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Perfect Practice Makes Perfect Play…

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My old tennis coach used to say, “Practice doesn’t make perfect, but perfect practice makes perfect play”.

As a 14 year old it wasn’t necessarily what I wanted to hear, but hindsight is always 20/20 right?  I can go out and take a thousand photos, yet if they are not grounded in excellence, vision, well-crafted composition, beautiful lighting, etc. then I’ll either stay the same or actually get worse.  (Ummm…no thank you).

One of the best ways I have come to grow as an artist is to copy some of my favorite photographers.  They say (whoever they may be) that copying is the ultimate form of flattery, and I truly believe that.  

A while back a few of my photographer friends, Fred and Sara, and I rented some lighting and were intent on recreating Yu Tsai’s famous 16 expression series.  At a first glance these images just look like shots taken at a photo booth, anyone can take those right?  No…wrong.  Each image is precise, with specific emotion, and takes time to capture.

So what did we do?  Well, we set up the lighting against a white wall in Sara’s apartment, and studied the heck out of Yu Tsai’s images.  What were we looking for:

  • Where the light source was coming from
  • What was the exposure
  • The amount of different poses
  • The composition (how much head space, do we cut off the elbows)…
  • Where were the shadows in the shot
  • How was he evoking his subject to give him what he wanted?

Then we blasted Taylor Swift + Beyonce (because ummm…that’s what you do when you are with your friends), and danced, and sang, and shot for about 4 hours each taking turns until we felt we had the lighting set-up down, and got shots of each other that we were happy with.

The cool thing about replication is that once you learn how to replicate you can learn how to make it your own.  Don’t merely stop once you’ve gotten the copied shot, figure out ways that you can make it Y-O-U.  The best thing any of us have going for us is that no one else can be Kat Harris.  I offer something that no one else in the universe can offer, and so do you.  Your eye, your style, your attention to detail, while it may be similar to others, is altogether separately yours.  Own that, and have fun with it!

I’m grateful to be surrounded by some amazing artists who want to challenge and evoke me to become the best I can be, and also that just want to rent a bunch of lights, blast Beyonce, and take a whole bunch of pictures.

Here are some of my favorites that I shot, and I have Fred + Sara to thank for capturing these of me!

Moral of the story: don’t just practice just to practice.  Surround yourself with excellence.  Fill your vision and creativity with excellence, with art that inspires you, allow yourself to be molded by impeccable work, train your eye to see beautiful composition. 

Be purposeful, intentional, precise, and have LOTS of fun while doing so!

XO,
Kat

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Photos by:  F.E. Castleberry + Tutti del Monte Photography

Beauty Is Her Strength

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My sweet friend Dianna texted me one day “You HAVE to photograph Heidi for Beauty Is!”.  

A few weeks later Heidi, Dianna, and I met on a busy street corner in Hollywood on an extremely hot summer day in Los Angeles.  pranced through the streets taking photos, stopping to chat, taking more photos, chatting some more, and I didn’t want to leave.

Heidi is an excellent make-up artist, and has a heart for people to know their identity and value and strength.  Her life is such an example of one that is outward focused.  Dianna thanks so much for the intro + Heidi thank you for sharing your beautiful soul with us!

XO,

Kat

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Beauty is Her Strength

This very phrase has been tattooed on my foot for the past eight years. Most people misinterpret this to mean something vain, and I had trouble fully explaining the depth of its meaning until I read the book “Captivating” by John and Stasi Eldredge. To be honest, back when I was 18 at the tattoo shop, I don’t even think my young naive mind knew what it meant. It wasn’t until I entered into my mid-twenties that I finally had a fuller understanding of the depth of this phrase. “Beauty may be the most powerful thing on earth. Beauty speaks. Beauty invites. Beauty nourishes. Beauty comforts. Beauty inspires. Beauty is transcendent. Beauty draws us to God” (Eldredge 133). We hear over and over that true beauty has nothing to do with our outside, and everything to do with our inside, almost to the point that we have become numb and have lost all ability to see its truth. Haven’t you ever seen a woman who, instead of catching your eye, she catches your heart? She may not be beautiful according to our society/Hollywood/social media standards, but the spirit that radiates through her very bones and leaks out through her smile is so strong that it imprints itself in your memory and you find yourself wanting to be around this woman, yet you don’t know why.

