We had the good fortune of connecting with Katherine Bacon and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Katherine, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
To provide some background – my first career was in IT Infrastructure and technology management consulting. At the time, my life was network closets and VPN setups and eventually software selections and multi-hour discovery meetings. Wedding and portrait photography for me during that time was my “fun job” – something I could look forward to on weekends and enjoy for the sake of it. Since it wasn’t a main source of income, photography as a side hustle remained untainted by financial pressure. For four years, I told myself that the creative space was too competitive and saturated and that photography would always remain a low-risk, semi-lucrative hobby.
In 2020, at the height of pandemic uncertainty, I ended becoming one of the millions of corporate workers who were laid off or furloughed. Initially, I felt the need to scramble for a similar position in the consulting world, but something about this sudden life shift had me reconsidering my view on photography as a profession. Diving into the photography world full-time was something I had dreamed of but never seriously considered, so facing that possibility was honestly unnerving. The biggest risks I considered were:
1. Oversaturated and overly competitive industry
2. Insufficient ROI
3. Burn-out / falling out of love with photography
I definitely agonized over the decision to go full-time for a few months, but ultimately made the choice to bet on myself and ended up not even applying for another consulting job. Kay Bacon Photo is coming up on it’s one year anniversary, and I’m happy to report that the relationships I’ve made within the creative industry have been so enriching and inspiring, each investment I’ve made has more than paid for itself, and an intentional approach regarding work life balance has helped retain my love for my work. I’m thankful for the space I’ve been able to take up in the creative industry, and for making the decision to pursue my passion project as a career.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
If you take one glance at my portfolio, it’s apparent that location is a huge priority. I think the best photos are captured when there is a happy memory behind the photo – which has led me and my clients to hike mountains, jump in the ocean, get ice cream, have a dance party on an overlook, anything that sparks fun (because fun is underrated).
Shooting with the objective of having fun is rewarding, but definitely takes a little more logistical planning. I am constantly location scouting because what might be a fun adventure for a young couple who hikes all the time might be actually impossible for a family with small children. Important factors for locations include access, permits, ideal time of day, month, or season, as well as avoiding peak busy times. A lesson I’ve learned too is that for some locations and activities, you can plan and even be familiar with the area and still end up having an unexpected roadblock or turn of events. Always have a plan B (and maybe a few more after that). One of my favorite things is planning an adventure together because it definitely helps me get to know my clients a lot better and help make their session unique to them! Ultimately, the photos you will love the most are the ones where you’re having fun, so my goal is always to capture you LIVING.
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?
Truthfully, for a weeklong trip, I’d probably drag my best friend out of the city for the majority of the time. I’d drive up to Page, AZ for kayaking and canyons, then back down to see the Grand Canyon, catch some red rock hikes in Sedona, and then get back to Phoenix sleep off the resulting exhaustion poolside at the Scott. We would head downtown for dinner options like Harumi Sushi and Sake, restaurants at The Churchill, Cibo, and Clever Koi then stop at Novel Ice Cream for ice cream filled donuts. To wrap up the trip, we could have the option of exploring shops at The Frederick or driving a little bit to go explore the Superstition Mountains or Salt River.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’m dedicating this shoutout to my husband and my best friend (who is also a photographer). Thank you both for listening to me obsess over each pro and con while deciding to go full-time with photography, and for believing in me every time the dreaded ‘imposter syndrome’ kicked in. I owe you for those last convincing pushes to pursue this dream and for that, I’d like to offer you a lifetime supply of free photos. Obviously.
For portrait of myself, the credit is Surita Smith