Click, click, click: the only sounds to be heard as Kate Purdy’s delicate fingers press down on the button of the camera as she quickly snaps shots.
“Now turn your head a little to the left, look up, and… perfect,” the young woman sweetly says as she instructs the client how to pose. Recently new to the job, Purdy has made a name for herself at a young age as she has begun her future as a photographer, starting up her own business.
A sophomore at John Brown University, Purdy is majoring in graphic design and photography. Also a resident assistant for the all-girls dormitory, Mayfield, the young photographer has even had the chance to get some extra experience. She often tests out her photography skills on the girls who reside on her hall or in the building.
Rebekah Lindstrom, a freshman at the University, modeled for one of Purdy’s projects.
“While photographing me she was very professional about it and didn’t pressure me into any certain poses and worked very well with me on the poses that I wanted,” Lindstrom described. “I was really impressed with her skills.”
This past summer, Purdy began receiving positive feedback for her photography and had people seeking her out to view pictures. Due to this, Purdy created a Facebook page strictly for her work. In the process, she came up with a watermark for her pictures and a business name, Kate Purdy Photography or KP Photography.
“At first, I was only doing some simple things like a few senior picture sessions, so the page started out as a simple way for people to see my pictures, instead of going to my personal page and having to search to try to find them,” she said. “The page had only around 20 likes when I created it, but then people started encouraging me to charge for the photo shoots.”
With a budding confidence, Purdy decided to start charging people for photography sessions. This last summer, she scheduled around 25 photo sessions and made around $1,300 from the pictures.
“From creating the Facebook page, people started talking and next thing I know, it’s turned into a business,” Purdy explained.
Amy Pomeroy, a freshman at John Brown and longtime friend, agreed that Purdy has the makings of a great photographer.
“She does a great job at giving direction when shooting the pictures and coming up with a creative variety of different locations and poses if you need her to,” Pomeroy said. “She also has a great personality when working with the people because she is so funny and does a good job at making her clients feel comfortable during the photo sessions.”
It was the summer after her senior year of high school though, with a little rinky-dink camera in the country of Zimbabwe, when Purdy decided she wanted to spend her life as a photographer.
Purdy said that growing up she thought she wanted to be a teacher, but after spending the summer capturing moments of the local African children, she saw that, “God had a different route for my life.”
Along with her father, brother-in-law and a team of people from her church, Purdy spent over a week living in a village in Zimbabwe on a missions trip. Throughout the week she helped provide medical assistance, construct buildings and document and capture pictures of the happenings going on every day.
“There is just so much you can take and learn from capturing a moment of someone,” Purdy remembered.
When they arrived back home from Zimbabwe, Purdy put together a small presentation of the pictures she had taken while on the trip—It was then that she realized how much she enjoyed photography.
Growing up, Purdy said she was always the artsy one of the family. “My older brother is a bio engineer and my younger sister is studying architecture,” Purdy said. “So I came to love photography all on my own, since no one in my family had had a previous interest.”
While in Africa, Purdy noticed she not only loved photography, but also had a heart for missions. Previously unsure of which direction she wanted to go with in the photography business, this trip helped make the decision.
“I wanted to have my own studio at first, but that switched after I went to Africa,” Purdy expressed. “I knew then that I definitely didn’t want to get involved in the commercialism route of the photography business.” Purdy added that she did not think that there was anything wrong with that side of the business, but only that she knew it was not the way for her.
“I want to have a higher purpose and be able to give back and glorify the kingdom of God,” Purdy said. “That’s why my heart is more in the direction of missions or ministry photography. Maybe on down the road I wouldn’t mind having my own studio as a side job, but not as my first choice starting out with my career.”
With a big smile on her face, she concluded that, “God willing, it’s my lifelong dream to work as a photographer on the mission’s field in Africa, hopefully someday I will.”
As she continues on her journey here, Purdy hopes to get an internship doing on-field media, preferably in Africa; achieving her dream of becoming a working photographer in ministry.