Kaitlin Noel Hebert, a native of Montgomery County, Maryland, now resides in Cape May, NJ with her family. She is a highly sought after wedding photographer and the proud mother of two boys, Nick and Ryan. Kaitlin would never have guessed how unexpected and surprising an effect motherhood would have on her life — in fact, her entry into professional photography was the result of just trying to create a scrapbook for her first son after he was born. Before she knew it, photography had become a true passion that she knew she had to pursue. Like the brides and grooms she photographs at destination weddings, she has fallen head over heels in love — with photography, that is.
Kaitlin carries the Brooklyn in chestnut.
ONA: How did you get into photography?
KH: This is always a fun answer for me to give, because usually it’s not an answer anyone expects. I went to college pre-law. I graduated with a degree in criminal justice and was determined to head straight to law school upon graduation, but God had other plans for me. The summer after graduation, I met my husband. We married and quickly found out we were expecting a little one. Law school dreams fell by the wayside and I was desperate to find something I could do that would allow me to be present as a new mother and yet something I was still passionate about. In high school I was in any photography course I could find, even yearbook. Then in college, taking pictures of evidence in our crime scene classes only grew my passion more. After the birth of my son, I picked the camera back up, but only with the intention of capturing photos for my ever-growing scrapbook. It was exciting for me to take photos, to document every moment and share with others. My camera became as vital as my phone; I never went anywhere without it. By the time of my second son’s birth 17 months later, law school was an afterthought and photography was all I could think of. One shoot turned to 2, then to 5, then to 20, then to a full-time photography business with over 160 families photographed and over 100 weddings photographed in 4 short years!
ONA: What camera do you shoot with? What is your “go to” lens of choice?
KH: First, I shoot Canon. The Canon 5D Mark 3 to be exact. But for those that wondered what I started with, that would be a Canon T2i with a kit lens. Then I invested in the 7D, then the 5D Mark 2 and now, my amazing 5D Mark 3. This camera is a total workhorse for me. It does everything I need and more. I actually own 2 of them! My favorite lens of the bunch is the 85 1.2 L series. I just adore the creamy bokeh it creates, the way my clients pop off the page, and the weight of the lens just makes the camera feel sturdy to me. Granted, during a reception and for large family groups, the 35 1.4 L series is my BEST friend. Its lightweight, tack sharp, and vital for wedding day. I do not shoot zoom lenses, so L series primes are my favorite!
ONA: What sort of project drives your creativity? What is your dream project?
KH: Projects with brides, such as styled shoots, really send my mind and heart into overdrive. I love brides that really let their personalities shine through on wedding day, or brides that allow me to “play dress up” with them, if you will. I have an obsession with blush pink and gold accents. Floral crowns make my heart happy. And rolling hills with lush fields at golden hour are always the ideal shooting setting. I love putting together projects that have no rules, no time limits, and no expectations but my own. I often am guilty of breaking the rules, so when there aren’t any to begin with, that is when magic happens. Plus, planning creative shoots allows me to tap into my other passion, event planning! It’s as if I get to plan, decorate and shoot a mini dream wedding of my own each and every time a styled shoot is created. As for my dream projects…well, I fear there are far too many to account for. I would have to say my biggest dream would be to shoot a wedding or styled shoot in Europe. I have big dreams about anything and everything that involves Italy, so the minute a chance arises for me to go, I won’t even think twice!
ONA: What is the hardest thing about being a photographer?
KH: When you are an artist, or a creative in any field, each day brings its new challenges and struggles. When you own your own small business, that too brings on a whole slew of difficulties at times. I truly think it comes down to “how bad do you want” something, and that will determine how difficult it really is. I think its human nature to chalk something up to being too difficult if 1) we are scared of the consequences of the success or the failure 2) if we really just don’t want it as much. Its hard to find a place you feel as though you belong. A place you have a voice. Art is so subjective and its hard to know that not everyone is going to like you or your art and that, that is OKAY! I find that the most difficult part of photography for me is the Curse of Comparison. At any point in the day, coming across another’s work either inspires me, or leaves me with a tinge of jealousy. We tend to be self critical and crave more instead of focusing on what we have right in front of us. I am guilty of all of it. I tell myself daily not to compare myself to another’s work or level of success. Their journeys are different than mine. There will always be “competition” someone that excels in one area faster or more efficiently than you….but no one will ever be you!
ONA: Describe your style of shooting.
KH: Someone once told me my images are dreamy. They have a soft glow with a touch of light, bright and airy. I think they are vibrant, with an added pop of clarity and color. I am not a personal fan of anything grainy, anything with too much contrast, or any over-processing. I like images that reflect what the light and the couple in that light actually looked like. In terms of the style of photography, I love a mix between posed and photojournalistic. I am not committed to one style over another. I simply give my clients direction and each couple makes the shoot their own. When others say “your images are so unique, different” I can’t help but smile. That is exactly what I want. I want each of my clients to have a personalized experience with me. I may put my clients in similar poses, but when you let your clients fall into the pose and make it their own, their personalities shine through and their photo instantly becomes a one of a kind.
ONA: In one sentence, what advice would you give to a photographer just starting out?
KH: Don’t follow the rules, make your own! I have no interest in someone telling me I need to shoot to “make it”. My only concern is my client and being true to myself with my art. The minute I fail at either, I can safely assume I would no longer be in business, or at least, a successful business. Break the mold and shoot what speaks to you, what you see. Add a story to your image or let it speak for itself. Growing pains are part of it. Failing way more than succeeding in the beginning is a good thing. And the fear you have, it’s a good thing; it tells you where the edge is. Push those limits and never conform.
ONA: How did you hear about us?
KH: I was in the market for a new camera bag that not only provided functionality, but style! I wanted a high-end bag for a reasonable investment that would last me years to come. When I saw the Brooklyn bag, I was in love. It is sleek, classy, professional and 100% perfect. It’s lightweight and fits exactly what I need to carry with me all day while actively shooting. I have put this bag through sand, snow, rain, packed trunks, endless airports, and tons of venue storage closets and it is still great. The wear and tear on the leather has simply added character to my bag and each scuff is part of this bag’s story and history. I have found my camera bag company for life!