These strong and beautiful women don’t get their confidence through trying. Most of them don’t even know how to put makeup on! They don’t compare themselves to other women and wish they were like them. Instead, their biggest comparison is the simple reflection and evaluation of their own life. Every so often I’ve found myself guilty of comparing myself to others, or find others drowning in unhappiness because they are doing the same. All too often we look at other people’s lives and wish our own were different. We compare ourselves to every other woman and play the “If only” game in our minds, so much so that we miss the greatest beauty that lies within our own selves. 

If only I was as pretty as her, then I would be {fill on the blank}

If only I was as good as she is at {fill on the blank}

If only I had as many followers on {insert social media here}

If only I had a different job or was making more money I’d be able to {fill on the blank}

If only I my body wasn’t so {blank} I’d be {fill on the blank}

If only I hadn’t done {blank} in my past, I wouldn’t be {blank}

There are so many more scenarios that could continue on this list, but you get my drift. Each one of us has played that mind game too many times to admit and unfortunately, if not kept in check, we find ourselves in misery because we obsess over everyone else’s “strengths.”

What’s so interesting to me is I’ve spent a lot of time in the last year or more reflecting on my past and some of the choices I’ve made. I realized that I spent so much time using my outward beauty to control a man. I thought that’s what it was for. But then at the same time, needed a man to make me feel beautiful. Wait, WHAT?!

It wasn’t until I surrendered to God everything within me that I felt like I had become a woman. My beauty was no longer my strength. My inner strength, because of God, had become my beauty. I realized that the things that make us unique both in our personality traits and our appearance, are some of the most beautiful characteristics that can’t be bought from a store or a surgeon, or stolen from someone else’s life. “Beauty is mysterious. And that should not surprise us. Women are creatures of great mystery; not problems to be solved but mysteries to be enjoyed. And that, too, is part of her glory” (Eldredge 134). Our womanly beauty and strength comes from the contentment within our heart. Look in the mirror daily and tell yourself you’re beautiful. One day you might actually believe it. 

XO,

Heidi

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Photos by:  Kat Harris

Wardrobe:  Most of Heidi’s wardrobe was custom made in Cambodia where she does human trafficking work (rad right).  Not to fret because Nordstrom has some great options!  Here’s my favorite denim dress that have right now!  

See below for more wardrobe pieces!

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The Refined Man Is…Mentorship

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Juvan Langford is a Refined Man.

From the first moment I saw Juvan, I knew he was a leader.  Every pore of his body exudes leadership; it is just who he is.  He envisions a world where leaders create other leaders, where older men and women invest into the next generation of world changers.  He is committed to living a life of purpose.

This is a man that you want to know, because my friends he is going places.  He has a great Youtube Channel called Thought Life, and has many more projects in line to make this world a better place.

Now…say hello to my friend Juvan!

XO,

Kat

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Mentorship saved my life. My maternal grandmother legally adopted me at age 4 and I’ll never forget the day the adoption papers were officially signed. She sat my sister and I down on the couch and told us, “your father is with God in heaven and your mother has gone to get some help and so you’re both staying with me. Grandma is not going anywhere.” Although I had not fully comprehended the significance of that event, I did trust that Grandma was going to be there, no matter what. Interestingly enough, two decades have passed and that is exactly how I would define a mentor, a no matter what.

Mentorship is by far the most undervalued gift one person can give to another. If I were to paint a portrait to further illustrate this idea, the world would be one big room. On one side of the room there would be a large number of young people standing tall, but empty. On the other side you would see wise and seasoned individuals sitting, but filled with information.

Information is the only thing standing between where someone is right now in his or her life and wherever it is that they desire to be. It’s not that the young people don’t have dreams, goals and visions within them, they certainly do. It’s that the young people are not taking a seat and the wise ones are not taking a stand. It’s fair to say that this is not a problem, it’s the problem.

One of my most memorable mentorship relationships is with a phenomenal man I call, Pops. He was the father of one of my friends who offered me a ride home after football practice in junior high. He was aware of the fact that all was not well with me and offered to take me to hear me out over a bite to eat that evening. That was the most empowering conversation I had ever had with any man. He told me he believed in me, that I was bigger than my circumstances and that he was committed to being there for me, no mater what. Since that day he has not only kept his word but pours into me daily. My relationship with Pops provided me with an innerstanding™ that mentors are not meant to be looked up to for the answers, but looked into for wisdom.

