Image by Mary Kate McKenna Photography

Interview: Photographer Mary Kate McKenna

Mary Kate McKenna by Jaime Windon

Mary Kate McKenna by Jaime Windon

this interview series is so much fun for me and this week i’m excited to introduce you to mary kate mckenna. i’ve followed mary kate’s tweets for quite a while now and i just love hearing about her shoots – weddings, kids, travel. she always seems to have a full load and handles it with grace and charm. those characteristics come through in her images and fortunately, some of mary kate’s stunning images from burma also appear in my upcoming book, love your photos.
enjoy this interview – here are some additional ways you can find mary kate and her beautiful photography.

JC:  Do you have a mission as a photographer?
MKM:  YES!  My mantra is, “Live The Life You Love.”  I want to live the life I love and I want to show others living the life they love, too.


JC:  Describe your photographic style or philosophy.

MKM:  I try to photograph people in a natural, comfortable and real way.  I try to stick with natural light when possible and photograph people in places they love and feel comfortable in.
Image by Mary Kate McKenna Photography

Image by Mary Kate McKenna Photography

JC:  What are you working on these days?

MKM:  So many projects going on!  I am currently trying to find my focus now, actually.  I love so many different aspects of photography, and I’m trying to narrow down my work to what I love best.  The hard part for me is figuring that out.  I do such a mix right now- everything from weddings to magazine work to events to corporate.  Right now I’m really enjoying my exploration of photographing businesses in a non-business-ey way  – showing off their personalities and their stores.  So, somehow, I need to gain a focus area… wish me luck!
Image by Mary Kate McKenna Photography

Image by Mary Kate McKenna Photography

JC:  What do you love most about today’s technology? (from photographic equipment to on-line tools, social media, etc) How have or haven’t you taken advantage of it?

MKM:  First things first, digital cameras have changed everything for me.  I can get my work back to my clients within hours if they are on a tight deadline.  Images can be uploaded and downloaded to people across the country.  In many ways this has made my job more demanding, but also oh-so-convenient.  My newest set of cameras and lenses has changed how I photograph.  With my Canon 5D Mark II, I can basically shoot in the dark without flash- I can set a totally different tone with my images when shooting at dusk, and I love it.

But more than my cameras or equipment, social media has changed my business.  95% of my clients who didn’t find me through word of mouth find me online.  I am an active blogger, Twitterer and Facebooker- those three things have grown my business exponentially.  I can post sneak peeks and let couples see some images before they even leave on their honeymoon.  I can send a tweet out for a 2nd shooter and get someone within an hour.  I get thousands of eyes peeking at my images on Facebook and get great feedback.

I have fully embraced the title of a social media junkie.  It’s been amazing way to grow my business with these tools, and the greatest part is the only thing they cost you is your time.  Investing some time in learning the ins and outs of social media is a fantastic way to take your business to the next level.

Image by Mary Kate McKenna Photography

Image by Mary Kate McKenna Photography

JC:  What do you dislike most about today’s technology? Has it presented you with any challenges?

MKM:  Stealing.  My work is stolen pretty often, usually by clients who mean no harm (uploading their photos to Snapfish, trying to photoshop images, etc.) or by “photographers” trying to get a nice portfolio.  In this digital world, it’s so easy to share images.  While I use this to my advantage, I am sometimes taken advantage of, too.  It’s very easy to pull an image off a website and call it your own or to put it with a blog article and not credit the photographer.

As an artist and a business owner, I try to educate my clients on the do’s and don’ts, but there will always be people who don’t listen.

Image by Mary Kate McKenna Photography

Image by Mary Kate McKenna Photography

JC:  Who are your inspirations?

MKM:  I am inspired by passion.  I love working with people who have a passion for something- their family, their work, their goals or hobbies.  Being around people who are passionate really revvs me up and makes me more creative.  I am inspired by kids and their happiness and willingness to forgive and move on.  I am inspired by friends and family who let go of desk jobs to do something they really love.  I really enjoy capturing passion in my images.

Image by Mary Kate McKenna Photography

Image by Mary Kate McKenna Photography

JC:  Of all the gear you’ve ever used, what’s your favorite?

MKM:  I just adore my Canon 5D Mark II paired with my 85/1.2.  It’s just so yummy.

JC:  What are your aspirations? Are there things, with regard to photography, that you haven’t done yet that you’d like to?

MKM:  I love traveling and photographing social issues.  While I’ve been able to do this a bit (Zambia’s AIDS plight, Brazil’s land reform, Thailand’s immigrants, and Burma’s democracy movement) I want to do more.  And I want to do more local things.  I get to do quite a bit of non-profit work, but I want to do more locally and take it further.

Burma by Mary Kate McKenna Photography

Burma by Mary Kate McKenna Photography

JC:  Finally, why do you love photography?


I love that I can bring joy to people.
I love that I can help groups raise awareness and money for their causes.
I love that I can freeze a moment in time for a family that they can always look back on.
I love that it’s something I can do by myself or with others.
I love that photography has taken me across the world to see so many amazing things and meet incredible people.
I love that photography has let me live the life I love- a flexible schedule, where I can work from home or abroad, and share in the lives of others.

Image by Mary Kate McKenna Photography

Image by Mary Kate McKenna Photography

Mary Kate’s work also appears in my upcoming book, “Love Your Photos” along with other inspiring photographers. Sign up for my mailing list so you see all future interviews and announcements about the book. Don’t be scared – there will be no spam – we’ll just have some fun!

This entry was published on September 19, 2010 at 6:43 pm. It’s filed under Photographer Interview and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

3 thoughts on “Interview: Photographer Mary Kate McKenna

  1. Very nice work, Mary! The 85mm L is indeed a “yummy” lens. 🙂

  2. I used to work with MK so I’m a huge fan of the girl. She is indeed the queen of social media. I think being outgoing and a bit goofy is key to her success.

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