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Check Out Kathleen Straub’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kathleen Straub.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
As a young girl growing up in southern California, I was inspired by the beauties of the mountains, citrus orchards, and crashing waves of the ocean. I received my first digital camera in middle school and since this was in the pre-camera phone days, I would take photos everywhere… while I was playing tennis, surfing, and hiking. Upon graduating high school, my mom gifted me my first DSLR camera. I was hooked.

My passion for photography was amplified when I was attending college in California. I took a few courses using my mom’s film camera and learned the process of developing my own photos in a dark room. From there, I took other courses on lighting, photoshop and storytelling.

After craving a change of scene, I mixed things up and transferred to Benedictine College, here in Kansas, to study elementary special education. Through college, I began shooting weddings for close friends and was designated the rugby team’s photographer. I was hesitant to use photography as a career, concerned that if I burned out that I would lose the fire of such a creative outlet. After graduation, I took a position as a lead special education teacher and worked for five years at St Agnes Catholic School in Kansas City.

Teaching was such a rewarding yet demanding job. I poured almost every ounce of energy that I had into it and used any spare time to fine-tune the art of photography and eventually transform it from my hobby to my profession. I began shooting weddings and family sessions for close friends and slowly felt the desire that this could in fact be my career.

After marrying and settling down with Matt, the smart and hunky soccer player from my college days, we decided to start a family. We had our first son in 2017, and not long after our second son in 2019. I was still teaching at this point but knew deep down that I needed to be home with my little ones. I said goodbye to my beloved students and said hello to learning how to run a photography business while also being a stay-at-home mom.

I dove into researching the process of turning my experience into a professional career. Matt, who currently works as a marketing coordinator for his family’s 100-year-old construction company, began learning alongside me. We found that we loved to sneak away to shoot weddings together, him focusing more on the groom’s perspective and catching those sweet in-between moments where I focused more on the bride’s perspective while also capturing their candid connection together.

We had our third son in the fall of 2020.

Our kind and yet wild boys have so much energy that I want to freeze their unique personalities in time, to always remember these sweet moments. I look at my client’s sessions with a similar view. To catch the moments that are real. The moments that they’ll want to remember with their loved ones as they grow older.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Honestly, it’s been quite the adventure. If you were to tell Cali girl, high school me, that future me would be a photographer, married to a Kansas guy with three little boys, I would’ve laughed.

Beginning as a professional in 2019 with two toddlers pushed me to be incredibly intentional with nap times and with my budget. I craved cuddles with my boys but also knew I needed adult interaction. After working a long day, Matt, my husband and second shooter for events, would lovingly push me out the door with my camera bag so that I could do sessions for families and couples. He knew I had the passion and wanted me to pursue my dream. He’s the real deal.

In the beginning, I didn’t realize how much a proper photography business would cost and it took a good while before I began to see any kind of profit. People say to find a job that you would do for free, and photography fits that role! If only the thousands of dollars of start-up costs and equipment were free as well! In the beginning, I felt like I should be giving away free sessions to all my friends but that didn’t pay the bills. It took some incredibly loyal friends that refused discounts, paid full price, and referred me to their friends to get me where I’m at today. Those dear friends, along with my husband have encouraged me to reach my dreams.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
As a child, I remember spending hours flipping through my grandparent’s photo albums and swooning over the black and white shots from their childhoods and wedding days.

Something about the unposed, grainy, perfectly unperfect moments made me feel something. It made me feel like I was there when the photo was snapped. It made me feel like I was a part of their moment.

I strive to do a similar lifestyle/documentary approach with my own art.

My husband and I are practicing Catholics and try to incorporate the virtues of faith, hope, and love into our photos. I love that this profession allows me to document moments for people that differ in their beliefs but also have these qualities. Love is truly all around us.

What would you say have been one of the most important lessons you’ve learned?
The most important lesson that I’ve learned is to work closely with my clients. What I mean by that is to plan for the worst-case scenarios for weddings. Plan for the weather. Plan for the ideal lighting for the day. Plan for toddler tantrums. Plan for breaks. My history of teaching helped me to develop a game plan for the unexpected and I continue to work hard to have a vision with my clients.

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Kathleen Straub

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