Lifestyle Photographer South Carolina | Kate Benson for Beija Flor Jeans

A little under a year ago I joined A Wonderful Machine and have really enjoyed working with them. This summer I hired them to do some consulting work as well as a bit of a rebranding and have to say hiring that out has been a great decision. As photographers we get so emotionally close to our work that it’s hard to see just the image without the story of shooting it. This morning Wonderful Machine sent me a sweet note to let me know that they are using this shot from the current season of my shoot for Beija Flor Jeans as their homepage image for a bit. I’m pretty excited and flattered of course.

Beija Flor Jeans is one of my favorite clients, based in the Carolinas and I have had the blessing of getting to shoot a few seasons for them now. The shoots are always very diverse and fun. If you love amazing jeans, here is the link to their website: https://www.beijaflorjeans.com and if you haven’t checked it out, Wonderful Machine is pretty cool as well: https://wonderfulmachine.com

 

Abstract Fine Art Photography | Kate Benson

Bellow are three different collections of my fine art photography work. All of these are created in camera. My fine art photography is very abstract. I shoot so much literal work that when I create art photography, embrace the imagination. These collections are about finding your own story for what you view. The experience of looking at the images and imagining what they are and how they were created is as important as the strong compositions, colors and contrasts that are apparent from first viewing. These are all small samples of larger projects. More images are available on request from any of the three series.

Contact Studio@KateBenson.com for requests and commissions

Charleston Fashion and Portrait Photographer | Kate Benson | Meet Lily

If you follow my Instagram, you’ve likely already seen this new face on my feed over the last week. If you don’t follow me, what’s taking you so long? https://www.instagram.com/katebensonphotography/

Lily contact me a few weeks ago and had a pretty cool back story. About a year ago she was approached by two ladies (I bet I could guess who) from a local modeling agency DirectionsUSA and they asked her 3 questions, “how old are you? How tall are you? When are your braces coming off?” The answers were 15 (at the time), 5’8″, and in a year. Turns out, Lily had just had her braces removed when she called me. She needed a model test shoot and needed it ASAP. In addition to sending her images off to the agency, she needed to send them to Charleston Fashion Week for consideration for the upcoming event.

Shooting a 16 year old is a fun change for me, as is a first time model. There is something really amazing about fearless way a model will try different poses and expressions when they haven’t already learned what their looks are. Lily brought so much more character and fun to the shoot than I was every expecting. In this little series for example:

 

We shot these in the marsh in Mount Pleasant behind my friends house so for part of this shoot, we had an audience watching. Let me just add, in addition to being a new model, to have to model in front of strangers adds to the challenge. But she killed it. I intentionally started shooting her later in the day in studio so we could move out to the locations once the light was where it needed to be. With the help of my new intern Chelsea who was assisting this day, we didn’t spend more than an hour total on the marsh. I wanted to get a variety of locations in before the sunset (which is about 6:30pm now).

So we wrapped up the marsh and ran off to the beach racing the sun, because, did I mention, I have a thing about using natural light so we were going to be done no matter what once the sun was gone. We did two looks there, a swimwear look and another younger look.

 

Our last look was inspired by some beautiful erosion at Breaches Inlet on Sullivans Island. That and the fun beanie Lily had brought. As the last of the sunlight slipped away behind the island, we quickly shot one last round of images.

These had the most amazing Maxfield Parrish feel to them (one of my favorite painters of all time). I loved them so much I am pretty excited to get back out there and shoot again. Lily as of this shoot, was unsigned and starting to look for agencies. I have no doubt that she’ll find one and have many, many more amazing shoots. As for me, I hope to get another chance to photograph her soon! Extra thanks to Chris, Lily’s mom for being such an awesome assistant on set as well as to Chelsea for all the computer/lens/reflector wrangling, Phil and Sandi for letting us invade their backyard and always offering me their home as a location (again), and Sam for watching Moose extra late that night and making sure there were some takeout tacos for me when I got home. He knows the way to my heart!

Starting over, sort of. | Charleston, SC Photographer, whhhhaattt?

