Interview With Kimberly Walla Photography

March 22, 2016
You know when you are scrolling around on the internet and come across an image that stops you in your tracks?  This happened to me a few months back and lucky for me (and you!), I was able to interview the artist, Kimberly Walla, and pick her photography brain. 
 
Hi Kimberly! I adore your work and am a huge fan of yours! The self portrait that you shot with your daughter is incredible. It was a finalist in the 2015 Voice Image Collection, which is a huge honor. The drama, lighting, and color toning are phenomenal.  Can you share how you set this image up and shot it?
 
First of all, thank you so much for the kind words. I am passionate about creating emotive imagery and am delighted when others enjoy it as well. I was thrilled to make this image come to life because I had envisioned it for sometime. One of my favorite bonds to capture with my lens is the bond between a mother and her child.  I also love dramatic moody imagery, so I added the two together that resulted in this particular image titled “Unconditional Love.” The image embodies the emotional connection and love I have for my daughter.
The image was shot with one strobe inside a large soft box using my remote trigger. I placed a fan on the ground blowing up toward us to get movement in our hair. I created this image during a time that I was reading The Emotional Artist with Candice Zugich. I have been a fan of hers for sometime and highly recommend her breakout through Clickin Moms.
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How did you choose to edit this image? 
 
I must say that I edited this image a few different ways before deciding on this final edit. Oftentimes, I know exactly how I want to edit an image as soon as I press the shutter and other times it takes several attempts to decide on the final direction I want to take. When I do get stuck I take a break from my computer to give my eyes a rest.  Because I wanted this series to be dramatic and moody, I darkened the shadows and added a bit of a matte finish in post. I also darkened the sheets on the bed and added some color toning to the skin.  
 
How often do you use strobes in your work?  Can you tell us about your gear and how you set it up?
 
Last year my goal was to master artificial light indoors. It has become a wonderful tool that I use often in my personal and client work. I initially planned on buying two more strobes as I went along but after falling in love with the dramatic highlights and shadows that one light is able to produce I have decided to stick with one for now. I have an AlienBees™ B400 Flash UnitFoldable Giant Softbox from Paul C. Buff, and use PocketWizard transceivers. Typically, I look where the natural light would come from and that is where I set up my light. In the image above there is a large window right behind my strobe, which is the only light source in the room. 
 

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The drama that you create with a single light source is amazing!  Many photographers shy away from artificial light because it can look “flashy.” Yours obviously do not.  What tips do you have to help make your strobe images appear so natural?
 
In my experience, the key for creating nice soft light is to use a modifier whether it is a soft box or an umbrella. I also do not like blown highlights in the skin so I make sure my exposure is in line with my vision.  
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You also enjoy using natural light as a single light source.  What tips can you offer when using a single light source such as a window indoors?
 
For indoor shots using natural light I would suggest exposing for the highlights. It would also be a good idea to play around with every window in your home to find the best light. You may be surprised which one ends up being your favorite. Mine is a very slender, tall window that I overlooked many times.
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You work well in all types of light conditions.  Your outdoor work is a bit less moody, but still dramatic in a playful way.  Would you share some favorites with us?
 
Of course! I am happy to share.
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It’s easy for photographers to get comfortable with one or two lighting conditions, but you work well no matter what the situation.  Any final tips on working with light?
 
That is a huge compliment and something I am always working on. With clients, I typically shoot during the golden hour because I only have a short amount of time to spend with them and want my results to be consistent. With my personal work I am more of a documentary photographer and my goal is to capture my children in real life situations that unfortunately do not always happen during that beautiful golden hour. My advice to others would be to try different lighting situations and learn how to make them work for you. Never shy away from challenging light but try to make it into a creative shot rather than a perfectly exposed image. You may be surprised with your results and you will learn valuable lessons along the way that truly cannot be learned behind a computer. 
 
Thanks, Kimberly, for sharing your talent and wisdom with us!  You can view more of her work on her website www.kimberlywallaphotography.comon Facebook at Facebook.com/kimberlywallaphotography, or on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/kimberly_walla/.

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