Kiara McKinley took second place honours in the Festival of the Arts’ Photo Competition – Youth Category, in 2019. She was 16 years old.
In this series we feature interviews and discussions with Individual Artists, Leaders of Arts Groups and Organizations, Civic Leaders, and other Arts Lovers in our county.
Today, Cynthia Reyes interviews Kiara McKinley about entering photography contests and her joys and dreams as a photographer.
Q: What drew you to photography and when?
A: I’ve been interested in photography since I was a little kid. I’ve always had an appreciation for the arts. My maternal grandfather has been interested in photography for as long as I can remember, and his love of it definitely cultivated my interest for it at a young age. I enjoyed going to places with him to take photos, and looking at the photos he had taken throughout the years. He was the one who got me my first camera. Actually, it’s still the one I use to this day.
Q: What do you get from your photography and what do you put into it?
A: The memories I have of myself and my grandfather have kept photography close to my heart throughout the course of my life so far. It is a beautiful way to capture a moment. As a visual person, I love looking back on these captured memories and remembering the moments surrounding the time I took them. Having the ability to capture an image that I feel is important to remember is incredible.
I enjoy being brought back to the memory of the feelings, sounds, and even smells of the moment in which I took a photo (Think: flowers and fresh air). I believe that the reminder of that moment is why I enjoy photography so much as well.
Q: How did you feel when you entered your work into the Northumberland Festival of the Arts’ Photo Competition?
A: I remember feeling a little nervous about it, honestly. I believe that it was the first competition for photography I have ever entered. I was actually a bit surprised to hear back that I got second place, especially since it was my first competition. Nevertheless, I was obviously thrilled to hear the results. The results were really encouraging, and I am very appreciative of those who chose my work to place in the top three.
Q: Why are photo competitions like this one important?
A: Photo competitions and a festival like this can encourage young people to get into photography. As it can be difficult to get into the arts, the exposure that people can get from this can jumpstart the development of their possible career within it. Young people can be exposed to different people’s work. This can include learning about different photography styles, subjects, and in festivals they may be able to speak directly to the photography themselves.
Q: What have you done lately?
A: Lately I’ve been working on taking photos around sunset out in the countryside. It’s been a series of trial and error with making sure that the exposure is just right. I haven’t yet downloaded those photos from my camera. I’ve also taken quite a few pictures of plants and flowers. Overall, I’ve been really enjoying taking photos of nature.
Q: What are your dreams as a photographer?
A: I hope to continue photography throughout my life. It is both fulfilling and important to me. I have a lot of appreciation for the craft, and being able to create art is a big part of my life. The hobbies I have always loved the most are those within the arts, and I hope to continue them for a long time.
I enjoy photography quite a lot and while I may not do it professionally, I can still share it with those around me. I would say that my main goal in terms of photography is to continue to learn more about it and be able to grow my skill set. In the future, I may consider doing it professionally.
Q: How did COVID affect your photography or your ability/inspiration to take photos?
A: COVID definitely kept me close to home much more than I ever was prior to it. I often took more close-up photos in my backyard of plants and flowers, and anything I could find from walks around my neighbourhood. The circumstances which we have been in with COVID have encouraged me to really pay attention to the beauty close to and around my home in terms of what I can photograph.