So I met Kendall Shea, a local vegan photographer, at Vegan Haven, where I often run into really cool vegans who have great business, projects, talents, or ideas. Kendall was kind enough to let me ask her a bunch of questions so that the whole vegan community could know her art and her business, Kendall Lauren Photography, a little better.
Vegan Score: OK, first things first, how long have you been vegan and why did you decide to go vegan?
Kendall Shea: It is 8 years this month (December 2013)! I picked up a book at the bookstore about health and weight-loss and it turned out it was all about a vegan diet. At the end of the book the author challenges the reader to try veganism for two weeks, and it stuck. Once I started down that path and began researching the ethical and environmental reasons to live vegan there was no going back, and I’m so glad!
VS: I know many vegan women who stumbled on veganism that way too. You are not alone. So, how long have you been a photographer and where did you study?
KS: I first became interested in photography when I was 13 and started taking summer classes which lead to classes in high school. After high school I was planning on getting a general Fine Arts Associates Degree but after one quarter I switched to specifically photography. I then went on to the Evergreen State College in Olympia (a very vegan friendly place!) where I got my Liberal Arts Degree with a focus (pun intended) in photography. I also did a semester abroad at NYU in London where I interned at the National Portrait Gallery.
VS: You are bonafide! Lots of people do their art as a hobby, but you make a living at it. When did you start Kendall Lauren Photography and how did you decide to make a business out of your art?
KS: I launched Kendall Lauren Photography in 2010, my family has an entrepreneurial streak running through it so it wasn’t a farfetched idea for me to be self-employed and I love it! I honestly have no idea what I would be doing for a career if I weren’t a photographer.
VS: Have you ever had trouble getting vegan photography materials?
KS: Happily no! Especially with digital photography being so accessible and so many companies now offering vegan print products, vegan non-leather albums and green alternatives it’s never been easier to run a vegan photography business. The album company that I work with offers just as many (if not more) vegan as non-vegan cover options. The company that I work with for my photo prints, wall clings, stand-outs and many other print products is 100% vegan and a green company as well. The products they offer are not only beautiful but I feel really great about being able to support the company and my clients love it. I did a lot of research on not only the quality of the products that I offer but I needed to make sure for my own peace of mind that the companies my business is supporting reflect the values that are important to me.
VS: That is so good to hear. I would have thought it would have been a real challenge. Have you ever gotten to use your photography skills for a vegan purpose (i.e. photos of animals, photos at a sanctuary, a vegan wedding, for an animal fundraiser)?
KS: I’ve been working with Pasado’s Safe Haven recently since I went on their fall tour (thanks to your posting about it!) taking photos of the animals looking for forever homes. One of my photography teachers, Ellen Felsenthal, from Everett Community College is the founder of New Moon Farm which is a sheep and goat rescue and sanctuary. I haven’t had a chance to work with Ellen on anything specific yet but hope to in the future, and have attended one of the Open Barn events and photographed many of the goats and sheep there. I would love to work with another sanctuary, donate to an animal specific fundraiser and of course photograph many vegan weddings!
VS: I love New Moon Farm. I hope to do a fundraiser for them too. I met Ellen last year at an event that was hosted by Fire and Earth Kitchen (vegan cooking classes). You do weddings, portraits, and boudoir sessions. Which is your favorite and why?
KS: Weddings! They are by far the most difficult, high stress, fast-passed events and the payoff is amazing. Watching two people come together with their families and friends to celebrate their love with an epic party? It’s just the best. I usually get the chance to work with my wedding clients for at least a year, building up that relationship to the wedding day and beyond is incredibly rewarding- many of my clients I now have the honor of calling my friends.
VS: In addition to the commission photo projects that you seem to love, do you also do fine art photography for public showings? If so, do you have any exhibitions coming up?
KS: I have a current project I’m working on with a dear friend of mine who recently came out as transgendered and is currently undergoing gender reassignment. We are doing a monthly photo shoot which I hope will culminate in a show or self-published coffee table book taking a compassionate view of the physical changes someone goes through in the years of hormone replacement therapy and major surgeries to change ones physicality.
VS: That sounds AMAZING! I’m working on a little online magazine exploring the intersections of veganism and feminism – and trans issues and experiences totally intersect. Maybe I can write about your project when it is ready. I can’t wait to see it! Does being vegan influence or inspire your art?
KS: The work that I do for myself is definitely influenced by my veganism. I am drawn to photographing animals (usually my husband’s and my two cats) and have recently started experimenting with the video capabilities on my cameras. I am also very interested in social documentary photography and hope to someday work with the Blue Earth Alliance located here in Seattle to focus on either a human-rights based photography series or an animal-rights based series.
VS: OK, so if some vegan reading this blog wants to hire you for their awesome wedding or family photos, what areas in the NW do you serve?
KS: My studio is located in North Everett but the greater Pacific Northwest (and beyond!) is all fair game. From the Olympic Peninsula to Portland, and beyond. Have passport, will travel.
VS: Anything else you’d like Seattle vegans to know?
KS: Calling all vegan small business owners! I would love to work with specifically vegan businesses for lifestyle sessions to show the world how awesome your business is with custom photography!
Thank you Kendall for this lovely interview. I’m not the boudoir bedroom photo type (yet), but I hope we get to work on some vegan or animal related project soon.