Yup. Charleston. South Carolina. Funny story about this, I went to a psychic years and years ago (Okay, I LOVE that kind of thing, now you know I’m a nerd too). I wanted to get out of Miami so badly it hurt. She told me that it would happen and when it did I was going to move somewhere I never in a million years would decide to move. She said when I visited this place, Sam and I would both just know it was where we were supposed to be. That was like, 6 years ago. 6 YEARS. So she was completely right. No offense, but I’m a Yankee girl from NH who moved to the capital of Latin America (Miami, hello) for 9 years. Let’s just say, I didn’t expect our politics to match and that people would like this left wing, immigrant lover, civil rights supporter who can’t and won’t keep her mouth shut about things she believes in. But here we are. And we are so head over heels in love with this place.
Now you also know why I’ve been completely silent on the blog front for so many months. Last summer, work was going crazy. I was so busy that my team of girls and I were all pushing 40+ hours a week to complete all the projects coming in. Then in October, Sam go the offer we couldn’t refuse. Not only was it a great company asking him to come, but they flew me out with him for the interview so I could see Charleston, and boom, fireworks. We were smitten. So he had to start by the end of the month. That gave us about 3 weeks to pack our house, find a new home, and move. Did I mention this is all with a toddler running around?

With the help of the most amazing girls in the world (who I miss everyday), we made it here. The next few months became a spiral of flights back and forth from Miami, unpacking and house hunting, finding childcare and learning our way around, making friends, hosting visitors, and working like crazy. To pretend this has calmed down is a lie. It’s still a whirlwind of chaos. But I do have some organization to it. I have a space here I shoot in. It’s not my ideal studio yet so once we do buy a house I can start searching for my studio. I kept my Miami studio (well, Fort Lauderdale one) and so when I fly back I have that space for shooting which is great. Turns out Jetblue has just started direct flights from Charleston to Fort Lauderdale, which are about 1.5 hours long, how great is that! So it’s let me keep running the business in Miami that I need to and still do smaller jobs here. Most clients are shipping me everything unless it is on model and then I have been flying down. It is working out incredibly well.

So there you have it. The reason I’m off the grid for so long and you aren’t seeing me around anywhere. For all my clients, thank you for still working with me even though it is a little more production now to get me there! I love you all so much!! And of course, if anyone fancies a trip to Charleston, you are always welcome! And I’m not really starting over because I am still in South Florida, I’m just ALSO in Charleston now. 😉

With that, I’ll show a few personal shots (aka, cell phone, facebook captures) of life here so far, so I can share how amazing it has already been!

How to run a business and start a family | Part 1

I have a confession. I have been very, very busy this year. On top of already this being one of my busiest business years to date, I went and became a mom back in March.
I have a second confession, many of my clients didn’t know I was pregnant or that I had a baby.

First, let me say, this is a subject that I’m sure will hit home to a lot of my readers. I’m a 30 something year old woman, who has been nurturing her own business for about 8 years or so now (plus 1+ year of interning and 4 years of college for photography at RISD). So it was not lightly that I decided to start a family. It seems like my path is crossing with a lot of women who either own their own businesses or have worked their tail off to start a business who are around my age and facing this question: do I want to have kids? That question is quickly followed by the next one, what are the sacrifices of starting a family? And of course, that gets more specific with wondering, is it even possible to keep my career on course and become a parent?

The answers won’t be the same for everyone. But for me, I had no intention of letting my business get off track because I was going to start a family. Upon the suggestion of one of these woman whose path has crossed mine, I am going to write a little bit about how I made this transition work and how I was able to meet all my clients needs during this time.

So this first post is about making that choice to become a parent. Not everyone has the luxury of getting to make that choice and so already you are lucky.

Like many of my peers, I was very scared to start a family, for lots of reasons. What was going to happen to my body/career/marriage/etc?

The fear of what starting a family would do to my marriage caused my husband and I had some very intense conversations. These were no holds bar honest conversations. In these talks, we confessed what we both wanted our marriage to be like and where it currently fell short of that and what we needed to make sure we didn’t let go of when a baby arrived. We talked about “what if” situations. We discussed our peers who had children and the strains we saw them going through and mapped out strategies if we found ourselves in the same boat. Naturally, so much of what we talked about didn’t come true for us or did but in a way we never predicted. But being able to have already talked about stresses in a “what if” scenario took some of the taboo out of discussions when the situations were taking place.