The beauty lies in the fact that we are raised and surrounded by people who are carriers of information. I am certain that without the succession of mentors, who continuously stood for me, I would have entered into a life filled with obstacles. Mentorship is relational currency, an unapologetic exchange of support and resources between two individuals who recognize that the getting in the giving. This is precisely why it is my personal mission is to not only embody mentorship in my personal life, but also create a virtuous cycle of mentors around the globe. Deep and meaningful relationships are a essential, however, I am committed to shedding light on the power of mentorship to the extent that every child grows up with a “no matter what.”

-Juvan

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Photos by me:  Kat Harris

S is for Summer

                     "All who wander are not lost…"~J.R.R. Tolkein

There could not be a more true statement in my life right now that my should resonates so deeply with.

It may have felt a bit quiet on the blog the last month; it’s not that I have wanted to be distant; it is that I am fighting for presence and balance in my life.  To be fully present, to live connected in each moment at hand…now that is a task that is a grand one for me!

Over the last month I have had some extraordinary adventures:

  • My 21 year old sister graduated UT in Austin, and I got to visit her for a few days + experience how truly amazing Austin is…I could definitely live there!
  • Then I flew straight to LA for a leadership program I am involved in + spent the weekend in community, growth, and challenge.  
  • I photographed my best friends little sister’s wedding in Dallas.
  • Went wedding dress shopping with one of my best friends in Manhattan.
  • Flew to Big Bear CA. to have a day in the quiet, and stillness doing a ropes course that bonded me together with a community of people more deeply than I ever thought possible.
  • I hired our first ever intern!  Woo-hoo…can’t wait for y’all to meet her!
  • And soooo much more…

I am exhausted, but my soul is in abundance.  I am connected to myself, my family, my community in ways that I am incredibly grateful for.  It’s been almost a month since I’ve slept in my amazing cozy Brooklyn apartment, and I cannot wait go sleep in my little nook, however I look back at the moments over the last month and pinch myself because I cannot believe this is the life I get to lead.

A life of passion, adventure, possibility, romance, depth, authenticity.

My heart is overwhelmed with gratitude.

Jen is one of my best friends.  We worked at Invisible Children together years ago, and now I get to stand next to her at her wedding next month!  My LA girlfriends threw her an amazing bridal shower complete with a mimosa bar, and a flower crown making station!

Oh ya…and then I chopped my hair off!! Ahhh…my dear friend + world changer Rachel Burney (who has cut my hair the last almost 6 years) cut my hair, and I feel like such a sassy, sexy woman!  Rawrrrrrr y’all!

Before heading out to Chicago for my cousin’s wedding last week I got to spend a few lovely moments with Mara.  She is a precious soul, so elegant + feminine!

Let’s be honest…roadtrips are the jam, and I got to road trip with 3 of my 5 siblings to Chicago for my cousin’s wedding.  Two days in the car, meant lots of games, Beyonce dance parties and…

BRAID trains…duh!!! My 13 year old sister Lilly is becoming such a lovely young woman!  She’s getting so big!

Since I’ve been living out of a suitcase for a month I knew I wanted to keep things simple when thinking of what to wear to my cousin’s wedding.  So my go-to JCrew LBD + chunky necklace + red lipstick did the trick!

My cousin Meg basically had my dream wedding on her parents farm outside of Chicago!  The ceremony was quite and intimate, spilling over with love and joy!  And of course corn hole + photo booth + yummy food made the evening even better!

This picture just makes me laugh; it’s all my sisters + we’re trying to figure out how to pose for our PhotoBooth Pic…hahaha  Lots of dynamics going on here!

We danced until the wee hours of the morning, laughed a lot, drank yummy wine, and told stories from growing up together.  My soul was filled to the brim.

Now I’m back in LA for a few days, and have already experienced so many lovely things in the last 24 hours.  Yesterday I got to witness sunrise at Santa Monica pier for the first time with some close friends + then photographed one of my amazing world changing friends Dianna (more to come on her later!)

If you’ve made it this far on today’s post…bravo!  Thank you for connecting with me!

I’m overwhelmed with gratitude at the people God has put in my life + the adventures he continuously allows me to have!  The story that God has for our lives are always infinitely more creative, spontaneous, and adventurous than any we could think up on our own, and I’m so grateful to be on this journey with Him.

