Kari Pillow: Capturing the Soul
This time I have the honor of introducing you all to a very talented photographer, Kari Pillow! I met Kari on facebook, believe it or not, and we reconnected at the City of Night STL show a few months ago. I'm so glad to have met her, because she is an extremely talented woman, and has a beautifully positive vibe.
Kari lives about 20 miles south of St. Louis and is a fine art and commercial photographer. When I asked her how she got her start, she told me that her grandparents on her father's side were both amateur photographers. Her grandfather particularly was a proficient and emotionally-charged picture taker. "Their work has been a huge influence... my father too... and truth be told, one of my all time favorite photos my mother took. So really, it is in my blood. Like fire in my blood," she said, and I think it's definitely true. You can check out her instagram feed and see some of her work for yourself here.
I asked her how she really got started, beyond the inspiration of her grandparents. "I didn't truly realize until about 2 years ago when I was diagnosed with diabetes. The diagnosis really woke me up and as a result I started taking daily walks to help lower my blood sugar. I'd bring my cell phone with me on the walks and take photos of anything I found interesting."
Kari said she began posting the photos to facebook, and got an abundance of positive feedback, which encouraged her to keep pursuing the art. Sometimes I wonder where we would be today without social media and the support network we create for artists and friends there!
She then said something that really struck a cord with me, because I've gone through something similar in my own experiences, and maybe you have, too: "I also started taking self portraits, or as I called them at the time, 'Artsy Selfies,' in order to try and feel better about myself and my poor self image. I had let myself get up to almost 400 lbs. and hadn't really left the house in ten years, ashamed of my body and angry about it as well."
What a powerful thing. It is so important to face yourself and your fears, which is something I struggle with daily. I am so inspired by Kari's story. She has a way with really seeing beyond the surface. "That was my first time seeing a person for who they are, not what they look like, because I had to study those self portraits with many different self-eyes and many different self-minds in order to see something to love. In order to heal, I had to." Thank you for sharing this, Kari; you are not alone.
So then I asked her, what motivates you to keep taking pictures? And she said, "I can't imagine my life, now, without taking pictures of people.
"I used to lie around, moaning about life, thinking I was introverted or that I had social anxiety, thinking that I hated people. That they were too overwhelming, too energy sucking.
"Now I cannot wait to see their faces. I am only sad when I am not taking photos of them. I love going up to friends, sometimes strangers, and telling them, "I love your face!" because I do. I love so many people now, I see so much more now. They no longer scare me, I embrace them, adore them.
"They are MY people now."
Kari also hosts an event called Soul Portraits in in the Park. Kari says, "This is a personal and passionate project of mine that I would like you to be a part of. My goal is to capture your true self, in that moment. I do not mind if you smile, I do not mind if you are serious. The best way for me to get to the real you is for you to prepare yourself by thinking of your favorite book or movie... then think of the exact part of that book or movie that is your favorite part. Have that in your mind when you come to sit and have the portrait done." The next Soul Portrait event is on May 22nd at The Hatchery in Forest Park. See you there!
ALSO, Kari is going to be hosting a photo booth at the STL Swap Meet on May 29th in the Free Art Friends booth. Join us!
Last but not least, I wanted to give you all the opportunity to connect with Kari on facebook or instagram or email. She is always looking to do shoots! "I am absolutely open to portfolio building trades with anyone who is willing!" Send her an e-mail!
Thank you Kari, for your inspiration! I love looking at all the beautiful portraiture you take, and can't wait to one day be a part of it myself!