Please don’t judge me because I know it is a vanity, but I didn’t want to loose my body to a child. This was a huge source of anxiety for me. Throughout my whole pregnancy it was a stress. I’ve always been in good shape and in the last 5-10 years put a lot of effort into eating right and being an athlete in my free time (My husband and I paddle, Dragon boats/OC/Sup, anything you can think of). I was terrified that I would have a baby and never get back into my shape and it would cause stresses on me and my marriage. So, just like above, my husband and I talked about it. A lot! I worked out until I really couldn’t, whatever I could do (my Dr said no to continuing to do crossfit, which now I think I might have been able to do actually). I ate as right as I could (first trimester all bets were off, my nausea decided I was going to eat a lot of Mac-N-Cheese with chicken nuggets -seriously, like in 3rd grade again). What really helped was acknowledging that my husband loved me, he liked me being in shape but loved me and that wasn’t going to change with the transitions my body went through. I picked a good man to marry, one who I knew wasn’t in it for looks. So that helped. And as a side note, if your with a guy who you feel like would leave you if you weren’t smoking hot anymore, maybe you should rethink that relationship because we are all going to get old one day and no matter what you do, gravity is going to get you.

Now the golden ticket: career. I decided to keep quiet about expecting to all of my clients. I let them ask me about it when I was showing enough that they were curious. I decided that there was a line between personal and professional life and to be honest, I was intimidated that my clients might run to someone else. So I knew that meant I had to make sure their photo needs were met EXACTLY as they were when I wasn’t pregnant.

That included a plan for going into labor during a shoot. I trained and trained and trained an amazing assistant of mine to do anything and everything I could so if I ended up in the hospital or on bed rest my business could still run. Picking the right person is key in this. For me, she had to be as attentive to detail as I am, friendly, professional, and okay with me staring over her shoulder commenting on her every move. I also had to trust her immensely. Essentially I knew I wasn’t going to get any downtime pre baby/labor/post baby so I had someone else to be there just in case I was too weak or physically unable to do my shooting so my clients wouldn’t have their images or timelines compromised. Luckily, I didn’t need my assistant to do too much when the time did come. But I had to be incredibly prepared. The total unexpected upside of this was that after I hired my childcare and found myself back in the swing of things I had the most amazing assistant ever! She was trained to be my hands and so I could trust her to do every light setup perfectly, know how to style everything I work with, understand the timelines needed (there were nights that she pulled all nighters to get my stack focus images ready so I had a file to work on) and always have a positive attitude.

Interview the crap out of this person. And pay them well. This was a cost of my business continuing to run so even if I broke even for a while because I had her helping me it was worth not loosing accounts/clients over. Be ready for complications because other people will notice your amazing assistant and offer them work as well. I was lucky that the clients that did that were super sweet people and we were able to work something out where my assistant could help them and me.

This fear, of how a baby would affect my business was a huge roadblock for me when I thought about starting a family. Even when I had been training and teaching my assistant it wasn’t until my clients could see her work and were comforted that as a team we were producing images as consistent and dead on as always, that my mind was at ease. Hopefully some of these confessions and tips help you put your mind at ease too. It really can be done and things will be okay. I’ll keep posting (as much as I can because having a baby does cut way back on my blogging time) more about how I am working through this transition and how it actually, positively has continued to affect my business.

 

 

Dear other photographer named Kate Benson… thank you for not being a crazy person.

No seriously, thank you. Because as much as it sucks to have another photographer with the same name as me (we’ll both agree it kinda sucks), it doesn’t suck as much as it could. I appreciate that you are a normal person, not a crazy person. I count myself lucky that your working in a different genre than I am, living in a different part of this country, and I’m really lucky you are a great photographer so when we are confused for each other at least no one is walking away. So for the times I’ve gotten upset about the mixups that have happened. I apologize. You are awesome. You are nice. Thank you for that.
Here is a string of emails I received this week from a photographer who shares the name as another photographer. I think he wanted me to take down a link I have that goes to the other guy. But the other guy is a great photographer, and not at all crazy, so I am not taking the link down (besides, bullying is just wrong)… but here’s the conversation. It started last weekend and just in time for this blog post he sent the last one. Hope it gives you a good laugh this Friday! I took out the name of the photographer, but see if you can guess who it is…

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