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Podcast Episode 34: This is Kim Hart Fotografie

Delighted to be talking to the fab Kim Hart Fotografie for today’s episode. Kim is one of the best wedding photographers in the Netherlands, has won 7 Reportage Awards from us, and was just so lovely to talk to – she shares so much great advice and thoughts here. My eight year old daughter was listening to me working on this episode and she said ‘wow, she’s so inspiring!’, and I totally agree. Stick with us today as Kim shares all about:

  • life in the pandemic and home-schooling her girls,
  • the story behind one of her specific Reportage Awards,
  • her soft-spot for the elderly,
  • why she’s particularly drawn to black and white,
  • how she came to be a wedding photographer,
  • her first paid wedding,
  • what success means to her,
  • how she does her family photography,
  • the specifics of her she mentors or coaches,
  • the importance of conferences and meeting people,
  • McDonald’s 😉
  • why she personally enters awards,
  • her top tips for better documentary captures,
  • advice for just starting out,
  • a certain image that has had a particular impact on her,
  • and much more…

Listen on iTunes/Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, YouTube, and below in this post with a full transcript too.

Alan Law:

Hey Kim, how are you doing?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Hey, yeah I’m fine, thank you. How are you?

Alan Law:

Yeah, I’m fine, thank you, yeah, all good, all good. How’s things with you – you’re over in Holland, aren’t you?

Kim Hart Fotografie

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yeah, I’m over in Holland and it’s the first day that schools are up and running again.

Alan Law:

Oh, right!

Kim Hart Fotografie:

So the girls are off to school, it’s almost normal [laughs lightly].

Alan Law:

How old are your girls?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

The oldest is turning eight in a week and the youngest has just turned four.

Alan Law:

Oh cool, very similar to – I have got an eight year old girl and a five year old boy, so very similar.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yes, so they are also both in school which is –

Alan Law:

Well, ours is still different here so, yeah, ours are both at home at the moment actually. So how does it feel for you having them back at school? How has it been over the past few months?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Well, it was weird because the youngest one just turned four and she had one or two days to practice and then Corona hit – she could extend it for a couple of months and it was hectic because we had to rearrange everything…

Alan Law:

Yeah…

Kim Hart Fotografie:

But luckily, the amazing part was that in the time when we were at home, we had lovely weather, a nice garden and the girls got together a lot so that was just amazing to see.

Alan Law:

Aw, that’s cool, isn’t it? There are good sides to this horrible situation, I guess.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yeah… and I’m not meant to be a school teacher, that’s what I have learnt also, it’s not for me [laugh].

Alan Law:

[Chuckles] It’s really difficult, isn’t it? It’s tricky!

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yes, it is, it really is.

Alan Law:

Have your teachers been sending you things to do in that time?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

[Sighs] Yeah, like a lot, everything, and some things we were debating how to teach them, but we managed and it also has a good advantage because you get to know how they are doing and where you can give them some extra help, to be honest.

Alan Law:

That’s true.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Not all bad, come on but actually, I am happy to have some peace and quiet in my home.

Alan Law:

[Laughs] I totally understand that, I totally understand that and were they looking forward to going back to school today? Were they happy?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Well, the oldest one was happy because it’s turning back to normal and for kids, that’s good. The youngest one, she says, just no.

Alan Law:

[Laughs]

Kim Hart Fotografie:

She just wants to be home and play.

Alan Law:

Aw, yeah, I understand that, aw. And how has it been for you in terms of weddings and postponements and things, how is it looking for you now? When is the next wedding that you’re supposed to be shooting?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

[Sighs] Well, I have to be honest, these last months, on a personal level, were quite changing. I’ve just recently divorced in the middle of Corona.

Alan Law:

Aw, so sorry.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yeah, it’s sorry but on the other hand we are, very good friends for the girls so I am lucky to have all that time together still with the girls and family so at the end, for me personally, not having weddings is perfect. Because I have all the time to focus on this so it was a little luck for my end, a little blessing in disguise. Of course, for income, it’s not good. Our government is supporting us, which is nice, that gives us some air but a lot of weddings are postponed to either the end of this year … from September … I think I have my first one in August…

Alan Law:

Okay.

Kim Hart Fotografie

Yeah, I have some but my plan is to do it next year – to start it more and be back – more back – because I had to let it go a little bit last year.

Alan Law:

Oh, I understand, yeah. I’m sorry, awful, awful.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

It’s not awful, it’s life…

Alan Law:

It is.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

I’m fine, you know, I’m fine – it’s not awful, it’s life. I’m alright.

Alan Law:

Aw, good. Okay, cool. Similar situation for me in terms of weddings so my next wedding is not until the end of September, they are all postponed until then. What are the laws, at the moment, in Holland in terms of weddings, can they even go ahead now or they are not allowed at all?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

We have the one-and-a-half metre rule so we have to have distance with each other but our biggest trouble were the locations, if they could open. It was the biggest question for the wedding couples and for now, I think this month, we are allowed to be with thirty people in a room, in distance.

