There is an intriguing duality to KT Merry's approach to photography. Her work is thoughtfully crafted while remaining honest, strikingly beautiful while remaining humble, and she herself is artistically driven while remaining business minded. Her radiant, painterly images have helped earn KT a name as one of the top fine-art wedding photographers today!
Go behind the lens with KT as she shares her journey from fashion photographer to fine-art superstar to unstoppable altruist today in Richard's Photog Spotlight!
Richard: What first sparked your passion for photography?
KT Merry: I was very interested in art growing up: drawing, painting, pottery... but it was a photography class and a teacher that put me on the path to photography. My high school photography teacher entered me in a VICA state competition that led to the VICA National Competition, where I won a full scholarship to the Hallmark Institute of Photography in Massachusetts.
R: Making the leap from photography as a personal passion to a paying gig is a big one... how did you decide to pursue it as a career?
KM: Once I made the decision to attend photo school, it was definitely a career path. After school, I began working for fashion photographers as a freelance assistant in New York, Miami, and LA. That is when I learned about photography in the real world, and it's how I ultimately started paying bills through this industry. I did practically every position in the fashion industry: photo assisting, digital teching, assistant styling, and production. It really gave me a great perspective and foundation to launch my own shooting career.
R: When you aren't shooting for clients, what do you LOVE to photograph?
KM: I have been an equestrian and animal advocate & lover all my life. Photographing horses has been a personal project for me over the last 10 years, including a series on wild mustangs benefitting the American Wild Horse Campaign, which is available in my print shop.
More recently, I also launched Render Loyalty, in partnership with the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and Lewa Conservancy in Africa. This is a passion project focused on photographing threatened species and selling prints to support the work of these organizations who support and save them. These projects not only fuel me creatively but allow me to raise awareness for these animals I’m so passionate about.
R: How do you find a balance between being creatively fulfilled and being able to pay the bills?
KM: Ultimately, my photography is a business and having a thriving business allows me to continue to thrive as a creative. They are inexplicably intertwined, and both depend on one another. I find that I must give them both equal attention and care to ensure the balance remains and the the relationship stays healthy.
R: What is your favorite camera and why?
KM: I really love shooting the Contax 645. The world simply looks more beautiful through that Zeiss glass. As far as film stocks, I shoot Fuji 400h and Ilford for black & white.
R: What's your first memory of shooting with film? Why do you continue to shoot it as a pro?
KM: Ha! Well… Growing up, I had a point-and-shoot camera, and I did photo shoots constantly with my dog, cats, and even horses. I would dress them up and do little photo shoots. They were all really good sports, and so was my Mom for agreeing to process roll after roll for me.
R: Why is it important to have continuous communication with your lab?
KM: I really feel that Richard is an extension of my business, and over the years we have evolved so far past just processing film. I know that I can count on the team to support my business, and they truly go above and beyond (the same way I do for my clients). In order to deliver for my clients time and time again, I need a lab that supports my business.
R: Do you have any pre-shoot rituals?
KM: We call the night before a wedding a ‘school night’, which involves a healthy early dinner, Nuun tablets for hydration, and a good nights sleep. The next morning, if time allows, I like to get a quick workout in, as it makes you sharper for the entire day. Then we get a solid meal in. I know it sounds weird, but having a super-healthy and filling breakfast/lunch makes me feel more confident; kind of like heading into battle with a full tank. Once we start shooting, it’s go, go, go for hours with little water and usually limited bathroom or food breaks, so I liked to be fueled up.
R: Let’s play a game of “Either/Or”! Savory or sweet?
R: Chocolate or vanilla?
KM: Neither. Not really into sweets—I know, weird. Where is wine in this list?!?
R: Dogs or cats?
KM: Dogs, but I love cats too. All animals in fact!
R: Urban or rural?
R: Modern or vintage?
KM: Vintage. Preferably French.
R: Breakfast or Dinner?
KM: Both. I mentioned I like to eat, right?
R: Warm weather or cold weather?
KM: Warm! We are bicoastal for a reason.
R: Early bird or night owl?
KM: Early Bird gets the worm!
R: Crossword or Sudoku?
KM: Sadly neither. A good book..
R: Batman or Superman?
KM: Batman—cooler car.
R: Truth or dare?
R: If you weren't a photographer, what would you be when you grow up?
KM: A zoologist working with endangered species. Jane Goodall is forever my hero.
R: If you were a super hero, what would your super power be?
KM: Saving animals big and small.
R: What is your favorite word, and why?
KM: "Adventure"—it embodies everything I want out of this life.
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