"When I moved to New York to pursue film school, a mentor encouraged me to start shooting again. I discovered 35mm and enjoyed wandering the streets in search of landscapes to shoot," recalls a New York City- based photographer and screenwriter Kaitlyn Mikayla.
Photography has been a huge part of her life ever since she was a little girl. Today, she is a published photographer, a model, an actress and a screenwriter, and she is never giving up on her dreams. In this interview, Kaitlyn talks about the story behind her short movie "HOPE" and reveals what inspired her to become a fashion photographer.
Hey Kaitlyn! Welcome to Lomography Magazine! What interesting projects are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on a different vintage editorials for some fashion & culture magazines as well as a feature film screenplay which I co-wrote is optioned.
I understand you are currently based in New York City. In a city, as stunning as New York, what is it that fascinates you over and over again?
I love the cultural melting pot. The people you meet are unlike any other — they can be so inspiring and also very frustrating too! New York is like a tug-of-war game and I’m enjoying it while I have the energy. Anything can happen here, it’s pretty magical.
You’ve been doing so many creative things past years and managed to build a name for yourself. How did photography become a part of your life?
Photography has always been part of my life for as long as I can remember. I used to steal my parent’s camera as a kid and photograph everything around me. When I moved to New York to pursue film school, a mentor encouraged me to start shooting again. I discovered 35mm and enjoyed wandering the streets in search of landscapes to shoot.
It wasn’t until after dabbling in modeling, that I got serious about photography and began shooting fashion & portraits. I learned so much from the photographers I worked with and wanted to execute my own visions. A year later, it’s turned into a full-time endeavor. The instant gratification is a nice change too from the slow-paced world of filmmaking.
You are a published photographer, a screenwriter, an actress, a model and a graphic designer and it’s safe to say you’ve mastered multitasking. How do you manage to stay dedicated to each profession and be the best you can be? What’s your secret to being successful?
I still have got so much to learn. Luckily, all of these professions go hand in hand and each one teaches me something about the other. The secret isn’t as glamorous as I’d like it to be. I’ve definitely sacrificed a social life for my passions. I tend to schedule my days to the brim with one creative task after the other. I’m never not working. I don’t ever sit idle!
Being a model yourself, were you naturally drown to fashion photography? What inspires you the most when it comes to fashion?
I was drawn to it because I did spend so much time watching how other fashion photographers work. It’s obviously very different from landscape / street photography that I was used to and I liked how quirky and experimental it could be. Vintage fashion and photographers who shoot with a retro feel really inspire me. I particularly pull inspiration from photographers like Henrik Purienne, Jason Lee Parry, and street legends, Al Vandenberg and Vivian Maier.
Besides fashion, you also enjoy doing portrait photography. What is necessary in order to make a memorable portrait?
Emotion. If a portrait doesn’t invoke feeling, it hasn’t done it’s job.
Having such a great support on Instagram must have helped you reach out to many different people and showcase your work. In your opinion, how important is for photographers to stay engaged with their audience and connect with them through big platforms such as Instagram?
That I’m able to share my work and have it be seen by thousands in mere minutes is the ultimate form of exposure. Instagram lends a voice to your work — which for me, is the trickiest part of the platform. But networking is really the most important part of the job. You have to network more than you’re creating.
Your short film Hope was produced in 2016 and directed by the talented Bobby Vu. How do you feel when you see your creative ideas come to life? What this film represents to you?
It’s very motivating to see your work come to life, but I’m extremely critical of myself too. So it can sometimes be a bit painful if I didn’t get the message across that I was aiming for. HOPE represents a time of confusion and feeling lost. It’s about running away and leaving something behind. Bobby actually shot the footage first and I wrote the story based off that.
I reflected on my teenage years when I had moved from a small town in Michigan to the Big Apple, which happened just five days after my high school graduation. Bobby’s cinematography instantly put me back on that road trip I’d taken across the states to my new home. It felt like the ultimate breakup with my childhood but what lied ahead was hope.
What are your plans for the future? Can we except more inspiring work from you?
I hope so! I’ve got a few film projects in the works and I’m trying to break into my first directorial project. As for photography, I’m trying to explore all the facets: beauty editorials, fitness, commercial fashion, etc. I’d love to incorporate more of my production design experience into my work and really create a world for my photographs.