Photographer Spotlight: Kenna Klosterman

Posted by: on Oct 4, 2011 | 13 Comments
Kenna Klosterman, photo by Andy Strachwsky

Kenna Klosterman is a boutique portrait artist based in Seattle specializing in maternity, babies, and children. She’s dreamed about working for National Geographic and took her first leap into the world of photography in high school, when she received a hand-me-down Olympus OM10 SLR from her dad. Hours spent in the darkroom perfecting her craft have paid off, because now Klosterman is not only a working photographer, but also a host, blogger and social media gal for creativeLIVE, a live worldwide creative classroom founded by Craig Swanson and Chase Jarvis. Klosterman, who says her personal vision is to enable change through powerful imagery, focuses her personal work on social documentary, humanitarian and cultural travel photography in Seattle, as well as globally on location. She sat down with us for a Q&A and shared insights on being a pro photographer.


My first camera was…
Some kind of inexpensive point and shoot that parents would buy for a 12-year-old. I’d consider my first “real” camera an Olympus OM10 SLR that my dad handed down to me in high school for my darkroom classes.

Photos by Photographer Kenna Klosterman
Photo by Kenna Klosterman

I wanted to become a photographer because…
When I was a kid my dad used a camera for his job as a location manager for TV and movies. The huge stacks of prints he’d bring home after scouting locations always fascinated me. I’d help him stitch together scenes with tape to present to his director. In high school I was that girl always hanging out in the darkroom. I majored in anthropology in college and fell in love with visual storytelling via ethnographic film and documentary still photography.


My first paying photography job was…
I had a short photojournalism stint in college shooting for The Daily Californian – an independent student newspaper at UC Berkeley. Those were the days of getting assigned an event to cover, picking up rolls of black & white film, shooting, rushing back to the office to develop the film, printing a contact sheet in the darkroom and hoping that my editor would be delighted with at least one image for the story.

Photos by Photographer Kenna Klosterman
Photo by Kenna Klosterman

My first BIG paying photography job was…
There were many, many “little” paying jobs before they got BIG. Once I branded myself as a maternity and baby photographer, I was pretty excited when I sold my very first “First Year Collection” – a portrait series of maternity, newborn, 6-month and 1-year photo shoots for a single client.


I got started in maternity and baby photography…
During my first year of shooting professionally I was willing to try anything and everything. Families, corporate events, weddings, children, nature – the list goes on. I quickly realized that I needed to focus, or potential clients (and I) wouldn’t be able to figure out what kind of photographer I am. When traveling I found myself able to connect and make portraits with women and children across cultures and language barriers. A light bulb went off and I began to seek out pregnant friends to build my portfolio. Then those friends had babies and those babies turned into toddlers and I found my niche.

Photos by Photographer Kenna Klosterman
Photo by Kenna Klosterman

I would describe my style or shooting philosophy as…
Photographer Jasmine Star told me to define my shooting style in three words and then live and breathe my three words with my imagery, brand and everything that I do. My three words are: Earthy, Joyous and Soulful. My clients say they love how I bring out the spirit of ‘the child within’ at any age.


Some of my industry role models are…because…
Tamara Lackey for her business prowess and methods of engaging with children as her subjects. Ami Vitale for her cultural documentary story telling. Michael Smith and Paula Chamlee, who are masters of their large format craft and were my first photography mentors.


I knew there was no turning back when…
In an attempt to satisfy a childhood dream of shooting for National Geographic, I traveled around the world photographing for the year of 2008 – for myself, not Nat Geo. I returned to a tanking global economy and believed my only option was to crawl back to my former line of work in product marketing. Six months later, after leaving my fourth corporate job in the span of 5 years, I realized, “It’s not them, it’s me!” Those big companies, cubicles and me – we just don’t suit each other. I didn’t exactly know how I was going to make a living as a photographer, but I knew I had to take the leap for my sanity and soul.


If I could choose one dream gig, it would be…
Other than that old National Geographic dream? A close second: being hired by a local or global humanitarian organization to photograph a custom image library to publicize its cause and enable change.




Before I got started in the industry, I wish somebody had told me…
Three things. 1) There is no ONE right way of doing things, there is no ONE right path to becoming a professional photographer. 2) There is no such thing as perfect. You have to redefine your relationship with the concept of “perfect” or you may forever be blocked.  3) There are no failures – only learning.

Photos by Photographer Kenna Klosterman
Photo by Kenna Klosterman

One thing NO ONE could have ever prepared me for is…
How to tackle fear of the unknown. I’m still practicing on a daily basis. I don’t think anyone is ever fully prepared for fear. Overcoming fear again and again goes hand in hand with being an artist and a solopreneur.


My favorite piece of gear is…
My Canon 85mm 1.8 lens for its buttery goodness. The 1.2 might be creamier and perhaps if I had the money I’d buy it, but the 1.8 is my own little taste of portrait heaven.


Besides working as a photographer, how else are you involved in the industry?
I am honored to be a host, blogger and social media gal for creativeLIVE – a live, worldwide creative classroom offering education in photography, filmmaking, business and software. We broadcast free workshops taught by industry leaders with the goal of reaching as many people as we can around the globe who may not otherwise have access to such education. The magic with creativeLIVE is that we’re truly a virtual classroom during our events. My co-host Susan Roderick and I relay questions from our online participants to our instructors in real time. We even have a regular student tuning in from his winter post in Antarctica! It’s a true gift to be a window between a global audience and talented teachers within an organization that is changing the face of creative education.


Follow Kenna on Twitter @kennakphoto or Like her on Facebook at

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13 thoughts on “Photographer Spotlight: Kenna Klosterman”

  1. Kenna, great article. I know a photographer that worked for Nat. Geo. I’ll email him this article. Maybe that dream will happen!!

  2. Wow, Kenna I never knew! But know this, you have the ability and talent. Make your dream come true!

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