Alan Law:

Oh, right, okay.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

I think from July, or August, we are changing to 100.

Alan Law:

Oh wow, okay, so it is easing?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yeah, it’s picking up. Now, over here, it almost feels like normal but I am a bit concerned about a second wave because nobody is having any distance any more with it.

Alan Law:

Oh really?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

So, fingers crossed, but otherwise I have, I think, a wedding in August and in September and October so I have quite like four or five this year.

Alan Law:

Okay, that’s quite nice to have.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yeah, I’m looking forward to it.

Alan Law:

Yeah, it’s been a while, hasn’t it, until we last shot? Well, I don’t even know if I will remember how to use my camera, I don’t know.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Well, I use it for the girls a little bit and some newborn shoots. They are still letting me do that from a distance and some family but it’s not the same as a wedding.

Kim Hart Fotografie

Alan Law:

No, that’s true! Fingers crossed, it will happen in August and then the other ones, it will.

So I would like to talk about one of your specific images, one of your Reportage Awards (above) that I particularly love. It appears to be – it looks like a granddad holding his grandchild, I think. It looks like maybe on the dance floor, I don’t know, but it’s just a beautiful moment and his expression, the way he is holding him, your black and white… can you tell us a bit about that shot?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Well, yeah. I have a soft spot for the elderly, I always have. They calm me down, as a person. I had a very good connection with both my grandparents so whenever I see grandparents, I just go – I’m like a magnet, yeah, I need to go there. There is just something about it that I love to shoot and if you have children combined with that, especially at weddings, I try to capture that because a lot of the time, our elderly are staying at home, in their house, especially in the Netherlands and they don’t go out and about that much.

Alan Law:

Oh okay.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

But for a wedding, you have the whole family together, and they get dressed up and it’s a beautiful occasion so I know, that’s one day in a year that does not happen a lot. That is maybe why I am so focused on grandparents because you know that they are getting older. So when I see grandparents, I always try to joke and make fun with them and they like that, they like the energy so they allow me to come really close. And this particular granddad, it was indeed a granddad, he was a photographer.

Alan Law:

Oh really, as well? Wow.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yep, so in the beginning, he was very sceptical and in the end, I showed him some examples on the back of the camera and he was very enthusiastic so I had a good bond with him. It was in the middle of the reception that I could see the little kid and I could see him but it was a spontaneous moment so I just turned around and I saw the moment, I was at the right place. A lot of the times, I am very low to the floor …

Alan Law:

Oh okay.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

… to be on child’s level, and I’m only one – I’m very short so it doesn’t matter for me and I just saw the moment.

Alan Law:

It is a beautiful shot – it’s the way he is holding him and looking down at him and it’s just beautiful, I love it. If anyone is listening, whilst running or in the car, do come to the site, ‘thisisreportage.com’ and I will include the image in the post in this podcast so you can see it. It’s awesome! I love your black and white as well; I think you show a lot of black and whites and actually all of your Reportage Awards are black and white actually, which is great – I love black and whites. Do you have a specific reason why you choose to edit certain images in black and white?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yeah, I have thought about that, of course, for a long time because I love black and white. Ever since I started photography, I couldn’t get my colours right and at the beginning, I thought it was due to technique but the more I get to know myself and the more I get to understand myself and how I view the world and why I view the world, I came to understand that the black and white and the strong blacks and the deep blacks and the very white and the contrast, the drama in it is because it is my personality. As a child, I have been through some pain or I saw some fear and that made me quite harsh as a person but I am also somebody who is extremely sensitive and has a very sensitive soul and that kind of comes back in the way I see the world and take photos so it’s about deep black and very white.

Alan Law:

That’s cool.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yeah, and I didn’t realize that – that I look at it that way so it is a representation of myself, actually, and that’s what makes it even better. A lot of my clients also have experienced some drama in their life, either a loss of somebody or a tough childhood, so it also speaks to certain people.

 

Alan Law:

Right, sure. Oh, that’s a beautiful way, I think of seeing it, as well, looking at it. It’s lovely. How did you – because you said that you were sensitive as a child – were you into photography from an early age? How did you get into being a wedding photographer?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

I started by accident. Now I realize that both my parents are very creative, I didn’t really know that as a child. My dad was a graphic designer and my mum was our school photographer.

Alan Law:

Oh right, okay.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

So they both kind of have creative souls.

Alan Law:

Yeah.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

I had nothing in photography. It was when my oldest girl got born, I was walking in a forest in the early mornings – I am never out and about in the really early mornings because I love to sleep in, but with babies, you have to do something.

