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Look Who POP’d In :: Guest Blogger KRISTIN SHYLA :: Storytelling through photography and LOVE

Look who POP’d in! It’s Kristin Shyla!

Oh you are all in for SUCH a treat.  She is so very precious. Not only does she carry a gift of photography, but she carries a passion for people. Her photography inspires me to be a better photographer and person. She is precious in His sight and I am just so grateful she has decided to drop some mad love in the POPography blog. She has given us some amazing resources and inspiration! Enough babbling…let’s get to know her better!

Kristin Shyla Photography

 Raleigh Durham/ East Coast- available world wide.


Tell us something about yourself that has nothing to do with photography!
I love music and one of my favorite gifts is receiving a mixed tape. Some of my best memories are surrounded in songs and the people that gift them to me. They have a way of taking you to a place instantly. I am a bit of a memory hoarder and I am also a shark lover. Growing up close to the beach meant summers listening to the beach boys, trying our hand at surfing and well, spotting sharks. If the Jaws marathon is on, I can’t make myself move…again. Memory Hoarder.

What or who inspired you to be a documenter of life? 
Honestly, it begins more with my story. I was the kid that hopped on the bike and peered into peoples homes imagining what their life was like. Did they gather for family dinner, were they tucked in, did they get waffles for breakfast in the morning…etc. I knew that I wanted life represented authenticity. I discovered that when your kids grow older and begin marrying and we gather around the table the photographs that are going to bring about laughter or joy or possibly sadness are the authentic ones. They usher in a remembrance and it’s the little things that you tend to fall in love with and adore. Not having many photographs from my childhood or experiencing love in the ways that I hope to give my kids one day has almost made it all a mystery to me as well as kept me in awe of it. Which in turn keeps me inspired. My photography changed when I received what God had given me in life and began to love it. That changed everything for me.

Someone who inspires me is a photographer I was introduced in Australia named Tim Coulson ( When I glanced at his work I felt like I was there. I could hear the laughter and by the end of the wedding or family session I felt like I knew them. That is what I wanted to immolate. It was authentic, it was lovely and it was beautiful. The families were real, the weddings were real. It had all the components of what make up life. Moments filled with light and some dark. Walt Whitman says both are miracles and I agree. Real life is filled with all of those moments and that is what I want my photographs to reflect. A true narrative.

How long have you been a professional photographer? And when did you know you wanted to do photography?

I have been a professional photographer for about 7 years. 5 of those years I worked for another photographer, Casey Chappell. She started poiema photography and soon after that she discovered me. I worked for her for free for a year or so, and I wouldn’t trade it, as a third shooter and then eventually she hired me on as one of her photographers. I have been on my own for about 2 years now and Me, Kristin Shyla, becoming a photographer has been such a process. It wasn’t over night and so much of me being a photographer or wanting to be a photographer is wrapped up in the life long lesson of learning to love the skies that I am under aka. contentment. I quit my full time job (I worked a church plant in downtown Raleigh), packed up my car and drove to TX to become a photographer, but I got something greater, I got myself.

Describe your style in 3 words.
Simple. Authentic. Lovely

What would we find in your bag? 
5D Mark II
35mm 1.4
50mm 1.2

Where do you go to learn more about the art of photography?

Honestly, there are a few things that I do that help me to learn more about the art of photography and stay fired up throughout the many long hours sitting at the computer. These have helped me.

1.) Real life inspires. So much of what I do is inspired by living real life. So, I watch and I listen to peoples interactions while I am out in coffee shops, shopping, at the grocery store and the list goes on.

2.) I take time away from social media to go and enjoy friends, family, cook a meal, paint a picture, read a book, take in brunch or whatever. Doing this helps to guard my heart from comparison, stay true to my niche and style and be confident to make my own path. Lara Casey has really helped me with this among a myriad of other things. She is a resource:

3.) Kinfolk magazine & Darling Magazine are both two magazines that are like fine art filled with beautiful photography and the most poetic articles. These inspire me to go out and enjoy whomever or whatever I am photographing.

4.) I watch Creative Live:

5.) Tim Coulson
Sean Flanigan (
Jonas Peterson (

6.) I study photographs and I ask questions trying to figure out how it was shot. That has helped me a ton! I ask google as well as collaborate with other artists. Artist collaboration fires me up and I have learned so much about the art of photography even if we are completely different I can learn something from everyone.

