Katrina Parker

Katrina Parker

Photographer + Creative Director

Photography

Katrina Parker has me caught, hook line and sinker. But seriously, if there was ever a photographer that has it. Then this girl is it. Her images are like some magic carpet that transcend you. Her eyes see the world in such a decorative light, it’s electric, outer world like – it’s my favourite kind of reality. Beautiful, real… yep I’m obsessed. 

According to Wikipedia photography in Australia started in the 1840s, and RMIT University in Melbourne taught the very first photography course in 1887 as an inaugural discipline, making it the oldest ongoing photography course in the world. So does that mean that we Aussies can claim to be the masters of photography? If Kat’s work is to go by… then yes!

Imagine life behind the lens. Imagine packing your bags and flying to exotic destinations to capture moments for brands like Kinfolk and Billabong.  I am so envious. Some may say that Katrina Parker has the life, and I kind of have to agree. Growing up on the GoldCoast, Kat had an adventurous upbringing, surfing, exploring.

In her own words:

As soon as I got my driver’s license, my best friend and I would adventure up and down the coast surfing and dreaming about travelling to tropical destinations. The feeling of happiness it gave me as a teenager was indescribable and I spent most of my youth in or around the ocean. So, I guess the ocean and surfing really have shaped the person I am today.

I can not even deal with how incredible Katrina’s #careerstory is. A true path of discovery tale. 

Enough jibber jabber, let’s dive in…

Katrina, so happy that you could join us today. SO HAPPY! Let’s start at the very beginning, can you tell us where you grew up and how your experience shaped the person you are, and the career that you are in today?

I grew up on the Gold Coast in Queensland. I had a pretty adventurous upbringing that usually involved hanging out at the beach with my family or going on bush walks in the Hinterland. My mum and dad were of that generation where they would oil themselves up (pre-sun damage dangers of course) and lay on the beach for hours, while my brother and I swam in the ocean and played on the beach. Definitely not a bad way to spend our days. My dad eventually enrolled me into surfing lessons at a surf spot called Currumbin Alley when I was around 13 and from that day forward I was absolutely obsessed with the ocean.

As soon as I got my driver’s license, my best friend and I would adventure up and down the coast surfing and dreaming about travelling to tropical destinations. The feeling of happiness it gave me as a teenager was indescribable and I spent most of my youth in or around the ocean. So, I guess the ocean and surfing really have shaped the person I am today.

When I first started shooting photos, I would document my surfing adventures and beachscapes (and still do) and then when Instagram came along I’d post the photos, people then started following and liking what I was doing and then similar lifestyle brands started contacting me to shoot the same kind of stuff for them (whether it be a campaign or social media content). I guess that’s when my love for photography ended up turning into what I do for a job.

What an organic transition, and what a fabulous upbringing. Where did you go to High School and how was that experience for you?

I had the opportunity to go to both a public school and a private school on the Gold Coast and to be completely honest I didn’t really take it all that seriously. I never failed any classes, but I definitely didn’t put 100% into it like I probably should have. Overall, it was a great social experience, but in retrospect, I do wish I took the initiative to seek a little more guidance throughout my high school years.

CHECK OUT RMIT’S PHOTOGRAPHY COURSES HERE!

Did your high school play an important role in helping you choose your further education and future career?

To be honest, it didn’t at all. I had no idea what I wanted to do in high school and for many years after high school. I ended up getting a job and saved to travel around Australia in a van with my boyfriend (now fiancé) instead. We also went and lived and worked in Canada for a while after that. I didn’t actually go to University until I was around 24, I was too busy having fun to think about what I wanted to be doing with my life at that age.

Did you complete any internships or work experience placements in high school? Tell us about that experience.

I ended up finishing high school at the end of year 10 and decided to enroll into a Certificate of Business via a Traineeship. I was placed as a Junior Legal Secretary and had the opportunity to learn how a busy office operated. I would answer the phone, make coffee, do the filing, manage the lawyer’s diary and type out statements and testimonials to help ease the workload for my boss. To be completely honest, the Lawyer I was working under was fairly difficult to work for, so it was a pretty tough 12 months. I was super determined to get that certificate at the end, so I put my head down and stuck it out. In retrospect, I’m actually glad I made the decision to finish high school earlier. I personally was able to learn so much more in this role than what I would have in the classroom and I was making money at the same time.

Did you go to College, University, Tafe or another equivalent? Take us through the courses that you studied and why you chose them?

Once I started studying, I kind of couldn’t stop for a little while.

These are the courses I have completed:

  • Certificate III in Business which was completed through a traineeship
  • Advanced Diploma of Business (majoring in marketing and advertising) through TAFE
  • Bachelor of Communication (majoring in journalism and PR) through University
  • Diploma of Photography through a private college

When I was first choosing what to study, I realised that I had always been interested in the way brands and companies market themselves. I would read lots of books and articles on how brands got started and the strategies they rolled out to market certain products.

So, after my traineeship, I enrolled into a double Advanced Diploma in Business majoring in marketing and advertising. It was a super intense course, but the knowledge I took away was incredibly invaluable. We were lucky enough to have a lecturer who had spent many years working within the industry for some of the world’s largest companies and brands over in the US, Europe and then here in Australia, so I tried to gain as much information and insight from him as I possibly could. He was a great mentor and really challenged my thinking.

From there, I went to university and studied a Bachelor of Communication where I majored in Journalism and Public Relations. Once I graduated, I started looking for positions within an advertising agency and got the first job I interviewed for at a fairly large agency. I moved to Sydney straight away and started working within the industry.

FOR PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE INFORMATION PLEASE CLICK HERE!

On location with Billabong

Tell us about your career journey so far. Who you have worked for, and explain any highlights.

