Home KIDS Behind the lens: turning moments into memories

Behind the lens: turning moments into memories

With a passion that lies in fine art child photography, hotshot local photographer, Penny Katz spends her days turning special moments into beautiful memories.

A mother of four and grandmother of three, Penny found her purpose in life when she found photography. “Photography has always held a very special place in my life and connects me to my family and those I love the most. I spent years scrapbooking photographs and creating memories for my family and, the older I get, the more I have realized the value of an image. My parents died when I was young and photographs are the only memories I have of them, which is what ultimately drove me to help others by capturing their own memories to treasure.”

Penny discovered her love for the lens when she was young. Her brother had passion for landscape and bird photography as a hobby, so she grew with images as part of her life. Naturally, it rubbed off on her.

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Photo by: Christopher Laurenz Photography

“The moment I became a mother was the moment I truly fell in love with capturing moments. Like my brother, I did it as a hobby for 27 years. When I was retrenched six years ago, a friend suggested I do what I love as a living. I started Penny Katz Photography the following week, converted our garage into a studio and, as they say, the rest is history. I now have a beautiful spacious studio, in Hirsch’s Head Office, which caters to everything from newborns, cake smashes, families etc. I am self-taught, and do every course I can to improve as I am a firm believer that a person can never know too much.”

Describing her style as out-of-the-box passionate, with an element of fun and fantasy, Penny photographs with her heart. She motions to a photo of a very old worn out takkie that was used for a fundraising drive and inspired the Shoe Drive for the Robinhood Foundation.
It’s this kind of thing that gives her the greatest joy, never mind the fact that her images have been used on the covers of 15 magazines and adorn the walls of locals far and wide. She’s affiliated with Professional Photographers SA and the International Newborn Photography Association and has also done a lot of volunteer photography for other publications and organisations including Mums Mail and the Sunflower Fund.

“My attitude to photography is all about being humble. I follow international trends as they are always leaps and bounds ahead of us, I shoot with passion and always have fun with the people I work with. It defines who I am as an artist.”

Armed with a Nikon 5600 and primarily a 50mm lens, which she rarely removes, Penny captures anything put to her, but her passion lies in photographing newborns, cake smashes and young children, because she believes everything she captures during these shoots is real.

“I find a lot of inspiration in photographic greats like Anna Brandt, Anne Geddes, Kelly Brown and Annie Leibovitz to name a few, but ultimately I want to have my own unique style – one which people can both appreciate and talk about.”

Penny’s photos of children are very inspiring with a style that is somewhere in between photography and fantasy, as she aims to capture image that people feel a deep connection to. “As we grow up we tend to lose our imagination and I just love bringing it back. Just last week I had a middle aged woman in Joburg request a fantasy image of herself. This was such a reminder to me that fantasy is for all ages. I love to expose an emotional moment, in the same way that an impressionist painter wishes to paint.”

And the secret behind taking a good portrait? “Passion,” Penny says. “Every child is different and I try to respect their differences. To me, taking a good portrait, regardless of the age of the subject, is to portray the individual’s emotion. The hardest shoot I ever did was with a child who was stillborn. The mother had one image of him and asked me to create fantasy images for her. I cried the entire time and yet it was also the most rewarding thing I have ever done, as I know this mother gets to see her baby in a beautiful fantasy forever.”

When it comes to post-processing techniques, Penny edits each image individually in Photoshop, with massive effort placed on keeping the photo looking clean and real.

“I don’t ever want someone to look at an image and not recognize themselves. With the fantasy images, each one is a unique work of art that takes up to four hours to do from beginning to end – it is not a simple cut and paste. There will never be two images exactly the same.”

Interesting people she’s enjoyed photographing include Beauty Ramapelepele aka Ben Voss, Darren Maul, Margaret Hirsch, and Yuveka Moonsamy to name a few.

“Regardless of who I have photographed, the biggest compliment for me is that they chose me from hundreds of other photographers out there. A newborn client for me tops the list though, as the parents are entrusting me – a complete stranger – to hold and care for their newborn baby, and to capture incredible memories for them. What better compliment could there be!”

Details: www.pennykatzphotography.myportfolio.com, Facebook: Penny Katz Photography

Instagram: pennykatzphotography, You Tube: Penny Katz Photography


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