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The social media landscape has changed so much since I began this blog in 2007. Though this site is the center of my communications for Kathryn Wagner Photography I felt it only fair to reach out and connect directly to you, dear reader via the social media channel of your choice. A full range of options to suit your social media preferences is available by clicking on my about.me profile below; I look forward to connecting with you!

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Why am I, Kathryn Wagner, a professional food & travel photographer?

 Kathryn Wagner professional food and travel photography of the US and Caribbean

The runway in St. Barthelemy, French West Indies.

On occasion I have been asked “why travel and food photography?”

The short answer: Photographing food and travel images for businesses, brands and magazines allows me to combine three things which I am passionate about: eating, exploring and recording amazing experiences to share with others.

The longer answer: The fact that I do this professionally means that I have followed these interests and passions with a zeal to rival that of a new camera owner out on their first day shooting. I absolutely love what I do and I feel lucky to share that enjoyment with my clients and their customers. Photography is not only the way in which I have navigated the world for the past ten years through Europe, North America and the Caribbean; it is the way in which I want others to share in an experience of the world with my images. My career goals extend far beyond stellar service of clients. Getting others excited about the amazing experiences my clients offer to their customers via visual expression of their story is the career goal which I strive for most.

I feel that the following definition sums up many of my feelings toword photography:

vocation |vōˈkā sh ən| noun

a strong feeling of suitability for a particular career or occupation : she felt a strongly about the her love of animals and the veterinary vocation.

• a person’s employment or main occupation, esp. regarded as particularly worthy and requiring great dedication : her vocation as a visual artist.

• a trade or profession.

ORIGIN late Middle English : from Old French, or from Latin vocatio(n-), from vocare ‘to call.’

Gather your inspiration…

“As great a picture can be made as one’s mental capacity–no greater. Art cannot be taught; it must be self-inspiration, though the imagination may be fired and the ambition and work directed by the advice and example of others.”Edward Weston

“It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.”Jean-Luc Godard

“Of course, there will always be those who look only at technique, who ask “how,” while others of a more curious nature will ask “why.” Personally, I have always preferred inspiration to information.”Man Ray

“Photographers should actively look for ideas, attitudes, images, influences from the very best photographers of all ages. You cannot learn in a vacuum. The whole history of photography is a free and open treasure trove of inspiration. It would be masochistic to deny its riches and usefulness.”David Hurn, On Being a Photographer : A Practical Guide by David Hurn, Bill Jay

I feel strongly that as a creative professional one must gather their inspirations as a means of professional and personal development. This is an ongoing task, which can be achieved through many different methods. I benefit most when attending a semi annual, or annual event, and my time is dedicated to a concentrated gathering of ideas. Read More

Define success.

If someone gave you thirty years and said “what would you like to do with yourself? “what would you like to learn?” and “with whom would you like to learn it?”

What would you say?

Only once you have answers to these questions can you begin to embark on your own path of success. Just ask a British Columbian.

What you consider success is as unique as the professional creative service which you offer, whether you are a photographer art director or graphic designer. Willingness to work hard is also very important and this is true no matter your age. Success is key to many people’s definition of happiness, though everyone’s definition and vision of success is as individual as their name.

Defining your vision of success is key to a self sustaining, satisfying, career. Since careers are essentially a path of professional learning and exploration, you could shape your definition of success as to what you would like to learn about in your 30+ years of work. For me and my business the clearer the vision of success, the easier it has been to pursue and target the individuals who are key to making that vision a reality.

Go on vacation to be more productive.

 (©2011 Kathryn Wagner Photography and Wagner Media Works LLC)

I have taken a break from blogging over the past two weeks to recharge and refresh. During this time I got to thinking how important time off is for an individual’s productivity level. When you work as a freelancer  it is easy to fall into the trap of constantly working on projects which not only create a living for oneself, but you are also passionate about. Work/Life balance is equally as critical for the professional creative as it is for the corporate employee. The biggest difference in these perspectives is that the professional creative can take time off at their discretion – a luxury which few creatives take advantage of.  Time off is not only essential, it can be instrumental in the creative process as you give your brain and body space to come up with ideas and inspiration.

When is the last time you took time off? If you are thinking ‘that’s impossible, my business stops when I stop!’ you might want to consider the following questions regarding how you manage your business and personal productivity:

Do you have professionals in place to help you with certain aspects of you business? Lawyers, accountants, marketing managers, are all at the heart of what can save a professional creative time and money, not to mention allow oneself to play to their individual strengths. I chose to take a break during the U.S. national tax deadline. This did not affect my business in the least because I recognize the importance of having this done by a professional at the earliest possible convenience.

Do you manage your correspondence, social media streams and telephone contact at regular intervals? This not only aids in the ease which one might get away from work, but also is conducive to effective time management on a daily basis within the workplace.