Alan Law:

Yeah, it is true.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

So I lived near the forest – I lived near the forest which is amazing and I suddenly saw the light coming between the trees, hitting the ground, and I just took my iPhone and I took a shot. Then I was hooked on photography and every morning, before I had to go to my work – because I wasn’t a wedding photographer – I went running on the fields to catch the sunset – or the sunrise – and I was just hooked on landscape photography, I thought. Then I got to borrow a camera from my granddad – well, my ex-husband’s granddad – and I was addicted and I started portrait photography and I just shot portraits, like editorial or fashion portraits and I got some name in that in the Netherlands and then, I thought ‘hmm, I really like this’, maybe I could earn some money with it.

Alan Law:

Yeah, that’s always good.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yeah, because it was all just fun and whatever so I asked my best friend, who is also a wedding photographer, if I could join her and from day one, I was totally in love with it and then I think I started my first wedding end of December 2017.

Alan Law:

Oh okay, not long ago, not long ago.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

No, and in 2018, I offered myself, like for nothing to everybody. I shot like millions of weddings and I just was in love and yeah, it went quite fast and quite well and yeah…

Alan Law:

Yeah, you’re doing great, you’re doing great and very – not that long. I thought from the quality of your work, I thought you had been shooting a lot longer than that so that’s really, really cool. Do you remember your first wedding that was your own wedding and your first proper wedding, as it may be?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Oh yeah, I do and it was so nerve-racking. It was in Rotterdam in December…

Alan Law:

Oh wow, okay.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

I had to even teach myself to learn the flash just in case it was dark – and I am not technical, you know, I shoot manuals from day one but I am not technical – so I was terrified. Was it going to be too dark?

Alan Law:

Oh yeah, was it okay?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yeah, it was okay because I am a very lucky girl. Almost all my weddings, I think like 90% of them, I have sun.

Alan Law:

Oh, that is lucky, that is very nice. You should put that on your website – 90% sun!

Kim Hart Fotografie:

[Laughs] No one is asking for it – I was joking about that but I often have good weather. In December, we have amazing sun so I have beautiful photos of them on the bridge outside of Rotterdam with the golden hour and I used the flash and it worked somehow and they were very happy with it and it was – yeah, I am still also happy with those pictures.

Alan Law:

That’s cool, to be really happy from your first paid wedding as well is really, really good.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yeah, well my technique and everything changes a bit but not the way I shoot it – it’s the same, still.

Alan Law:

Cool, great stuff and yeah, it’s just gone on from there and it’s awesome! Cool, let’s change tack slightly now; let’s go – So, if you won the lottery, Kim, I don’t know if you play the lottery. Do you have the lottery in Holland?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

We have but I don’t think I play.

Alan Law:

Okay… but imagine if you did play and you won the lottery, what would you spend it on? Would you still do wedding photography?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

My goodness, that’s a good one because I do not care about money at all.

Alan Law:

That’s cool – a good way to be.

Kim Hart Fotografie

Kim Hart Fotografie:

In fact, I always have money somehow because I am good at saving.

Alan Law:

Okay, that’s been handy especially with the pandemic – to have that.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

I’m lucky in money, somehow. Like in March, I didn’t have wedding but the government still helped – they gave us money so there’s not a problem.

Alan Law:

Well, that helps, that’s great!

Kim Hart Fotografie:

No, I wouldn’t change anything at all. I don’t think money would make me happy at all because I don’t like the way it’s a change issue.

Alan Law:

I totally understand.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

I wouldn’t do anything different. No, it would be too easy. If you had a lot of money, you would miss the drive and I like having the drive to work and to provide for myself and to earn my own money.

Alan Law:

That’s so true, isn’t it? It would be a very different kind of life.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

I would buy a house in Italy or something. That would be easier but that’s – yeah…

Alan Law:

Okay, that sounds nice. I totally agree with you about money being not important, as long as you have got enough to live but above that does not really make you happier. It’s very interesting, though, the subject of happiness. That’s why I often talk about it on here. What does it mean to be successful to you, then? I already know that money is not a level of success for you, so what does it mean to be successful for you?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

I think that’s such a good question because success is so, so based on ego. It is what the eye wants to desire or whatever and in the last years, I realized that success is not about being known or being popular or whatever. For me, success is being truly happy and finding inner peace. For me, that’s so much more important so no, I don’t think, in life, of success because if you are successful, then other people should fail and I don’t like that idea.

Alan Law:

That’s a great way – I don’t think I have heard that and that’s so true.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yeah, I think it is so difficult to go through life to get to know yourself and to stay true to yourself and to follow your heart, to know who you are and what you want, to be of service to others and to always do the right thing. That in itself is like a challenge so success – it doesn’t add anything. If you have something to say or you’re inspired or motivated, that will happen if it happens, but if you try to achieve something and it’s not from the heart … I think, you just have to be you and try to live as true as possible and then, that’s enough.

Alan Law:

I totally agree and that’s brilliant, I really do and that’s great advice.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

To really do that, it’s not easy. Success doesn’t matter at all, no, no, no.