XO,

K

Beauty Is…Multidimensional

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“Hi, my name is Jenna and I am a fine art wedding photographer.” 

Often times when meeting someone new, the first thing we ask them is “what they do.”  This conversation leads to work talk over life talk and they usually walk away only knowing one tiny piece of the puzzle that makes you, you. But I am here to proclaim that who we are is not what we do. 

When I lead with that you only get to know that one tiny aspect of my life and the conversation is so focused on what we do that we never get to the part where we talk about who we are at the core of our being

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Sure, I shoot photographs for a living but that doesn’t touch on the fact that I am a loving wife, a puppy mom, a Christ follower, a watercolor artist, a lover of sour gummy worms, and an advocate for yoga pants. I allow people to form their opinion of me based on what I do to make a living and in turn they fails to see the rest of the beauty in my life. I am truly convinced that beauty is multifaceted and cannot be defined by what we do but by who we are (on the inside and out.) 

They say that time is money, but to me, time is life

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(Check our instagram today to win this print friends!)

What we spend our days doing are what we spend our life doing and I want to fill each day with as much beauty as I can possibly muster. 

Beauty is multifaceted. What do I mean by this? I mean that we can’t define it with one word or characteristic. It exudes from within and is something that each and every person has, whether or not they choose to recognize it. 

It starts on the inside and works it way into every aspect of our lives – should we allow it to. Defining beauty with one word is cutting the true meaning of it short, just like defining a human by what they do to make a living isn’t an accurate way to learn who they truly are. 

One question I ask every client is “What in life are you most passionate about?” I don’t care if they are a barista or a nurse, a mechanic or an engineer. I want to know what makes your heart beat fast, what fires you up about life, what makes your soul shine – because when people talk about their passions, they glow and the world is filled with more beauty.

Beauty is multi dimensional. 

It isn’t described through one adjective, and it encompasses who we are deep down into our soul. It is finding your passion and chasing it with reckless abandon so that the world is filled with people who have come fully alive with joy. Beauty is being proud that we are more than the title of our job, and beauty is sharing that truth with others. When we talk about what we love and when we do the things that make us happy, we are proving that there is more beauty out there when it is unconfined. 

Let your joy be unconfined, re-define beauty by not jumping to conclusions, judging from appearances, or allowing yourself to be confined by one sentence that tells people absolutely nothing about your soul. 

You are multifaceted and brilliant and beautiful – share that with the world. 

XO,

Jenna

 Photos by:  Life Tree Photography

Print by:  Jenna Kutcher

Life is a Beautiful Sport

To love is to risk, and to risk is to love.

My dear friend Elizabeth shared this Lacoste commercial with me a few weeks ago, and it stopped my breath.  There is so much truth and beauty portrayed in this campaign.

To put myself out there, to risk, to share my soul with another person can feel excruciating.  The thought of someone seeing my heart and not wanting it or rejecting it seems almost unbearable at times.

What it can feel like is as though I am jumping off a giant cliff, and am plummeting to a concrete finish, alone, rejected, dead.

Love is terrifying, yet love is one of the greatest adventures of our lives, and it is such an intentional choice.  

To choose love it to choose truth, courage, vulnerability.  To choose love is a risk, because you are risking pain, hurt, and loss.  

When I am caught in fear it’s as though I am blind.  I lose the ability to see that love is actually all around me.  That even if I risk love and lose it; it will not destroy me. 

Love never leads to death.  Love always leads to life.

And to truly live one must love.  Without love I merely exist paralyzed by my own fear.  Yet, when I take that giant leap into the unknown what I find is that I met in the free fall.  

In fact I am not falling to my death at all, and I am absolutely not alone.  It is at the point of choosing the risk to love that I am truly alive.  Instead of falling to my death I soar, fly, am empowered, and the love that I was so scared to give is met by love.

LOVE:  the very thing that I long for the most is at my fingertips, I just need to take that first step.

To me this commercial embodies all of this tension:  love, risk, vulnerability, fear, life, passion.  This man feels the risk of putting his heart out there to this woman, and it feels like he is risking everything.  Yet once he takes that initial step he love is met with love.

You see when we’re free, we set other people free.

When we love others, we set them free to love; it’s contagious.

So risk, love, live.  We were created to thrive abundantly, not to merely survive.

