On the podcast, I often feature people who are relatively far along in their photography journey. However, we don’t usually talk as much about what it’s like to just be starting out in your business: things like the challenges, the fun, and the relationships that happen at the beginning of the journey. That’s why I was so excited this week to get to know Kara Rodriguez of Kara Joy Photography. She’s new to the game, but she brings a deep passion for storytelling that shines through in the authenticity of her photos.
Kara’s journey into photography started last summer when her family got some family photos done. She loved them at first, but as she looked at them longer she started coming up with ideas about how she might have done them differently. She starting gaining confidence which led her to learn more about the ins and outs of her camera. Kara dove quickly into her learning this past October and hasn’t stopped since.
“I just binged on all of the education that I could find on how to use my camera and I just fell in love with it. And I feel like I keep comparing it to Alice in Wonderland. I went down the rabbit hole and there are more doors than I knew was possible.”
Although originally an engineer by trade, Kara's been in touch with her creative side for a while. She’s especially familiar with the power of storytelling. She’s written two books, My Father's Shadow and Got Milked. The first, her memoir, is personal, chronicling some of the traumatic experiences she faced when she was young. Kara says she shares these stories to help others.
“Now I'm getting into photography because it's just a different way of storytelling.”
She sees photography as a way to capture and share stories and memories, not unlike writing. That’s why she loves taking photos that celebrate authentic moments between people–photos that can be tied to a memory.
“There's a place for [photos] that you're smiling [in] and everybody looks nice and perfect, but we also got some of those taken and I don't have any memories tied to that experience. It's just that time we took a photo on some random bench, versus helping families create those memories.”
So far, her biggest challenge has been the feeling of vulnerability that comes with presenting work to clients. Because clients and photographers don’t always see eye to eye on the outcome of their photos, taking “good” photos isn't black and white. But photography doesn’t offer a right or wrong answer like engineering does. Managing conversations like “How much am I willing to re-touch a photo” is a subjective decision. Managing that kind of conversation is something that all photographers eventually have to tackle.
In the beginning of her journey, Kara set 90 day goals for her business. As a result of her consistency, it’s steadily growing. Recently, she did her first couple of paid shoots, and soon she's launching her first set of mini sessions. She believes that being clear about your plans can help lead to success.
“I think it's really important to write out your goals…Otherwise it's sort of this lofty thing that you dream about and it seems a little intangible. I think had I not been forced to do that, I wouldn't be where I'm at right now.”
Kara’s piece of advice for photographers who are brand new is, “just go out there and shoot!” For example, Kara did her first family shoot for free. After that, she ended up booking 3 clients because they loved the work that she did. Perfect is the enemy of good, and Kara's right: consistently showing up, regardless of the quality of your equipment or your level of experience, is a huge factor in eventual success.
Hey there! I'm Kara. I'm a Family Lifestyle Photographer in Maple Grove, MN. I first discovered my love for storytelling with writing. I started writing books around the time I learned to ride a bike! And I published my first book in 2012. In my books I talk about some pretty personal stuff, like my faith, my history of childhood abuse, and my experiences as a new mom. My love for stories has continued with photography. And just like my writing, I want my photos to be authentic, vulnerable, and filled with emotion.
I’ve tried very hard on numerous occasions to put myself in a box, but every time I attempt it I pull a muscle or run out of duct tape.
I love sugar, but I hate sugar-coating anything. I’m a social introvert. (I like people. I also like it when they go away.) I’m an empathetic engineer. A vegetarian who has no problem slaying some fish. I have a deep affection for pizza. I also run for fun. And I know what it's like to be a full-time working mom and a stir-crazy stay-at-home mom. Finally, I'm a rule-following lover of Jesus forever unlearning religion, always reminding myself that I can't earn grace.
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