Richard Photo Lab

Richard's Photographer Spotlight: Kayla Barker

The principles and elements of design work are the same no matter what medium you're using. So, when Kayla Barker decided to leave her career in graphic design, it was a natural transition from creating beauty with a computer to creating beauty with a camera. Now, as an esteemed fine art wedding & portrait photographer, Kayla travels the world preserving stories of warm light and even warmer love.

Kayla's award-winning work has been published everywhere from Magnolia Rouge to Martha Stewart to Huffington Post, and it's earned her spots in The Knot Hall of Fame, Style Me Pretty’s Destination Little Black Book, and PDN’s TopKnots. She's also in her third year of hosting the Kayla Barker Workshop, providing an awesome opportunity for other photographers to immerse themselves in a fine-art atmosphere and grow professionally.

Today in Richard Photo Lab's Photog Spotlight, Kayla is sharing how "Facebook stalking" fits into her workflow, her optimistic spin on the not-so-ideal client, and how she uses her imagery to create multimedia art!

Richard: What first sparked your passion for photography?

Kayla Barker: I remember getting an Advantix APS film camera for Christmas one year when I was young, and I just loved taking photos and selecting the different image sizes for my pictures. Dropping off my film at the grocery store (yikes!) and picking up the prints was such a thrill for me! I loved taking photos of my family, friends, and life events; I would always order duplicate or triple prints so I could hand them out.

At 15, I bought my first SLR Canon 35mm camera and 50mm lens, which I shot for several years until consumer digital SLR cameras became available. I saved up and bought one of those first digital Canon SLR cameras and shot my first wedding with it 10 years ago!

Image by Kayla Barker

R: Making the leap from photography as a personal passion to a paying gig is a big oneŠ... how did you decide to pursue it as a career?

KB: Because I had this love of photography and was always documenting events, my close friends started asking me to photograph them. Eventually, several of them asked me to shoot their weddings. I got married in 2008, when Style Me Pretty and wedding blogs were really young, and I just couldn’t stop looking at wedding photography. I had my degree in graphic design and had quit my corporate design job and was freelancing at the time. Adding in photography to my business seemed like a good idea, and it really took off fast! By 2013, I had transitioned into photography full time.

R: When you aren't shooting for clients, what do you LOVE to photograph?

KB: I always love shooting women and creating conceptual shoots where I can try different cameras or shooting techniques. I also LOVE traveling and I shoot a lot when I travel to new places. A lot of my personal work I shoot with a series in mind that I can use in my encaustic wax artwork.

Image by Kayla Barker

R: How do you find a balance between being creatively fulfilled and being able to pay the bills?

KB: It is always a balance you have to work on. Not every client I get is my “ideal client,” but those jobs help me pay the bills. And that gives me time to work on my art and the personal projects that inspire me. I create encaustic wax art, which is an ancient form of painting and image preservation. I use this mixture of melted beeswax and tree resin to encapsulate my photos, add texture, and another dimension to them. There is something that is so satisfying to me about doing something hands-on with my photographs.

R: What is your favorite camera and why?

KB: I, of course, love shooting with the Contax 645 for my client work. For my personal work, I play more with my Polaroid land cameras, and I am pretty obsessed with my little plastic Holga. My husband, Clint, gets mad at me because I like to travel with and shoot way too many cameras, but I just love them all!

Image by Kayla Barker

R: Why do you continue to shoot it as a pro?

KB: Like I mentioned earlier, shooting that point and shoot film camera when I was young was such a thrill for me and I still LOVE that moment when you get your scans back from your lab and you can see what you captured. Shooting film really helps me to focus more on what I am creating, what is going on around me, and pushes me to become better at my craft. And of course, the tones and depth of film are so addicting!

R: Why is it important to have continuous communication with your lab?

KB: Your lab is an extension of your brand and your imagery. They are helping you create your art, and it is so important to be working together towards the vision you have. They can also help you solve problems and offer advice. Richard Photo Lab has totally helped me become a stronger film photographer!

Image by Kayla Barker

R: Do you have any pre-shoot rituals?

KB: I love to do as much researching on the client as I can (aka Facebook stalking), so I can connect and create better images for them. I also look at inspiration outside of the wedding photography world (art, fashion, music, etc). And, I totally listen to electronic dance music to get me pumped up!

R: Let’s play a game of “Either/Or”! Savory or sweet?

KB: Sweet

R: Chocolate or vanilla?

KB: Chocolate

R: Dogs or cats?

KB: Dogs (we have three rescue pups!)

R: Urban or rural?

KB: Urban

R: Modern or vintage?

KB: Modern

R: Breakfast or Dinner?

KB: Breakfast

R: Warm weather or cold weather?

KB: Warm

R: Early bird or night owl?

KB: Night owl

R: Crossword or Sudoku?

KB: Sudoku

R: Batman or Superman?

KB: Batman

R: Truth or dare?

KB: Truth

Image by Kayla Barker

R: If you weren't a photographer, what would you be when you grow up?

KB: I can’t imagine not ever being a photographer, but being an artist or painter and creating personal work full time would be amazing. If I could sing better, I would totally love to sing and dance!

R: If you were a super hero, what would your super power be?

KB: Stopping time so I can have more of it!

R:What is your favorite word, and why?

KB: "Ya’ll," because I am from Texas!