Photographer Spotlight: KT Merry

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Meet KT Merry

KT was born in Mammoth Lakes, California, raised in the mountains and then Japan as her Dad was in the Marine Corps. Later, she went to high school in a small town in Northern Nevada and spent her summers working on a cattle ranch as a wrangler. Animals were her first love and art was her second. In her junior year of high school, KT’s photography teacher invited her to a photography competition in Las Vegas, NV held by the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America (VICA). She won at the state level and at the national competition in Kansas, she was runner up and secured two full scholarships to photography school. This placed her on the path to become a photographer.

First, Congratulations on being hired to cover Kate Upton and Justin Verlander’s wedding! Your stunning images were featured in People Magazine and Vogue…Wow! How did you land that amazing job and what was your overall experience?

Thank you so much! I would love to share more about this incredible opportunity, however I did sign an NDA and I’m afraid I’m not at liberty to share more. I can say that it was an incredible experience and honor to document.

I completely understand. So, KT… let me ask you the million dollar question, why photography? … What ignited your passion?

I have always loved all forms of art; painting, drawing, pottery, etc. However, I loved taking photos and created countless albums of them growing up. I started photographing my pets and creating portraits of them. It was through my high school photography class that I began to dive deeper into the medium and after winning a scholarship to photo school I was put on the photography path.

 What do you enjoy photographing outside of your work related projects?

Animals and nature. These are such passions and lifelines in my life and there is nothing I enjoy more than combining these passions. I have created three series of images of horses; from polo ponies to ranch horses to wild mustangs and have recently begun to share this work in my print shop: From still life to images from our travels, these are photographs that I chose to create for myself.

KT, you’ve just wrapped up your charity project in Africa can you share a few details about your mission and experiences while you were there?

Last year, my husband and I launched a new venture called Render Loyalty. Render Loyalty strives to inspire change by generating financial support for organizations at the forefront of threatened species conservation. In Render Loyalty’s inaugural year, we partnered with two incredible leaders in conservation {The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy}, travelled to Kenya to learn about their vital work, and photographed the amazing animals they save. We returned home with a collection of fine art images that not only share the soulful beauty of these animals, but actually help contribute to the effort to protect them. We debuted the DSWT and Lewa series in one-night only gallery shows in New York City and Los Angeles, donating 100% of the price of artwork sold during each evening back to the respective conservation partner. To date, we’ve donated over $20,000 and are hoping to contribute much more as we continue to grow the Render Loyalty brand.

I heard that you were accompanied by your new Phase One IQ250 on Contax with the Zeiss 350 Super Achromatic in Africa. How did you enjoy working with it? What were your key takeaways?

Yes! While most wildlife photographers opt for a lighter and faster camera systems, I wanted to stay true to my work and shoot medium format. I enjoyed the challenge and loved the results. Just like my work photographing people, I was aiming to capture soulful and honest images of my subjects and find that the slower camera system not only does this but forces me to photograph animals like a portrait session versus rapid fire. Something that made the experience very calm and meaningful. I felt that I got to know my subjects and compose my images.

If you could have given yourself any advice when you first launched your career in photography, what would it be?

Shoot more and seek out a mentor. I began my career as an assistant to fashion photographers and learned so much from the incredible talents that I had the opportunity to work for. From talents like Patrick Demarchelier I learned how to run a shoot, approach light and the ease and which they engaged in their craft. For 5 years I learned and worked but I did relatively little shooting. As I reflect now, I would have told myself to shoot more, to give myself assignments and seek out a mentor and people who would encourage my growth as a photographer. I think during my first few years of assisting I felt I was still supposed to be learning and not yet ‘ready’ to be a shooter. In actuality, I had nothing to prove and an active mind which I feel would have led me to start creating more fulfilling work earlier in my career.

Lighting plays a major role in telling the story of your image. What are your favorite lighting techniques to tell your story?

I am a big fan of natural light, Mother Nature is pretty amazing! It’s something that I have become very comfortable with and feel instinctual about. I love it’s softness and how even the harshest sunlight can be manipulated into something beautiful. I’ve been experimenting more with artificial light and creating the same look in other situations, something I’m excited to do more of.

In which ways do you see your work evolving in the next 5 – 10 years from now?

I’m really looking to spend more time out of my comfort zone. I’d like to shoot more studio work, to continue my work in conservation and give myself some space to create work that’s not expected. I’ve been very busy the last few years working on my wedding business and while I will continue to do that I also want to actively shift my focus to creating exciting and challenging imagery. This means more experimenting, more personal work and pushing my limits.

Why Capture Integration? What made you select us as a partner?

It was really about the people and service. Anytime I venture into a new camera system I’m looking to integrate the tool into my workflow as quickly as possible. I sampled the IQ system and was able to secure a very thorough in home demonstration from Capture Integration which ultimately led to my purchase. The few hours spent up front ended up saving me many hours of frustration on location and I love that they sped up the process for me. It’s a relationship that is still relatively new and blossoming and I am looking forward to continuing to learn and grow with their support. I have big plans for the next 10 years and it will be fun to have partners like Phase One and Capture Integration along for the journey!

Connect With KT


Instagram: @ktmerry

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