You are a master storyteller! Tell us how you achieve getting to know your clients and telling their story with such great detail.

Thank you for your kindness in saying that to me. I love the narrative and the stories of people lives. Everyone is writing one. Most people are eager to share if someone will listen. Communication as with everything is key as well as Client education! So first attracting the right client is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I learned to be super honest concerning my photographic voice and vision. When I am emailing initially I direct them to my view of the narrative, wedding or family, cast a vision, and wait to see if they are smitten. If they are then the skies the limit really.

I get to know my clients by asking questions about their life and I listen to what they are saying. This could be over an email, phone chat, or a meeting or all 3. These questions aren’t rocket science, they are the generals, of how you met, where you grew up, and tell me how you fell in love. Have you lived here your whole life…etc. Then conversations are born as well as a memorable time for you and your client. You are enjoying what you are doing because you are enjoying them.

As far as the storytelling goes, I am a huge pre-visualizer. Since love and aspects of family are such a mystery to me, I want to know every aspect of it. So I think to myself, self..what would you want to remember as the bride or groom, mom or dad, or kid. I have in my head and I am sometimes a little emotional when I am photographing them. It is so rad because everyone is so unique but are composed of similar elements.With any narrative, family or wedding, we do real life. While I am shooting I engage them and I may prompt them to remember the first time she cooked him dinner, or when he saw her for the first time and knew this was it… authenticity is born!

I always try and challenge myself to tell the story or moment in 3 different ways in 10 seconds. So a 3 and 10 rule. It will keep you moving and challenge you to get a new perspective. The details, how do I do that? This one is a hard one for me, because more often I want to include more details but have to cut them. I think in the course of listening to where they are and grasping the season of life they are in depicts the details that I photograph and include. I have to say that I shoot way more than is ever published. I want people who come to my blog to see their life (family) or their wedding and hear the laugher, and feel the love. I want them to hear the table being set and the cry when she says I do. I want them to have feeling, to be there with them. That helps me when I am story telling, which photograph transports you there?

You have a HUGE Love for children. Tell us about ECHO?
ECHO. Is all about Orphans. When I began my photography business I wanted it to be about something greater. As a single gal, I am not at the place yet to adopt but wanted to participate in bringing kids home. I love how elements of the wedding/betrothal mirror adoption. I wanted KSP brides to know that on their wedding day not only was their narrative being told, but they were giving the opportunity for an orphan to have their narrative known. A portion of narrative collections goes to benefit a family that is adopting, either internationally or domestically. We focus on one family for that year. Last year we helped bring a little girl home from China. To read more about it all you can go here:
To See Shiloh you can go here:

3 Pieces of Advice for Beginning Photogs

1. Be willing to work for free to learn from photographer(s) whose style you are inspired by and even someone who is extremely different. Email them, bring them coffee, carry bags, absorb soak it up. This will help you define who you are as photographer which will help you find your niche.

2. Practice, Practice, Practice. Learn your camera! Learn exposure and watch out for those highlights. Lawd we have all been there!!

3.Being busy doesn’t equal profit. Take the time to establish yourself as your brand. Blog, post, take pictures and stay in front of peoples eyes. People will be drawn to the way you see life and photograph it. If you feel like you are losing the love, then step back and say no to something so you can say yes to what matters. This was a great article I read

What are you most proud of professionally?
Finding my niche as a storyteller.

What are your goals for the future?

I have so many…some I’m not quite ready to share.
One of them is to tell my narrative, write my story through words and photographs. It is a place that I know that God has been bringing me to over the past year. I am scared but know great potential hides in fear!
on a lighter side..
I want to go to Seattle & photograph the beast out of it.
Learn Portuguese
Run a 1/2 Marathon
Start a supper club with my sisters that involves dining together over fancy foods that I prepared while twinkle lights hang over our heads.


I am crying, smiling and so inspired! What an amazing human being! Thank you SOOO much Kristin for gracing us with your thoughtfulness and talents. Wishing you all the best in your new life on the East Coast!!




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Aimee Pettigrew -

My talented sister.