The choice is ours.  Life is a beautiful sport.

XO,

Kat

B E A U T Y is…Messy.

(Brooklyn Bridge with coffee in tow yesterday.  Check out the video I made on Instagram.)

Last year I was walking on Crystal Cove Beach with a friend, and she told me about a phrase her and her husband use with each other.  They use it when they see that the other is heading towards a bad decision, or in confession of their own mistakes.  They simply say, “HALT”.

Halt.  Are you…

H-hungry

A-angry

L-lonely

T-tired

Most of our poor choices, mistakes, those moments when we really blow it come from a place where we are experiencing one or more of those things.  Most of the conflict I had with my old boss happened when one of us was hungry; it almost became a joke between us.  We’d start getting really annoyed with one another, and then ask…hey are you hungry?  More often than not the answer was yes!  When I’m hungry I get short, irritable, and foggy headed.  (Note to my future husband:  if I start getting really cranky, it’s probably because I just need some food in me!)

One thing I have noticed since being out here in Brooklyn is life has felt just a little more messy than usual.  

My boundaries with friendships (specifically guy friendships) have felt wobbly.  My desire to people please has been much higher than normal, and I have felt more insecure my photography than I have in a long time.  Out of this place I have blown it more than a few times.  Whether by being rude to an innocent bystander on the subway, or over sharing parts of my life with someone I hardly know, or not guarding my heart fully in some guy friendships I have.

This week I had a meltdown with a girlfriend…what is wrong with me?  why do I feel so insecure and unsure of myself? Why am I blowing it in areas where I usually don’t?  When is this going to stop???

And then a little voice inside me so graciously said HALTAre you:  hungry, angry, lonely, or tired?

The past few months of moving has involved change and transition beyond what I expected:  getting acquainted to a new life, new city, new roomates, new career, new transportation, new culture, new church, pretty much new everything.  

As exciting as it has been; it’s been lonely and exhausting at times.

Patiently and sweetly my dear friend reminded me that life is messy, and that no…it won’t always feel this way, and that there is a multitude of grace to cover my mess-ups and mistakes.

Everything feels new, I’m out of my comfort zone, I’m a little lonely, but you know what?  That’s ok, because life is messy and within that I find beauty.

BEAUTY is…B E C O M I N G

Photo by:  Kat

I am, but I am not yet.  Daily, I live in this tension of growth of becoming.

I am becoming a woman who..

moves closer each day to the woman I was designed and created to be.

is grounded in her identity and value.

speaks truth even when it is difficult.

chooses discipline not for the sake of legalism, but for the sake of freedom.

realizes the risk and terrifying vulnerability of truly being known by others, yet walks forward boldly towards community.

is filled with dignity.

admits when she is wrong.

graciously forgives, and does not hold grudges.

speaks life with her words.

pursues greatness instead of goodness.

I am not all of these things, only some.  But with each breath, with each step forward I am becoming the woman I was destined to be.

XO,

Kat

B E A U T Y is…F E A R L E S S

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At some point in our lives we get fearful.

We start caring what other people think of us, we avoid pain (physical and emotional) at any cost, and it stops us from greatness.  

A 401k plan and job security become more attractive than reaching boldly for your dreams.  (Anyone with me on that one, or is it just me?)  It used to be that a paycheck didn’t matter to me if I didn’t truly believe in what I was doing.  Was I young and an idealist?  Of course, but I think perhaps there was something more going on there.

Remember when you were a little girl, and you didn’t have a care in the world?  

When I was a little I felt invincible. 

In the summertime I remember riding my bike all day long, for hours.  There was this big hill just outside of our neighborhood that ended in a cul-de-sac.  On hot summer days I would ride my bike barefoot and full speed down that hill, and I would see I long I could close my eyes before I got to the end of the hill.  Looking back on that memory I am surprised I didn’t break all of my limbs, and my grown-up self is a little shocked at my stupidity.  BUT more than that I look back to that little girl and see someone who is fearless.

Without fear we have utter freedom.  Have you ever been around someone that walks in total freedom?  Like a freedom that is all encompassing, and is birthed from the depth of who this person is?  It’s contagious.

What would our friend group, our work space, our city, our culture, our world look like if we said no to fear and yes to freedom?

I think the world would be a magical and beautiful place, because true beauty is fearless.

XOXO,

Kat