Alan Law:

That’s a great way of looking at it. Have you found it? I think, as you say, being yourself and being you is so important. Have you found it easy to be yourself throughout life?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

No, I think I have put on so many masks in my life. In the beginning, I was living through anxiety of fear, all of the time, all of the time. I was afraid of everything; I couldn’t even dare to drive. I had a lot of anxieties and then I met my ex-husband and then I had a wonderful life and it calmed me down a lot and I wanted that to be successful so bad. I wanted to have the family that I never really experienced myself. Until a certain point that you realize that you might not be totally yourself, it might not be the total fit and it doesn’t bring you the happiness that you want and then you have to change yourself again and that’s hard because facing fears is what life is about, in my eyes, and that always causes pain but in the long run, it’s for the best for everybody and I really believe that.

I will fail and fall for probably the rest of my life but I do have the feeling that I am finding more inner peace now than I did before so even where everything is very difficult in my life at the moment, I still feel really peaceful.

Alan Law:

That’s so awesome to hear. You say that and speak about that so beautifully.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

That’s nice, thank you.

Alan Law:

Let’s change tack again slightly now. As well as your weddings, and you mentioned it just earlier actually, you also do family photography. Can you tell us about your approach to that, you know, how you shoot families? Is it still in a documentary kind of general way?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yeah, it’s been reportage documentary from day one and before I even knew the documentary existed, I did family maybe even before weddings and I shoot them the same way that I shoot my little girls. I hate posing, I absolutely hate it! In my portraits, from the beginning, I tried to capture something that had a feeling and that wasn’t posed and so with families, we always went outside. I said ‘we are going to have an hour, we are going to walk in the forest, leave your phones at home, let your kids be kids, please don’t tell them what to do and I will run around and capture that’ and that’s still how I do it.

Alan Law:

Do you enjoy the family side?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yeah because I love kids, they are so unpredictable and they are so full of emotions and those moments are just – you know that it is for years to come to look back at it so it’s a very honourable way of giving something back even if it’s not a lot but I do really like it and I’m looking forward to shooting those more in the coming time.

Alan Law:

Yeah, I guess they will be easier to do rather than weddings for the foreseeable future as well.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yeah but it also takes more time. I prefer weddings because it’s a big day, it has everything in it and if you talk money-wise, it’s better, and it’s a bigger job. It takes more time. All those families are nice but they are short and sometimes difficult to plan in a week.

Alan Law:

Yeah, that’s true, especially the weather, if they are often outside as well. Do you ever do the kind of ‘day-in-the-life’ sessions where you spend longer with the families?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

I think, if I look at myself – to do that, you have to have higher prices and there are not a lot of families really willing to do that. ‘Oh okay, we would like a session’ but for very long days, especially in my experience, the dads don’t really enjoy having a camera around all day.

Alan Law:

[Chuckles]

Kim Hart Fotografie:

It’s true.

Alan Law:

Yeah, I can appreciate that as a dad myself, I guess.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yeah, a lot of the times, people that are attracted to my photography are also people that hate posing because everything is unposed. What I do is I tell them that you don’t have to pose but they are often people that don’t like the camera.

Alan Law:

That’s true.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yeah, but short sessions are just more successful in terms of bookings and so I try to stick with that and newborns, I do a lot of newborns and also in the same way.

Alan Law:

Cool, cool. I have never done any newborn photography. Do you enjoy that? Is it really difficult though?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

It’s so different because you have to be aware of a little baby’s soul. I only do it from six, seven weeks old because then, there is a little bit more aliveness in the little baby, they start to smile, they are more awake and more conscious but the energy – you have to take a lot of time with little babies because even the shutter sounds can have an impact on them. When I do it, I take small shots and I stop again and I talk with the parents on how it is and then when I see a moment, I shoot a little bit but everything has to go in the pace of the little baby so if the baby is getting stressed for any reason, I stop. So they take long but you do it like a bath section, cuddle section and retreat a little bit – but it’s really nice to do.

Alan Law:

Sounds lovely actually.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

And if they smile! Because every parent wants that and at the end, they always smile and so I have one little beautiful baby smiling and then everybody’s happy.

Alan Law:

Sounds lovely. Do you ever shoot families of the couples that you photograph?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yeah, it happens now. If you shoot the weddings, then you also shoot the new baby, then you shoot families. You get into a connection with those families, which is nice.

Alan Law:

That is cool isn’t it, to be able to capture different elements of their life, going forward. I think it’s lovely.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yeah and it’s still rewarding when you come into their home and see the photos actually hung up on the wall like ‘aw, I helped you with that!’ They are finding joy out of it. That’s always an honourable feeling or a humble feeling.

Alan Law:

Yeah, I have only done that once. I have taken a photograph of, one of my wedding couples, one of their babies, and they had some photos up from their wedding when I went into the house but I wondered if only the day before I arrived, maybe they went out and got photos because of me [laughs].

Kim Hart Fotografie:

No, you’re surprised about how happy people are with your photos. One of my best friends, I shoot her family sometimes and she also recently got separated so I shoot her and her two little girls but she actually prints them and puts them all over her house so when I’m there I feel that it’s so nice, it’s so pretty.

