Today we are speaking with Krista, the head photographer at Classic Kids Photography in Santa Monica and Pasadena, California. Krista is a sweet, savvy and very talented photographer who looks like she was born in Los Angeles rather than her native Minnesota. Club MomMe is so thrilled to be hosting events at Classic Kids Photography and featuring their mini-shoots at many of our events like our upcoming MomMe and Me Tea.
Krista, what inspired you to become a photographer?
I have always had a passion for art and the creative process; photography was something that came naturally to me and I really enjoyed growing up. I received my first camera in elementary school (a Polaroid which I was absolutely obsessed with) and became hooked. I first started taking pictures of flowers in our front yard and after mastering the art of working with still subjects, moved on to snapping photos of my small cousins.
Did you study photography in college?
I actually studied Communications with a minor in Photography, hoping to one day become a photojournalist. Little did I know that my true calling was to be a children’s photographer! Shortly after college I moved to Minneapolis and worked as a data analyst by day and waitress by night to make ends meet. As one would expect, I soon became restless and yearned for a more creative way to make a living. That’s when I came across a job ad looking for a “Monkey Wrangler” for Classic Kids in San Francisco. I replied immediately with the subject line, “PERFECT!” and the rest is really history!
It seems like you were destined to be a Classic Kids Photographer/Monkey Wrangler! How long now have you been working at Classic Kids Photography?
Almost five years! My first year with the company was spent assisting and training in our San Francisco studio, after which I relocated to Los Angeles to run Classic Kids Santa Monica. Since that time, I have had the privilege of getting to capture cherished memories for so many families and have also had the chance to see my small subjects grow and change before my eyes. We also recently opened a second LA area studio in Pasadena, which I shoot in a couple of days a week.
What age groups do you like to photograph? Making subjects smile…Newborn…etc
To tell you the truth, I really enjoy working with all age groups! My job is really a combination of photography and psychology, as I’ve really had to discover how to bring the best personality out in age groups from baby all the way to grandparent. There is a certain challenge to each photo shoot that I look forward to. With babies (2 months to a year), you really have to engage with them a bit to figure out what excites them. Some babies are more sensitive than others and prefer just to be spoken to quietly. Other babies get a kick out of loud Peek-A-Boo’s and singing. It’s really a matter of paying attention from the second a client walks in the door to know what techniques will get the best results in the photos.
Tell us about photographing newborns.
We love to have newborns in the studio at around 5-12 days of age. At this stage, babies will sleep almost the entire shoot and we can really mold them into some amazing positions to showcase how small they are. We always keep the studio very warm and toasty and have plenty of fuzzy blankets on hand so baby is comfy-cozy. We also allow for up to 4 hours for a newborn shoot so that we have plenty of time if baby should need a feeding break or extra time to fall asleep.
How does that differ from photographing toddlers?
With toddlers, having an assistant on hand is always key. Sometimes my assistant will have to pick up the child, wipe drool off their face, set them on the backdrop paper and immediately run behind me to do a “monkey show.” It takes a lot of energy and persistence, but is always worth the hard work when the proofs come in and you get series of amazing shots where the child is truly laughing and engaging with us.
And what about shooting children?
For ages between four and ten years old, I really love to just ask questions to invoke a conversation, as kids tend to be very expressive when talking about things they like. Asking them what they want to be when they grow up is a great starter. I always tend to throw in a couple of silly suggestions for them to get a laugh while they are contemplating their answer. For some reason the answer “Crocodile dentist” as an option always gets a good chuckle. Or sometimes I tell kids that when I was little I wanted to be a giraffe when I grew up. That answer still makes me laugh, too!
Is it different shooting parents with their kids?
Sometimes our hardest subjects can be the parents, as they don’t always come into the studio feeling confident about being in pictures. The key to this is to have fun with both the kids and the parents. I’m really unafraid of making a fool out of myself to get a natural, happy expression. We never tell our clients to “sit and smile.” We want them to be having fun along with us so that we can get the most natural shots possible.
Lastly, tell us about your favorite moments in a photoshoot.
I have a wonderful client who comes in every year with her young daughter for updated shots and holiday cards. This last year her daughter (who was 7 at the time) requested that Mom leave during the shoot so that we could have our “playdate” together alone. After Mom promptly agreed and went next door to grab a coffee, my sweet little subject said, “I have a secret to tell you.” She made me kneel down and whispered in my ear, “You are my best friend.” My heart absolutely melted and we had so much fun for the rest of the “playdate” as we giggled over girl talk, had a dancing contest and chatted about princesses. Needless to say, the photographs really showed how much fun we had together!