Photographer Interview with Kristina Young!

I am so excited for this – an interview with my fabulous friend Kristina of Kristina Young Photography!

Kristina ( not only one of my favorite photographers but also a dear friend of mine. Her work, as well as her humor and genuine personality are constant inspirations to me, and I am so happy to be able to interview her here for my blog readers! If any of you are in the Boston or Hamptons area you are so lucky to have her!

Check out her BEAUTIFUL website at
And her fantastic blog at

So first up Kristina, where is home for you?

Boston, MA

And what is next up on your photographic list to conquer?
Really growing my business in a very smart way. January 1 really started my first month in business not being also employed by IBM so ensuring I am successful is the biggest item on the list! In the last three weeks I’ve really scrutinized my numbers and put my plan in place for this year. It’s an eye opener for me because I know what my investments must be in order to grow, but it’s the first time I am working without the cushion of another salary. Expense management will be key, but also just being way more responsive to my clients, now that they can be my 100% focus, and in general I’d like to continue to hone my skills, come up with new ideas for shooting that are in line with my overall brand.

I am also working on some workshops and education with a partner, we’ll see where that takes us.

What’s something you can’t live without?
My family. My girlfriends. And coffee. All in massive doses.

What is your favorite city in the world and why?
Boston. It’s just home. There are other really magical places in the world…but Boston just feels right to me and I can manage it so well. I know where all the secret parking spaces are. I’ve hung out at so many of the bars. I’ve lived in Beacon Hill, the North End, Charlestown and Brighton. I have a lot of clients in the South End, and the restaurants there rock, so if I was ever to move back, that’s probably where I’d want to settle. Owen and I were married at The State Room and that view just sums up everything I love.

What influences and inspires you?
Where I live right now is a great source of ideas… Fall in my town (just north of Boston) is simply amazing… there are fields, hills, meadows, horse farms, and the ocean close by… the leaves turn, the afternoon light is just so yummy… I love light, I usually look up at the sky to see what it’s doing and where the sun is casting and the shadows fall. I can drive down the highway past a patch of tall grasses and if they light is right I think “Oh my gosh, where do I pull over and how would we park to get everyone here?” and then I plan out how I’d shoot it and how no one would know it was the highway… and before I know it I’ve missed my exit!

How do you manage to capture such amazing candid moments?
I think I am pretty real. I just sort of am who I am whether it be kids or adults or babies or pets. I am frank, down to earth, and I truly fall in love with my clients while I am with them… they amaze me and inspire me. So I think those elements, when pulled together, allow people to drop whatever pretenses or anxiety they might have being in front of the camera and so natural interaction occurs. I also shoot a lot while I am talking (which is nonstop!), planned and unplanned, and those in between shots can really be winners. That said, I shoot very intentionally and if it’s not happening, it’s not happening… and I would rather walk away then overshoot or force a image.

Describe what black and white photography means to you?
Timeless, moody, emotional, clean. Black and white. From a technical perspective, nothing makes me cringe more than a photo that is just converted greyscale and there are muddy grey skin tones. Black and white conversions are an art… I am fanatical about them. I print on True B&W Paper from Millers so that they are perfection. For a consumer lab, MPIX provides a beautiful paper that will leave other consumer labs in the dust.

What are your favorite subjects to photograph?
Families. Ask me a few years ago and I would have said just “kids” (they are easier, believe it or not). Families require studying, there are a lot more elements to control, mom looking good has to be a big priority. My moms are beautiful, especially when they are just themselves and sometimes it takes them seeing a photograph to really believe in that. I love catching interaction of families because it really is a rarity that a family can have an entire series of images that capture a sliver of their life together. I would love to get into more “Day in the Life” sessions where I spend more than just an hour with a family doing something meaningful that they love. Ironically, I have very few images of my own family all together, so that’s the plan for early summer I think.

What is in your camera bag?
Canon 5DMK2, 24-70 2.8L, 85MM 1.8 A rented 135L that hopefully will be mine in the near future (as well as a 100mm macro). I am considering making a move to all primes this year (I can spend money really well!). Scandisk Extreme 4 8GB & 16GB cards. Harry the hairy finger monster (that sounds dirty, it’s not). Starbucks mints. Bottled water. Spare contact lenses. Lip gloss. Unpaid parking tickets.

