppy and colorful, and I focus mostly on products set in surreal and conceptual environments. My brand is all about juicy visuals and unusual settings. I’ve heard many times in my line of work that there is nothing truly original, but I beg to differ. I may be influenced by many things in my life, but my goal is always to create something I’ve definitely never seen before.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Nature first and foremost. I truly believe Tucson is one of the most beautiful areas in the whole country. We’re cupped in a bowl of mountains and amazing trails and views are just 15-20 minutes in any direction. For food I always like bringing people to Culinary Dropout, Little Anthony’s, and if you’re in Tucson you have to try the best churros in the world at King Churro.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’ve gathered so many great resources over the last few years. My first big influence was Dean Lavenson, a food photographer in Louisville, KY. I assisted him on one shoot years ago and we instantly clicked. He’s been a great mentor and now we get to work together on projects for big brands like Papa Johns. Another invaluable resource I only found last year was Image Crafters and its creator Jamie Piper. She has produced A TON of educational courses to help get a clear insight into a rather murky industry. She also just launched her own subscription based community to connect photographers with commercial buyers. I’m really excited to see the opportunities that will come out of that.