You might remember the series of female features I did during my maternity leave. The series featured creative women in my life who’ve done truly amazing and interesting things! There was one more woman I wanted to include, but she was due with her baby girl about the same time I was due with C. Over a year later, I’m so excited to finally share a Q&A with Kristin Guy – photographer and content creator extraordinaire!
Kristin and I met sitting at a brunch for food creatives hosted by Tillamook cheese in Silver Lake. We chit chatted about whatever and I just thought she was great – a truly upstanding person, a kind soul, and an insanely amazing photographer. We stayed IG friends, but it really wasn’t until we both were pregnant and due at the same time that we started chatting more!
Kristin lives in Southern California with her husband (a Nor Cal native), her baby girl, and their energetic pup, Ginger. While her home is gorgeous, it’s her “backyard garden” and her photographs that’ll make you swoon. She and her husband have worked to turn their backyard into a Certified Wildlife Habitat” for the commitment of sustainability and providing essential elements for wildlife…. all while she intersperses bread making and client work here and there!
She’s wildly talented and such an interesting person, I’ve been itching to ask her questions and share her story with you!!
1. Tell us about your background and how you got into photography and design.
I actually went to college with intentions of studying Cognitive Science, even through I had always expressed interest in the arts. My college, UCSD, started a program my second year which selected people who were both majoring in computer science and minoring in art to explore a new degree that would eventually take on the digital art space (digital video editing, web development etc).
With those tools, I was able to jump into jobs after graduation that many people did not have the training for yet – I worked in the entertainment industry at a few major studios as an editor and as a creative director for over a decade before deciding to start my own business…which came about from my hobby of food blogging.
Food blogging was a creative escape from my “real job”, over time the website was recognized by major brands and editorial publications. When HGTV reached out for me to style and photograph an entertaining spread, I didn’t even realize this could be a real paying job, so I took the plunge to become self employed and here I am 7 years later running a content production studio! I’m so glad I took that scary leap and never looked back.
2. What is a visual brand strategist?
(I’m not sure if my current work situation falls into this category, I’m definitely doing more styling/photography and content production these days – should we change?)
3. Has your style changed over the years? Do the projects inspire your vibes or do your vibes inspire the project?
My personal style has definitely shifted, I tend to really lay on the texture and botanicals more than when I first started out.
I am blessed to be able to have full creative control for some shoots, which I tend to let the product or client objective steer the vision while still throwing my personal flair into the mix. But I also have to really pull back and listen to what each client wants and adapt – for example, on commercial shoots we actually have to style quite minimally.
It’s all about having good communication with the team you’re producing for and adjusting your style accordingly!
4. Name your most exciting and most difficult styling projects?
Pre-Covid I would definitely say working with anything frozen is any stylist’s anxiety trigger: ice cream, slushy drinks, etc. especially on a hot set.
But now that our working landscape has completely changed, I’m finding myself working on client shoots as a team of one from home that usually involve 10 people on set. There have been many 12 hour days recently where my body has been put to the test spinning so many plates: making the food, getting the shot styled with props and photographed all while a remote team is live approving from their homes via a tethered camera (where they can see my camera frame from afar)!
Wild times that are both exciting and challenging! But I’m incredibly grateful that I am still able to work given the current situation.
5. Where do you find your color palette and flavor palette inspiration?
Travel – be it around the world or a new corner of my neighborhood. I love dissecting dishes and figuring out flavor profiles and always snap photos on the go to save for interesting texture and color reference for future project inspo. These days I’m finding most of my inspiration in the garden, which is pretty much my only escape.
6. You have to tell us all about that (drool worthy) backyard garden. How did it start? How do you and you husband keep it up with your little one and your enthusiastic pup?
When we bought our home 3 ½ years ago the backyard was just an empty dirt space. I had always dabbled in a small container garden, but knew that this was my opportunity to build a homestead and really push my love of gardening to the next level.
We started by building 3 raised beds, then built a greenhouse…now we have 10 raised beds, 13 fruit trees and still much more to do! I definitely understand the meaning of SWEAT EQUITY.
And we try to carve out as much time during naps as we can to stay on top of it because it’s my ultimate joy and therapy. Amazing what you can get done in 1 – 2 hours when you have a baby and need a little alone time.
7. You and I had our first kiddos around the same time. What were the struggles you anticipated with self-employed maternity leave and what were some that caught you by surprise?
I am very grateful that I’ve been able to work as little or as much as I’ve wanted to over this first year as a mother and business owner. I tend to do a lot of work during naps and sometimes on weekends, but still really try to honor and balance those weekends for family time… these early years fly by so quickly.
I think I was surprised by the drop off of certain client work once I was ready to resume projects, especially with cocktail styling/photography which used to be a big bulk of my work.
Those assignments significantly dropped off once people learned I was pregnant/had a baby which is so odd to me…It’s not like I’m drinking the goods on set!
In today’s creative climate, there is sometimes a blurred perception where even if you work behind the scenes to produce creative a lot of brands still consider you an “influencer” or “spokesperson” – and for some of those brands they didn’t want a mother styling their cocktails. So odd, but we move forward onto new opportunities!
8. Where can we see your work?
I work for both individual brands and commercial agencies, so my work ends up in a lot of places such as brand specific social media channels, print advertisements, or outdoor advertising (such as billboards).
But I do try to keep my sample portfolio up to date which can be seen here, as well as occasionally sharing client on my own social channel @dinexdesign when I’m allowed to.