Alan Law:

Oh lovely, aw that is cool to know, isn’t it? That is cool, that is very cool. You, as a mother yourself; two kids. When we weren’t in a pandemic, how did you balance being a mom and being a busy photographer as well, how did you find that?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

To be really honest, I just dropped my work. I dropped it. Everything was postponed. I knew that my number one priority was to try to be the best mother I could be in the circumstances especially when their grandmother got Corona and we didn’t know if she would survive.

Alan Law:

Oh right, sorry. Is she okay?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

She’s okay but in that week, we also signed the divorce papers so in those times, I was happy that I could leave my work for a little bit and fully be here for the girls but I shot a lot of them, I shot them because I knew that it’s going to change in a while so I wanted those memories so even when I had Corona, I was still shooting them.

Alan Law:

You had it as well, you had it?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

I didn’t have it that heavy. I had it for a week, I had a fever for like a week and I was extremely tired and fell down and hit my head and all that stuff but I wasn’t that sick at all. But shooting my girls is really special to do.

Alan Law:

Yeah, it’s very important to do that as well so I need to that more, I don’t pick up the camera enough at home with my kids. I need to do it more.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

How you do it – if you put it somewhere below, so if you are downstairs you have to have your camera present. If you have it boxed up in your gear above or whatever, then you won’t. Leave it. Leave one downstairs and you will do it and you make an album of it, that’s it.

Kim Hart Fotografie

Alan Law:

Aw, I need to do it more. It’s the same – we had an electronic drum set in a different room but now, we have put it in the lounge and now, I am playing it every day, you know. When it’s there in front of you, you will use it, won’t you?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

When was the last time that you shot your kids?

Alan Law:

With the proper camera – the ‘big camera’, I call it – maybe Christmas or so, maybe.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

You are in the middle of Corona, aren’t you?

Alan Law:

Yeah, I know.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

You should, it’s so different now they are back at school and I have one picture of their dad sitting here behind the desk doing their homework, it’s so cool to have.

Alan Law:

I’m going to do it, Kim, you have inspired me, I am going to do it.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Well, I would like to see it then.

Alan Law:

[Laughs] That is good; hold me accountable, that is good which leads me on to a good point actually that you offer coaching to photographers like you are coaching me, which is great. How long have you been doing that for? Do you enjoy it, in teaching other photographers, I guess you must do.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Well, it’s different. I am not a great teacher, per se.

Alan Law:

I bet you are.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

No, I’m not that technical but what I love to do is sit with somebody and truly figure out who they are. I just want to know and help them to figure out who they are.

Alan Law:

That’s more important, that’s more important than the technical side.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

What makes them, them and when you realize that why you shoot certain things, then that is going to be your style – that is going to make you unique so to go away from copying, or whatever, and just to see, okay, who are you and why do you shoot this and what do you see and what do you like and I love doing that but it’s more like the psychology behind it and being there for people and trying to coach them and motivate them to do this.

Alan Law:

That’s great! That’s a great way to look at mentoring or coaching, definitely and I’m like you, I’m not a very technical photographer and so that element definitely appeals to me.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yeah, I don’t promote myself with the new – I am so in awe of people who know everything about flashes and everything, I think – also for me, that’s truly inspiring but I don’t get it. I don’t do it all the time, I mean I have to go back again and again so I don’t do that anymore, I just stick with what I know and I try to learn as much as possible because that’s important.

Alan Law:

Have you been on other workshops at all?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yeah, I’ve been very happy with Rocio Vega.

Alan Law:

Oh cool, I interviewed her for the podcast, she’s awesome. I bet her workshop was good.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yeah, if you want to really learn all sorts of technical things, then she is the one – she will kick your ass.

Alan Law:

[Laughs]

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yeah, in a good way, in a good way… She is a lovely person so that’s why. The workshops that I do, or the mentoring, I choose people that inspire me. I think that is more important than how good they are.

Alan Law:

So true, oh yeah, definitely! Have you been on any conferences?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yeah, I think, for Fearless up for two years – the first one was in Croatia. You need to. You need to talk to colleagues and to either make friends, meet new people, get inspired to learn and to share – that’s so important.

Alan Law:

It is, isn’t it? I love doing that as well, it really is. I still get nervous about socialising with loads of different people but I do really enjoy it.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Are you the same? When you are in a group, you just want to go away and sit alone.

Alan Law:

I totally feel that. Do you feel like that?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

I do that often, it is too overwhelming. I just try to find one person and have a meaningful conversation and I am happy.

Alan Law:

That is so true. A pint of cider helps, for me, just a little bit as well.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

It doesn’t help for me. I’m half English, if I drink I get loud and obnoxious so I don’t.

Alan Law:

I like the way you likened the loud and obnoxious bit to your half-English side.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

I’m like those people that go to Spain if I drink.

Alan Law:

That’s really funny. Did you grow up in England at all or?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

No, my grandparents lived there so I did go away sometimes and we’ll be in a hideaway in a little cabin.

