Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with Katonah-based photographer Jamie Kilgore, as part four of my series profiling local event industry professionals hit hard by the current public health crisis. Always optimistic and personable, Jamie opened up about her craft and the wacky things she does to capture the winning shot. Although her business is hurting right now, she is committed to helping those in her community by donating all proceeds from her family “Porch Portraits” efforts to the Community Center of Northern Westchester. Read on to find out more.
On “Porch Portraits”
COVID-19 has brought Jamie’s active business almost entirely to a standstill. While some of her colleagues are doing headshot sessions via Zoom, or pivoting to product photography assignments, Jamie’s more “human connection” style makes this more challenging. She recently launched “Porch Portraits,” which has her photographing families from an appropriate social distance on their front porch. The families make a donation, which Jamie sends in full to the Community Center of Northern Westchester, to help local families impacted by COVID-19. In exchange for their donation the families receive a beautiful family portrait via digital download. For more information, please visit https://bit.ly/JKporch.
On Starting Out
After getting her degree in economics, Jamie worked for many years selling advertising for magazines, including Architectural Digest and National Geographic. After studying at the International Center of Photography, she decided to pursue a career in photography. “After I hung my framed portraits at Starbucks in Chappaqua my business really took off,” she said. “This year I will be celebrating my 20th year in business.”
On Her Love For Children
Jamie specializes in black and white children’s portraiture. Jamie has always had a soft spot and an immediate connection with children. “There’s nothing I love more than getting on their level and really talking to them,” she shared. “People tell me I have the gift of drawing kids out, getting them to naturally relax and show me who they really are.” She has learned that doing her homework upfront makes a huge difference. Before any portrait session Jamie has a consultation to acquaint herself with the family; this gives her an opportunity to ask a series of questions about their children ranging from basic information to their favorite teachers, friends and what makes them tick. “I always wear my photography vest with lots of pockets and kids are surprised by what comes out of my pockets. It could be a wig, Superman, Batman, or Thomas the Tank. Whatever they’re interested in I use to engage them to interact with me, enabling me to get those natural shots.” Jamie remembers one of her kookier sessions with a young child who loved dogs. Jamie pretended to eat a dog biscuit while her actual dogs climbed all over her. Somehow, she managed to do all of this while holding her camera and capturing the child’s true delight.
On Event Photography
There’s not one type of event Jamie enjoys shooting most; rather it’s the relationship-based shots she prioritizes. When she’s shooting an event she always has an assistant/second photographer with her to help handle the group photos so that she can focus on capturing the more intimate moments that showcase the interpersonal relationships. At Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, for example, Jamie loves to show all the emotions the child is experiencing throughout the celebration, especially through his/her connections with family and friends. She got teary-eyed, reflecting, “Bar and Bat Mitzvahs are all about the child. It’s such a special thing.”
On Capturing Emotion
“I’m taking pictures other people don’t take,” she said. “I’m more about watching and observing than telling someone to look at the camera.” By taking pictures that aren’t expected, she’s able to capture the full range of her subjects’ emotions. “I have my shot list, but it’s those unexpected and unplanned moments I capture that make my job special. Grandma looking at her grandson, a rising senior thinking about her tie-breaking goal, two brothers looking at their baby sister with uncertainty; that type of thing.”
On The Pandemic
While on “pause,” she’s busy increasing her social media presence (check her out on Instagram and Facebook) and catching up on other marketing and administrative activities. She’s also running a Mother’s Day promotion where people can buy gift cards for future photo sessions and 20% will go to the Community Center of Northern Westchester. For more information, please visit https://bit.ly/jamiekilgoremd.
Like most artists, Jamie can’t wait to get back to honing her craft. She’s also looking forward to returning to some of the newer initiatives she’d been hosting pre-pandemic, like Headshot Happy Hour (updating your headshot in a fun environment at her studio in Bedford Hills). But until then, she’s spending time with her family, surrounded by the work that continuously provides her with inspiration.
Jamie Kilgore Photography, LLC is located at 7 Hill Street, Bedford Hills, NY and can be reached at 914-232-3642 or email@example.com, www.jamiekilgore.com or www.jamiekilgoreheadshots.com.