With a deep-rooted interest in photography from an early age, fine art photographer Kristen Wilkinson focuses her attention on effectively capturing mood and atmosphere in her stunning photographs. Kristen resides in Massachusetts and primarily photographs diverse landscapes close to home as well as while traveling. With a keen eye for composition as well as an understanding of lighting in the environment, Kristen effectively captures dramatic scenes relating to cityscapes and nature. As you browse through some of the photographs from her collections below, I think you’ll agree that she is quite an accomplished artist.
Kristen, thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us, and thank you so much for all your thoughtful responses. You are a brilliant photographer and someone whose work is definitely worth following.
Can you please tell the readers a bit about yourself?
I am a photographer based in New England primarily focused on landscapes. Some of my favorite subjects are lighthouses, farms, and Boston.
Where do you call home?
I currently live in Maynard, Massachusetts. About 20 miles outside Boston.
After browsing through your website, I see that you have built up an extensive collection of wonderful photography. When did you first become interested in photography and how long have you been involved with it?
I have been interested in photography since I was a small child, often borrowing the family camera to take a few of my own shots when we were on vacations. I eventually decided to major in it in college.
When shooting subjects, what do you find most challenging?
Adapting to the light is often my biggest challenge. I like to shoot at sunrise and sunset when the light changes moment to moment so making sure I keep an eye on my settings is paramount.
Location and weather conditions seem to be a crucial aspect to a successful photograph. How do you handle these unpredictable factors?
I try to research as much as possible before I get there. I check tide charts and weather reports, but there will always be an element of unpredictability that you can’t plan for. I’ve left for a location and the weather report said partly cloudy, but by the time I get there it’s overcast. I just try to make the best image I can given the conditions.
What has been your most memorable session and why?
It’s hard to pick a most memorable, but I’m itching for more time in the Rockies. I spent 36 hours exploring Montana and Glacier National Park earlier this year and it was nowhere near enough.
What drives you to create; does it satisfy a need or passion?
I use photography to give me a break from my daily worries. It quiets my mind and I enjoy being out in nature alone.
How did you develop your style?
I spent a lot of time looking at images and deciding what I liked and didn’t like about their compositions or editing styles. Then I researched ways to get the same results and began applying those techniques to my images.
What is your favorite part of heading out to a new location?
I love it when I get to a new location and the light is good, compositions will begin occurring to me quickly and it can be a struggle to decide where to begin. It’s a similar feeling to waking up on Christmas morning and not being able to decide which present to open first.
What has been the best source of information along your photography journey (workshop, online forums, classroom, mentor, etc)?
I try to make use of every avenue of education available to me. I’ve studied in college, taken workshops, and conducted my own independent studies. But hands down, my best source of information has been my mentor, Rick Berk www.rickberk.com. Having a mentor with a similar style to mine and with similar goals has moved my work forward immensely.
What is your best photography tip?
Try again. I make many mistakes with my exposures, sometimes conditions don’t cooperate. Sometimes it takes me 5 or more visits to a location before I get the image I was looking for. Be willing to try again.
What do you hope viewers take away from your images?
I hope they feel what I felt when I was taking the image. I hope they feel the warmth or the cold, I hope they can hear the water crashing or the stillness of the night. I hope they feel like they were there with me.
Share with us your favorite image and why.
It’s hard to pick a favorite but I do have a favorite shot from my favorite sunrise of last year. I captured this image at Pott’s Point in Harpswell, Maine on a warm summer morning. I hadn’t been to this spot before but knew it would be low tide at sunrise and this spot looked like it might be ok for low tide. It was a total gamble that paid off with a spectacular sunrise as a bonus.
What type of camera(s) do you shoot with? What is your favorite lens?
I shoot with a Nikon D810. I don’t have a favorite lens but I do prefer wider focal length and am usually working between 18mm-35mm for most of my shots.
What is in your camera bag?
Camera, lenses, a remote, filters, a tripod or two, water, candy, bug spray, hand warmers, ibuprofen, first aid kit.
What is your favorite photography accessory?
My filter kit.
What piece of equipment would you most like to get but don’t have yet?
I’m pretty satisfied with my kit. I will probably upgrade my wide-angle to something newer in the next few years but it’s not a priority for me currently.
How important is Photoshop or other image editing software in your final images?
It’s vital. It would be unheard of to skip the darkroom when developing film, right? Photoshop is the digital version of the darkroom and just as important.
Was there a point in your journey when you started to feel really good about your work? If so, what did it feel like to get past that “tipping point?”
Early in the summer of 2018, I started feeling more settled with my editing style. I felt like I could finally make my images match what I saw on scene. I have evolved since then, of course, but that was a breakthrough period where I finally felt competent.
Do you have any projects that make you look back and shake your head? What made the experience so unpleasant?
I recently completed a project involving lighthouses and the Milky Way as a way to honor my grandfathers who were each a lighthouse keeper and a NASA mathematician. The whole project was very difficult from start to finish. It required a lot of planning to find lighthouses that were positioned correctly and a lot of luck in getting a clear sky during the new moon period when the sky is darkest. The light from the lighthouses often overpowered the light of the stars so exposing correctly for each of them was tricky. Then I had to learn how to combine everything in Photoshop. I wouldn’t call the experience unpleasant, but it was difficult and I’m glad to be done with it for this year.
What are your upcoming travel plans?
I’m about to leave for Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Upstate New York to round out the foliage season. Next year I’m eying trips to Tennessee in the spring and perhaps back to Washington State next summer.
Do you see yourself as a photographer many years down the road?
Absolutely. I can’t imagine any other career fitting me as well as this one does.