Alan Law:

That’s cool! Have you ever shot a wedding over here?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

No, I want to shoot a wedding in Scotland, that’s my big thing but with everything on it and kilts, top of a hill, with a thunderstorm…

Alan Law:

[Laugh] That would be cool.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Anybody listening, if you want a second shooter and you’re going to Scotland, please bring me.

Alan Law:

Hopefully you will get loads of requests there, hopefully. That’s cool. I have only done a couple in Scotland but I live in Cornwall in England which is the very Southwest so I did a wedding in Dornoch, was it two years ago now, and it’s a 1000 mile round-trip so it took me a long time.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

You went to McDonalds, didn’t you?

Alan Law:

I did, I did.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

I remember it – seeing like an insane trip.

Alan Law:

Oh yeah, that was it, yes! Do you like McDonalds? Are you a McDonald’s fan?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yeah, it’s absolutely mad but I do.

Alan Law:

Oh good! What’s your meal of choice? What do you like?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Chicken McNuggets!

Alan Law:

Nice.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

But with the Dutch they like it with mayonnaise

Alan Law:

Oh okay, not ketchup?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

No, no – and we only have the nice ones here in the Netherlands but it’s my comfort food because I try to eat healthy, but I love McDonalds.

Alan Law:

Yeah, you can’t resist a McDonalds especially after a wedding on the drive home, it’s the best thing. So if you’ve just shot a wedding, what’s the first thing you do when you get back home?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Well it depends. If it’s late, I just go to bed because I am just tired and the next morning, I will back it up on several locations. I have external hard disks, I have got them in the clouds so that’s two or three places that I have a back-up because I have had some issues in the past where I almost lost a wedding –

Alan Law:

Oh, scary!

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yeah, you lose like a year of your life in that moment.

Kim Hart Fotografie

Alan Law:

Oh nightmare! Did that actually happen or did you say it was close to happening?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

No, thank God we got it back but I had an error on my card which made an error on my external hard drive and in that same time when we were backing up to the cloud, the back-up didn’t go and I didn’t know that.

Alan Law:

Oh nightmare!

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yeah, but that doesn’t happen ever but it happened so I have three back-ups now. I shoot on two cards and I have three back-ups because you do not want to lose a wedding.

Alan Law:

No! So true! Very wise, very wise but you managed to get the data back, didn’t you?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Thanks to my ex-husband because he is a saint in that, he is amazing. He managed my computer and he said ‘I will still help you with your computer.’ Yeah, very nice!

Alan Law:

That is good! You have won several awards including seven Reportage Awards and lots from other associations too. What, for you – why do you personally enter awards?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

I enter them because somehow I want to share my work and some of the photos – when I shoot a photo, I don’t want the people getting it to feel something, I want it to be universally felt so if some photo makes you feel something, either makes you smile or touches something inside, it’s like a universal feeling and I want to share. And the awards is a great platform because one of my follower’s that got a certain award recently, that groom, I know he had cancer and he died. To be able to share that with a lot of people makes his memory – he made a mark on the world and also a lot of grandparents that I shoot and they die, I get a chance to share them somehow. So I don’t really know why I want that, it’s like a small thing that I can give back to people by having that platform.

Alan Law:

I think that’s so lovely. I think that’s a really, really lovely way of, again, looking at it. Awesome! What would be your top tips to help someone to become better at the documentary side of what we do?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

I know that a lot of people say that you also need to think when you shoot the weddings and I do agree with that – considering your backgrounds, the lighting and the composition is very important to make better pictures so learn that, I really do. All the things that you’re not good at, learn them and then let it go and then when you are at the wedding, just use your intuition, your feelings, follow your heart and your soul and capture those moments because you can feel them. So forget about everything, just get behind your camera and just follow the emotions and the energy that are all around you. Come close – well after Corona! Just come close. The more you feel it, the closer you have to come, just be there.

Alan Law:

That’s great! I totally agree with that as well and that’s beautiful. Can you tell us something that you are truly, truly awful at?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Using flash! I know how it works but I’m very short and having to hang them up, it’s too much and I have to carry it around. I have my on-camera flash and I know it’s not nice, it’s not the best light and I could – I should maybe learn more but I always go away after the opening dance and in the morning, I try to position them in the window light, yeah I suck.

Alan Law:

[Chuckles] That’s funny! You don’t need to be great at that side as well, I mean I’m not great at the flash side and some people don’t use any flash at all.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

I have an amazing second shooter who does know how to do it.

Alan Law:

Oh, that’s handy!

Kim Hart Fotografie:

I don’t know if I can name her because she is amazing! She also won –

Alan Law:

That’s up to you!

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Oh it’s Marli Eggelaar.

Alan Law:

Oh okay, cool! Yeah, she is a member –

Kim Hart Fotografie:

She is so sweet and she helps me with that and she looks at me and she looks at me and she is like ‘do I need to do it again?’ and I’m like ‘oh my gosh, please!’