Your best advice for photographers (or anyone) thinking of making their passion a career?
It takes a very long time to really get it right. If you are an enthusiast, enjoy it, learn all you can without the pressure of being in business, shoot for fun, shoot for free. But if you are going to be “in business,” understand that there is just so much to it. Get off “auto” modes. Learn how to shoot on full manual mode with natural light. Understand your histogram, what it means from a color and exposure perspective. Learn about color. Learn how to make your images as good in print as they are on your screen. Learn about light. Learn about metering. Learn how to get it right IN CAMERA. Photoshop should really just be for slight fine-tuning, not for fixing exposure, composition or corrections that should have been done while shooting. And then learn about costs, marketing and brand. Because doing this business right can be incredibly expensive and the faster you jump into it, the more mistakes you make and the more time and money it costs you. And your brand has to be authentically you or it will fail. On the flip side, all those mistakes help you learn and evolve and grow. But really only do it if it brings you true happiness.

Describe a day in your life?
Every day starts the exact same. Christofer gets out of bed, carefully closes his door behind him, then drags all his “sleeping stuff” (maybe his stuffed kitty, his Hess truck, or sometimes like seven different Thomas trains) and he comes up to the side of the bed and says “mom, dad, can you snuggle with me?” and in he crawls and we watch Curious George for a while. Shortly after, my daughter starts howling for us to set her free from her crib… she’s sort of becoming a wild one, that Janey-girl, so when she’s up, we’re all up (although Owen would say “you’re not up, I am up” — I love sleep!). Really, that is the only important part of the day. The rest is proofing, planning sessions, trying to follow up with clients, working on my site/blog/pricing/marketing. Now that I have time, I do go to the gym 3-4 times a week. I also wind down with my husband or girlfriends. Love ending the day at someone’s house, 5-10 kids running around like crazy, having a good glass of wine and catching up. I am truly blessed to have the girlies in my life that I do. So those elements in my day really remind me how simple life is and how lucky I am.

Wow. I really can talk forever. I just updated my web site with fresh images from 2009… so most of my favorites are on there. But here are a few that I can tell a story about…

This was from a session in September 2008. It was one of my first real sessions after my maternity leave when I decided I’d shoot as much as I could and try to make a go of it. I shot the entire session in 40 minutes and proofed it in about the same amount of time. Every single thing about the session was perfect. The subjects, the light, the exposure, the processing. This image summed up everything I wanted my style to be and made me say “I can do this.”

I love this as a beach shot because it’s totally about the kids, but you can tell exactly what they’ve been up to.

This was from a session that was supposed to be 20-30 minutes but towards the end, we moved up to the sledding hill here in town and the clouds broke and this is what we got. I also feel a ton of love when I look at this, a lot of connection. We also bartered out images for firewood and so Heather has her wall display and we have a toasty warm house!

End of session, he just wanted to be an airplane buzzing down the hill. I love him not looking at me.

This baby was so waited for and so wanted and I really feel like it’s being blessed in this image.

She is so gorgeous and I can only imagine what he’s said to her to elicit this response.

Janey is just obsessed with him. She’s feeling so important because she’s got the wheel, but so needs to check in on how he’s feeling. She watches out the window at daycare for him too. Love.

There are no words. It makes my heart hurt and sing all at the same time.

Thanks so much Kristina!!! Gorgeous work! I know this will be an incredible year for you, and I cant wait to see what you do next!

  1. Robin says:

    i love both of you so much.
    this was fun.
    thanks shey, thanks kristina.

  2. crista says:

    you girls are both amazing. awesome interview, and awesome images!

  3. Awesome interview, I love Kristina’s work!

  4. Lyssa says:

    Wow, Shey. You continue to amaze and awe me. The photographer you profiled is amazing. I am so blown away by what you are doing. You are so talented and I am so proud to say you are my sister. Love you so much and you are incredible at what you do. Keep at it preggers!

  5. Bernadette says:

    Amazing interview; truly talented, both of you! Thank you so much for sharing

  6. Lina says:

    I love her work, she is really great! It was interesting to read those answers, fun!

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