Born and raised in the small suburban town of Pasadena, Maryland, Krystal grew up with a mother who had an addictive camera personality. Documenting her daughter’s daily life rubbed off as Krystal began developing her own interest in photography which would become her full time profession later in life. At the age of 26 Krystal left Washington D.C. and is now firmly established as a portrait and events photographer.
You’ve become a «go to» person within the community for wedding and event photography. You must be delighted.
It is such an honor and delight to be sought after for my passion. I would put this down to my amazing network here. From the time I hit the cobblestone streets of Paris, I was sure to introduce myself as a photographer everywhere I went. I even often donated my services to events and groups here in the beginning, so that people could get a sense of my work and gain confidence in what I was creating.
How would you describe your style and approach?
My style is a combination of posed photojournalism. I give my subjects something to do so that they become natural in front of the camera. Usually when you put anyone on the other side of the camera they become like a deer in headlights. The key is to give them things to do with their body so that they forget the camera is there; simple things like having a coffee in a cafe, walking down a beautiful street, or whispering something sweet in their lover’s ear.
Has your approach developed over time? If so how?
I’ve been shooting for over 10 years now and have become more confident in my work and spending time with strangers. My approach has become warmer over the years and more playful. I remember now to take a step back and let people be themselves and forget about me for a moment, instead of constantly telling them how to pose.
You’ve moved away from Krystal Kenney photography to Miss Paris Photo. Can you tell us why?
My name is hard to spell! I wanted a name that got straight to the point of what I was trying to do, which is being a photographer in Paris. I also wanted to dictate what separates me from other photographers here, which is taking a feminine approach to photography hence «Miss».
You capture events, baptisms, weddings, engagements. Which is your favourite, and why?
It’s hard to choose one domain, but I do love working with couples. Many times it’s their first time abroad and seeing the love between them and the love of my city is so inspiring. You can often become jaded living here. It’s nice that on a daily basis, I can have new energy put into my life and work through other people’s experiences here.
Do you ever have to turn down work?
I do turn work down, because as much as I love my job, I’ve learned to take a break and travel often. Also, sometimes I am already booked for a day or a particular time slot. I pass this work to other photographers. We are happy to help each other and I see many of my «competition» on a daily basis for a chat over a coffee. It’s like an office, except our desk is at the Trocadero platform.
What’s the biggest challenge with wedding photography?
Wedding photography can be stressful. Many photographers will not even touch it. The biggest challenge is the fact that generally it’s the most money any one person will spend on one day of their lives! This puts pressure on the photographer to document everything perfectly and not miss a thing. Also it’s about spending 8 to 12 hours non-stop on your feet. You are not just thinking about working a camera, you’re thinking about the feeling of the day, chatting with relatives and your bride and groom, light, timing, delays. There are a lot of moving parts to a wedding.
And then there’s the editing process… Imagine having to sort through 10 hours of photos! Literally you will go through a 1000 photos to pick the best ones. You feel as though you may go blind staring at your computer, and you often find yourself retreating into the kitchen to take a snack or coffee break when you’re not even hungry, but just need to get away from your computer. So not only do you go blind but you also gain 10 pounds from editing weddings!
What advice would you give to couples looking for a wedding photographer?
I always recommend having a chat or a meeting with your photographer before. You can really feel the connection this way, much more than just looking at their website.
Is there really a proposal occuring during an engagement shoot?
I photograph many surprise proposals on a weekly basis and 99% of them are a total surprise. The proposer and I Skype before, to work out all the details, and it really is sweet to see a genuine expression of surprise on the person’s face.
Whats the most memorable moment in your career?
Wow, that’s tough… My job has taken me to so many amazing places: helicopter rides over Versailles, meetings with directors, songwriters, authors, behind the scenes of famous places… But the happiest moment of my career so far was meeting and photographing Jimmy Buffet. It sounds silly but my father was a big fan of his music. As a child, I grew up listening to him and it really connects me with my childhood and family. It was so nice to share that moment with my father afterwards and then be personally invited to his concert in Paris.
The world has become aware of your name following a photo shoot that went viral, can you tell us about the day of the shoot?
This was such a special shoot! I work with a wonderful ‘officiant’ here, Michelle Wahila of Ruffled by Grace, and she was first contacted by the two grooms for their special wedding ceremony in Paris. They are from Orlando Florida so everything was planned over the phone and via email. They wanted an extravagant, beautiful wedding day in their dream city and we even got the approval of the Petit Palais to hold the ceremony on the museum steps. The day was completed with a butterfly release in front of the Eiffel Tower and lunch at the famous Le Train Bleu restaurant. But the biggest surprise of the day was when James arrived at the ceremony with a full cape draped across his back covered in flowers! We couldn’t go 10 steps without a dozen tourists wanting photos with him. It truly was a sight to be seen and even more surprising, was how viral it went online!