Alan Law:

So do you often shoot together?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

I always shot alone and you get more into the zone when you shoot alone and you are allowed more into the group but because I had a lot of anxiety in the past for being sick or not being there on time or the flash or whatever, I decided to ask for a second shooter and I found Marli and she is perfect also, and I also shoot with Mina she is great too but most of the time with Marli and it helps. I can really go back to concentrating and sitting in the moment and I don’t have to run around backwards and forwards which I normally did because I had to capture it all – which you don’t but I thought I did.

Alan Law:

Oh, I get that feeling like you have to be like a headless chicken running around and capturing everything.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

You don’t have to do that, you know, but I want to have everybody on the photo for in case my couple asks me, ‘do you have photos of them?’ That’s why I said ‘well I have to shoot everything’ which you don’t.

Alan Law:

Yeah, that’s true. Other than photography, what are you really passionate about? What are your loves?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Of course, my girls but every mother says that. I’m passionate about writing, I like to write, nothing in particular, I just love writing.

Alan Law:

Horses or bikes?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

No, not riding but writing.

Alan Law:

Oh writing, sorry!

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Just writing, I like reading and writing.

Alan Law:

What kind of stuff do you write?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

For now, it’s more the blogs or something like that on my website. I want to write a book one day but it’s like what everybody says – I want to do this, I want to do that – it’s something that I’d love to do one day. I like being outside in nature…

Alan Law:

Yeah, you say you live near woods, is that right, near a forest?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

One minute walks and I am in the middle of the forest.

Alan Law:

That is amazing!

Kim Hart Fotografie:

I put music on and try to go running but it is more meditation than running…

Alan Law:

If you were to write a book, do you have an idea about the story or would it be like an autobiography or would it be non-fiction or what would you do?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

I think it would be a Roman – how do you say it?

Alan Law:

Romance? Or Roman, historical?

Kim Hart Fotografie

Kim Hart Fotografie:

No, you know Alan, I don’t know yet, I don’t know yet. It’s not going to be an autobiography but maybe something more based on the truth – like a fiction but based on truth.

Alan Law:

That sounds good! You should do it, you should do it.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yeah, I was thinking you were going to say that – ‘you shoot your family and I’ll write a book!’

Alan Law:

That’s fair, that’s fair.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Maybe I will, maybe I will.

Alan Law:

I’ll send you some photos of my kids.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Okay, I’ll send you the first chapter.

Alan Law:

Kim, do you have any advice for people who are just starting out in the industry because people who are listening to this podcast have a whole range of experience. Some have been shooting for years but some are just starting out, do you have any tips for those people just beginning?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

I think if you have the chance to shoot as second shooter for somebody, that will be the best tip I can give you.

Alan Law:

Right!

Kim Hart Fotografie:

You have a lot of time to practice and you don’t have the pressure yet and in the beginning, you have to give yourself away. I have done my first weddings maybe for free – that took me to Spain and it took me to France so that was okay.

Alan Law:

Oh, that is okay! [Laugh]

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yeah! Now I wouldn’t do it but then, of course, I shoot like crazy so start somewhere but don’t wait for long taking yourself serious and asking money for it and that’s very difficult to up your prices. I had to double my prices in a year and that’s so hard, I thought nobody’s going to hire me but they still did so that was good; don’t be afraid to do that.

Alan Law:

Yeah because it can be really scary to up your prices, can’t it?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yeah, especially if you decide – I had to do it because otherwise nobody would take me seriously and I won’t take myself seriously so I had to double my prices. You should really do that if you have enough weddings and you have room, up your prices!

Alan Law:

Totally! Yeah, totally agree with that and give yourself enough time to experiment with those new prices as well because some people put the price and then get scared because they don’t book a wedding within a week but you need to give a good amount of time.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yes, give it the time and I also recommend to do a lot of writing – a blog – and get yourself out there and be honest, and just be you. Don’t write something you think somebody wants to read because it is a popular search engine optimizing word or whatever. Write who you are, write from your heart, just try to make it as real as possible.

Alan Law:

Great advice!

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Plus if you have to change yourself later on, then you are in trouble.

Alan Law:

That’s true! Great advice again and it comes back to what you said at the beginning of just being you. I totally believe in that as well in life. It’s so important to be you in everything that you do and that includes running a business, writing a blog and how you talk to people on the day and everything really.

At a wedding, have you ever made any kind of really memorable mistakes at all?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

I made a lot of almost-mistakes. I almost bumped into, a museum, into a painting – I almost ruined a century-year old painting, I almost walked behind into a cake, you know, all of those things. I shot the opening dance, I had three photos and then my flash got overheated because I didn’t know how to use it – thank God I had three good pictures but that never happened again.

Alan Law:

You do – we learn from them, don’t we? We do – very scary.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

It is awful and – I don’t know…

Alan Law:

But it’s all good, it’s all good. I love hearing those kind of stories…

Kim Hart Fotografie:

I left my camera on the dance floor and I had to go back when I was already back home, just stupid things.