Do you set goals regularly, and then strive to meet them? Goal setting probably isn’t the first thing to come to mind when one thinks of time off, but proper goal setting is integral in measuring the personal progression you strive for in your creative career. If you do not feel as though you are progressing in your career how would you feel at liberty to get away and relax? Use tools to set yearly, quarterly, and weekly goals to hold yourself accountable and measure progress in your path to professional creative fulfillment.

On the Origin of Branding

“A brand name is more than a word. It is the beginning of a conversation.” Lexicon

“The word “brand” is derived from the Old Norse brandr meaning ‘to burn.’ It refers to the practice of producers burning their mark (brand) onto their products.” A good example of this is the practice of burning one’s brand into cattle as an identifier. This mark made on each animal created a distinction in product from one rancher’s stock to the next. The better a rancher did on the cattle in meat markets the more important his mark, or his branding is to the consumer and in turn to the rancher. A wonderful example of a photograph which depicts this, is the iconic image created by Sam Abell of Montana cowboys branding cattle.

I have recently gone through a “re-branding” myself, in partnership with the wonderful people at Agency Access. We have revised the colors and font used in all of my correspondence and revised the mark which accompanies my photographic work. I have enjoyed the process and it has caused me to think deeply about how I wish to graphically represent the effort, time and expense that goes into my business. (For more on Agency Access please see the wonderful interview of Keith Gentile written by Rob Haggart on his blog A Photo Editor.)

Branding has become key to me because I wish to visually stand behind the creative work which I do.  I am grateful that I now communicate that stance clearly with a graphic that helps clients easily recognize my business as one of quality and professionalism.

Art in Context IV



By Guest Blogger Rachel Swartz

The motif of the Ferris wheel is a lyrical, evocative one for artists. There is a multiplicity of metaphors – childlike joy and wonder, the circular pattern, an expression of the machine age’s majesty – that the technology conveys by its placement in a composition. See Robert Delaunay’s 1912 The Cardiff Team, an early cubist painting based on different newspaper clippings. Delaunay often reduced objects to discs, and does so with his Ferris wheel; it is stairlike and blocky, more utilitarian than the carnival ride most are used to. The Ferris wheel is framed by deconstructed billboards a team of colorful rugby players, who lift their victorious center to catch a ball and seem to hoist him onto the object, onto its endless cycle of wonder. As Delaunay’s work quietly reproached and celebrated the commercialism of the seaside billboards, Kathryn’s pictures the hotels along a beach. This 2006 piece has the billboard framing the commercial oasis of hotels, with the Ferris wheel lording over the entire scene. Like a friendly giant the Ferris wheel seems to reclaim the ocean and nature for good; it’s almost turning counterclockwise, drawing the beachgoers into its playful insides. The entire piece is nostalgic without being specific, universal in its meaning by capturing a particularly interesting moment in this beach (and Ferris wheel)’s life.

The Dramatized Image

Guest Blogger Evan Johnson

“Truth has to be made vivid, interesting; it has to be ‘dramatized’…”
– documentary filmmaker Trinh Minh-Ha

Minh-Ha speaks of the need to dramatize truth in documentary film. Having recently viewed her film Surname Viet, Given Name Nam (1989), I thought about the ways in which this dramatization of truth might apply to photography. In the film, Minh-Ha adapts a highly reflexive technique in telling the story of Vietnamese women before and after the war. She stages readings of first-person accounts with actresses and juxtaposes text and spoken word on the screen; all in order to reveal the constructive nature of the filmmaking process.

Although Kathryn’s new series “The Great Divide” is a far cry from post-modern feminist documentary, Minh-Ha’s claim has an interesting connection to Kathryn’s new work. The photographs in the series all engage in a “dramatization” of the truth. Through the Argus and pinhole camera hybrid, Kathryn transforms our everyday surroundings into something unexpected and appealing. The railing 9th Street bridge becomes a shadowy ladder. The awning over the Pavilion transforms into biomorphic shadow on the ground. The visual truth of our everyday experience is invigorated and transformed through the camera. It encourages us to question our aesthetic experience of our surroundings and to look for that “dramatic” element.

Art in Context III

By Guest Blogger Rachel Swartz

The tropics were a favored subject of the early moderns, a fascination that has spilled over into popular culture. The lush, exotic watery blues, sandy whites, rocky yellows and leafy greens of the Caribbean and Pacific islands were well-suited to the frenetic style of artists such as Paul Gauguin (see Tahitian Landscape, above). Kathryn’s 2006 work shares the same deep attraction to the rich sensuality of the islands, but her piece is unique in that it captures an image common in contemporary advertising photography, one that has come to represent relaxation, luxury, and attainable exoticism, but challenges this very motif through its compositional framing. The palm fronds gently caress the sand, rather than reaching towards the sky; there is no sign of industry, save for two boats and a windsurfing board that seem to suggest a provincial use of land rather than a commercial one. A creator is not wholly present, creating the sense that the viewer himself has stumbled upon this idyllic, quiet place devoid of human contamination, save for the lucky who stumble upon it.