Well, once I finished the traineeship, I was around 18 and got a position working as an assistant for a Property Valuer. I ended up working there for around five or so years. It was actually during my time there that the Director of the company pointed out that I should consider going to university. No one in my family had been to uni and I had never been told that I should consider it. So with that advice, I decided to go off and study, which ended up being the best advice I ever received. I’m forever grateful to my boss for the guidance at the time – it really did change my life in every way possible.

Once I finished my studies, I ended up working in agency land in account service for a few years. I worked at an advertising agency at first and then later moved over to a PR agency.  I really loved it at first, however, I quickly realised that my heart wasn’t 100% in it. I really didn’t feel passionate or excited about what I was doing. I ended up staying in it for a little while longer and found myself becoming pretty miserable. I felt really stuck with what to do next as I had spent all that time studying to get to where I was. All I knew is that I wasn’t going to let fear dictate my decision to quit my job and change my career path if I wasn’t happy. At the end of the day, there really is no use staying at something if you’re not passionate about it. Another thing that really helped my decision along was the Creative Director I worked with at the time kept on telling me that I should definitely be on the creative side, rather than being a suit (as they call it), which was something that always stuck around in my mind. So with all of that, I ended up quitting my job and enrolled to study photography. My overall goal was to combine all of my past experience in marketing and advertising and put it towards the visual side of it all. I quickly realised that every little thing that I had done career-wise prior to this was only going to put me at an advantage. I think clients tend to like the fact that I’m not only creative, but I get how the industry works as a whole.

I now work full time as a photographer + creative director. My fiancé and I have our own business. He shoots motion and I shoot stills. We work with a myriad of lifestyle brands creating visual content whether it be for an advertising campaign to online and social content.

It really is an incredible feeling when you do find that one thing that you are passionate about, even if (like me) it takes you a little longer to figure it out.

Examples of Kat’s work, incredible right?

How did you get into the job that you are in now?

A lot of hard work and determination.

What is the hardest part of your current job?

The hardest part of my job (or for anyone that is running their own business) is finding that perfect work, life, balance. It literally takes everything to start from nothing, which is part of the reality of doing your own thing. It’s not easy! When we very first started, we literally worked around 98 hours per week. Since then we have managed to find a good balance, which took lots of time and patience. Or if we do find ourselves doing lots of hours we make sure we pencil time in to go travelling as our reward and break. I think if you find that thing you love it becomes more of a lifestyle rather than a standard 9-to-5 job and it makes all the long hours you put into it worth it.

What does a day a typical business day look like for you in your current job?

There’s really no typical day in what we do. When we aren’t on set shooting, this is what a day would normally look like:

  • 6:00am-9:00am – Alarm goes off and coffee machine goes on. We make breakfast and sit down to eat together. We then take our dog, Ulley, for a walk along the Bondi to Bronte coastal trail. I find that if I do my exercise first thing in the morning, it really sets up my day in a positive way. If we get down to the beach and see the waves are fun, we cut the walk short and go home and get our boards and go for a surf for an hour. After that, we get home, shower and get ready for the day.
  • 9:00am-10:00am – We go out to our studio/office, which is something we designed and had built in our backyard, so the commute time is literally 20 seconds. I typically start my day by responding to emails first thing, or go over and send off any work that needs to be delivered to the client by start of business. I also use this time in the morning to send off any invoices or quotes on any upcoming or completed projects and/or brief or touch base with any contractors we might be working with on any projects.
  • 10:00am-1:00pm – We might either be working on the pre-production stages of a shoot, which can involve anything from organising talent, crew, equipment, and locations, or it could be the more creative side such as brainstorming ideas, mood boarding and/or storyboarding. If we have any pre-production meetings on that day we typically try and schedule them outside of peak hour traffic times and get them done in morning as well.
  • 1:00pm-2:00pm – We try and go out for lunch most days. We are lucky to live in an area where we can walk down the road and get almost every food option under the sun for lunch. Depending on how busy we are we might dine in, or take it back to the studio. I find leaving the office, if only for a short time, really helps break up the day and switch off from work for a moment. In Summer, we normally have lunch out and go for a swim before getting back into work.
  • 2:00pm-6:00pm – We then move onto any post-production work that we may have on. We turn our studio into a dark space and turn emails off – so we can really get into the zone. We put on a podcast, or some really mellow music and start the selecting, editing and or retouching process.
  • 6:30pm-8:30pm – In summer, we almost always go for a sunset surf, we walk down with our boards and meet friends out in the water (this is probably my favourite thing about summer). We then come home and have a late dinner. In winter, I find that I use this time to catch up on any personal projects that I might be wanting to work on, I might update my portfolio or website and find more time to do all the things that get pushed to the side during our busy periods. We normally go to bed at around 10-10:30pm.

 

CLICK BELOW TO SEE SOME OF KAT’S WORK FOR THE CREW AT KINFOLK

Who has been your hero, or greatest inspiration growing up and why?

Definitely my fiancé Dave, he and I have been on this journey together from the very beginning. We met when I was 20 years old. We went through uni together, we have travelled together, we moved cities together and we’ve now been working together for the last four years. He inspires me in so many ways and has taught me so many things along the way. I value his opinion and he always manages to put things into perspective if I’m feeling certain stresses about work. We are both working towards the same goal and it’s really nice to go through all the challenges of starting your own business with the person you trust most in live.

What advice would you give girls who are interested in your career?

I would say:

  • Shoot as much as you can, as often as you can
  • Don’t let the thoughts and opinions of others deter you
  • Never compare your work to others
  • Always be kind and humble
  • Do one thing a day that makes you happy.

Hey Katrina, can you list your most valuable resources that you turn to constantly for inspiration in your profession?

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