Alan Law:

Oh no! Was it far away?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

No, thank God! It was close but I’m very clumsy so I need to really think before I go about – if I have everything, don’t forget everything… I almost let the rings fall in the water which is – I don’t do ring shots anymore after that.

Alan Law:

Oh no! What happened there then? You were photographing them by water…

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yeah above the water and I dropped one and thank God it didn’t fall between the woods into the water – a lot of things you know, it’s terrible!

Alan Law:

Oh, that is scary!

Kim Hart Fotografie:

And I always have to go to the toilet when you enter and do the morning stuff – do that before…

Alan Law:

No, I get that! It’s funny you saying about the ring as well. When I proposed to my wife, she said yes, we were at a hotel and the next morning, she was out the window and she was flinging – there’s a towel she was drying – and as she was flinging that, the ring fell off our first floor window, just flew down onto the floor so it took us about an hour to find it but we did find it but that was fun.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Oh, that’s awful!

Alan Law:

[Chuckles] Aw Kim, cool. I think we have got time for just one more question. Thank you so much for this, it’s been awesome talking to you. And I know this last one may be a super hard question, just to give you advance warning but can you think of a certain photo that you took that’s had some kind of lasting impact perhaps, that impact has been on your career or your confidence or your direction or just an image that’s just particularly memorable to you for some reason. It could be personal image or a wedding image?

Kim Hart Fotografie:

There’s one photo that I took that I won’t place on my website because he looks directly into the camera. There was a young couple, which I mentioned, and he had cancer and they had, like, a four year old and one year old and they knew that he was going to lose the fight and I heard them with my parents-in-law saying that they were going to take their own photos with cell phones. I wasn’t really feeling well but I said you know what, ‘no we are not going to do that’ so I offered them, if I could help them, just give them hours for free so I could shoot and they were very happy with that and it was an amazing wedding – just the way it should be, you know, just laugh and being together and family.

And it was the first time that I shot a wedding and I thought that I actually knew why I was doing what I was doing and at the end of the evening – like totally at the end – he looked at me and he put his thumbs up and we looked at each other for a couple of seconds and I took the photo and he was like, ‘it’s okay’. And I knew when I took that photo, that that was going to be the photo that they were going to use when he died, so I polished that photo extra well, made it a beautiful portrait, because you could see how sick he was with his bags underneath his eyes so I tried to make it as beautiful as possible and then yeah, a couple of months later, I got the card that he died and it was that picture. So for me, that was the moment I know that what I do, it’s not a lot what we do but it has impact so for me, that’s my favourite one.

Alan Law:

That’s a powerful story, yeah. Oh man, emotional just hearing you talk about that.

Kim Hart Fotografie

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Aw, well, yeah it’s what we do and we forget it sometimes with all the things around it, but it’s really nice that we can do this.

Alan Law:

That’s so true. Yeah, that is so true. Thank you. Aw Kim, Kim thank you. Thank you so much for your time talking to me. I really, really enjoyed it.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yeah and now you pick up the camera and shoot the crap out of your family.

Alan Law:

Yeah and you pick up the pen and write a novel.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yeah, about – about what?

Alan Law:

[Laughs] I don’t know.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

I don’t know either. When I find it, I will start writing, okay?

Alan Law:

Yes, deal! And I’m going to take photos of my kids, but Kim, thank you so much that was brilliant. I just loved it, your honesty and how open you were. It’s just really interesting. Thank you.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

It’s nice to talk to you. You’re very nice guy.

Alan Law:

Aw, thank you, that’s nice.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

You are!

Alan Law:

Aw, you are lovely and lovely talking to you and I know people are going to really enjoy listening. If you’re listening, as I say, if you’re in the car, anything, head to the site ‘thisisreportage.com’ and I’ll show lots of examples of Kim’s work and links to your website and you wrote a ‘This is How’ piece for us, I think, a while ago as well which was super. That image where, I think, it’s like the bride and the child and they were hugging from behind, I think.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yeah.

Alan Law:

And that was a really interesting read as well so I’ll include the link to that and yeah, just thanks so much, Kim that was awesome.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yeah and if there’s something I can do, just let me know.

Alan Law:

Aw, no worries! You stay safe and hopefully, I’ll get to meet you in real life one day.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Yeah, let’s do that. That will be fun. Okay, cool.

Alan Law:

Bye-bye.

Kim Hart Fotografie:

Bye.

***********************************************************

We hope you enjoyed our Kim Hart Fotografie interview!

Visit her website for more of her work, her This is Reportage profile, and read exactly how she took one of her different Reportage Awards in her ‘This is How’ piece that she wrote for us.

Check out our other wedding photography podcast episodes.

Interested in joining us? 60 Reportage Award entries, 18 Story Award entries, an unlimited number of images on your profile, almost 16 hours of exclusive video wedding photography courses (with more added regularly)… these are just some of the benefits of joining us.

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