Kate Retnz is a photographer, cinematographer and producer in Los Angeles, California. We were introduced to Kate through a good friend of ours last year and have followed her work and adventures ever since. She was raised in Ohio but knew that we was destined to head west. Her passion is exploring the world and documenting her every step. Kate is a true Kammok MOBster, equipping and inspiring everywhere she goes. Here is a recent interview that we did with Kate, I hope that you enjoy it!
Do you have a favorite walk-around lens…If so what is it?
Yes! I’d have to say it would be the Canon 16-35mm L f2.8 lens. Because I’d consider myself to be more of a landscape photographer, this is my go to lens. My eye tends to frame everything from a wider perspective and this lens really helps me capture what I see.
In general, during a session, how many pictures would you say you take to ﬁnd “the right one?”
Honestly, it’s hard to say. It depends on what I’m shooting, really. If it’s something that’s very staged, it should only take a few shots to find the right one. If I’m shooting something that has a lot more movement, then I’ll usually shoot a lot more to make sure I get what I want. In the past, I would just shoot like crazy because with digital you can. But when I shoot film, I notice that I am very selective with what I shoot. Film isn’t cheap anymore and you don’t want to waste your shots. I’ve tried to carry this habit over into the digital world and I think it is making me a better photographer. I’m trying to only shoot what I think is important to capture.
Are you a self-taught photographer or did you have a mentor that showed you the ropes?
I’m definitely self-taught. I’ve been shooting pictures for as long as I can remember and my skills have developed more and more over time. One thing I’ve learned in my journey as a photographer is to shoot what you love to look at. It sounds simple, but I think it will make you a better photographer. I’d love to find a mentor though and I’d love to learn more about studio photography.
Was there a deﬁning moment when you knew that it was time to take pictures professionally or was it a gradual transition?
I think there were a couple defining moments early on, but it was also a gradual transition after college. I knew from an early age that I wanted to be documenting life somehow. I used to watch Marty Stouffer’s Wild America when I was a kid and it made me realize that I wanted to do the same thing with my life. Shooting came so naturally to me that I knew I couldn’t do anything else — I was addicted. I’d borrow my parents film and video cameras until finally, when I got older, my mom got me a SLR for Christmas. That just fed the fire and I kept shooting away. I ended up going to college for video production and graduated early so I could move to LA. I wanted to be behind a camera so bad, but other positions fell into my lap. I juggled producing and shooting for a couple years until I finally made the decision to only be shooting.
Before you put your work “out there,” do you have it critiqued by someone else, or do you just go with what your heart tells you is right?
I usually just put it out there. Maybe I should have someone critique it first! :)
In the past year, who has been the most inﬂuential person in helping you discover your photography style?
I think deep down I’ve always known what my photography style was, but it wasn’t until I started shooting with photographer friends that I realized I had a style of my own. It actually started in 2007, when I drove to California with my friend Kim. We were comparing the pictures we captured along the way and I was amazed to see that we had completely different pictures even though we were photographing the same thing. Since then and over the last year, I’ve had a lot of meet-ups or collaborations with other photographers and its fun to see each others photos. You really do realize each person has a very special and unique style and its awesome when you can encourage each other to stick with it.
What is the ONE lasting impression you want to leave in your photos?
I want my photos to encourage people to get out and experience the world around them. I think the world is an amazing, amazing place and it has been created so beautifully. If my pictures can encourage someone step outside their doorstep when maybe they wouldn’t have in the past, then man, how awesome is that?
Do you think that society would be different if photography was never invented?
Absolutely! In so many ways. I think the best thing photography has done is open doors to worlds no one could ever imagine. Both good and bad. It has helped us connect with the people and world around us, but has also brought attention to times where we need to connect a little better.
I believe it is our job as Artists to observe our world and our communities around us to create a sense of emotion, experience and action through our gifts for the world to view, (a thought I adopted from Madeline L’Engle) What do you think about this?
I agree with this 100%. This thought is exactly why I wanted to get into photography in the first place.
What are the top 5 books you have read in recent years?
I’m embarrassed to say that I haven’t read too much in recent years. I have such a restless spirit and have a hard time staying still long enough to read. When I do take the time, I end up reading books like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Little Women, or the Call of the Wild. Can I give you a list of the top 5 books I want to read? They’re mostly historical.
Where has your favorite adventure been?
Each adventure is different and is really special in its own way, but I’d have to say my trip to South America has been one of my favorites. I decided to travel solo to Chile for a week before meeting up with my friend from Switzerland to travel another two weeks together in Patagonia. I spent a couple days exploring Santiago and then traveled ten hours south by bus into Patagonia to work on an organic farm. I definitely don’t speak Spanish, but I was able to do all of this on my own with the tiny amount of Spanish I knew and the experience was exhilarating. I had such a good time at the farm and met so many wonderful people. The two weeks I spent with my friend was a lot of fun and it made traveling much easier because she could speak Spanish very well. We climbed mountains and volcanoes, walked on glaciers, and took an eighteen hour bus ride to Buenos Aires, Argentina. There we explored the city, watched a ballet in the most beautiful theatre, and ate lots of ice cream. I definitely want to go back.
If you had a chance to shoot anyone or anything, what would it be?
Native American culture during the mid-late 1800’s. I wish I could have followed Edward S. Curtis around. His images are so captivating. I would have loved to photograph southern culture during the Civil War too.
Make sure to follow Kate's journey here: