Portrait Photography Inspiration – An Interview with Katherine McMorran

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Professional photographer Katherine McMorran is a self-confessed photography obsessive, having fallen in love with the art form at the young age of 13 after shooting in her garden with a little compact camera. Katherine describes her photography as ‘contemporary portraiture’, her style characterised by vibrant colours, fun textures and movement.

We came across Katherine’s work on Instagram and were blown away by her fresh take on portrait photography and its seamless fit with today’s modern world. As someone who is used to working with models and social media influencers, Katherine knows just what it takes to create those Instagram-ready shots, and she certainly has a few stories to tell about her experiences! Read on as we chat to her about all things photography and where she finds her inspiration.

“I’ve been obsessed with photography since I was 13. Ever since then, photography has been my favourite thing, all I have wanted to do with my life, and has turned from a hobby into a business and career.”

Though it’s hard to tell now, Katherine hasn’t always been a portrait photographer, instead starting out with landscapes, products and urban photography. Talking of her desire to move into photographing people, she tells us “from quite a young age, I knew that’s ultimately what I wanted to photograph, but actually doing it was really quite daunting to me.”

Katherine’s story is not uncommon amongst portrait photographers, with many preferring to hone their skills first without the added complexity of incorporating a subject into a shot. “It wasn’t really until my third year at University that I actually started photographing people I didn’t know and really pushed myself out of my comfort zone.” She adds “I’ve never looked back since then and I absolutely love photographing people.”

Find your own inspiration

True to her contemporary, millennial style, Katherine chooses social networks Pinterest and Instagram to gather inspiration and ideas. “On Pinterest, it’s so easy to make boards on shoot ideas, finding colour palettes, textures, set up ideas and style inspiration and Instagram is great for location searches.

“Also, when I’m just walking about and see something that could be as simple as a nice tree or doorway, I will take a photo of it and put it in my location bank!”

She also cites TV as another source of location inspiration, adding that it’s possible to find and track down interesting shoot locations from what you see on your favourite shows – the best advice is to keep your eyes peeled!

“I’m constantly finding inspiration for my work all around me. Whether that be for locations, ideas for shoots, clothing or makeup.”

Let your subject shine

Photographing people comes with its own set of nuances, and it can often be difficult to strike the balance between a posed portrait and a more candid, carefree snap. Taking the time to get to know your subject and allowing them to add their own flair to the direction you offer can really make for those natural, well-composed shots. Katherine enjoys giving her subjects that extra bit of freedom to bring their own character into their work.

“My big thing is capturing my client’s personality in my images and letting that tell the photo’s story. Being able to enjoy a shoot as well as having fun and experimenting is what I’m all about. It helps not only the person I’m photographing to feel more relaxed and allow their confidence to shine through, but it helps me as well.”

Get creative on shoots

With the ever-increasing popularity of Instagram and the ease with which photographers can now share their work with wider audiences, the amount of images shared on a daily basis is growing substantially. For portrait photographers, it’s vital to bring something unique to the table and develop a style that makes your work more easily distinguishable from others’. We asked Katherine about a time where she’s had to bring her own sense of creativity to a shoot in order to get those extra-special shots.

“A couple of years ago I was doing a shoot in Shoreditch with fashion blogger Caitlin Porter. I saw this plant in a big square wooden planter which was pretty bog-standard looking really, but the leaves were this bright yellow colour.

“With the yellow top and earrings Caitlin was wearing, I thought it would go really well, so I made this poor girl sit in the plant and then on the floor with her face in the plant. God knows what she was thinking, but the photos we got are still some of my favourites.”

Katherine adds, “They’ve got quite an editorial style to them. Playing around with the position of the leaves meant we were able to use them to frame her face and they cast a lovely shadow. The sun came out for us and the lighting was perfect.”

We took a chance and it paid off. That’s one of the best feelings as a photographer.

To find out more about Katherine and her work, visit her website and take a look at her Instagram account.

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