Interview with Landscape and Urban Wildlife Photographer Kate Jaconello

Kate Jaconello is a freelance photographer, specialising in landscape and urban wildlife photography. Kate lives in Greenwich, London, UK and is also a classical / new age composer.

I spoke with Kate to find out more about her fascinating career.

How did you get into photography and what made you decide to become a photographer?

I had always been into music, song writing and playing in bands, and later on became a new age/classical composer. This was my creative life from when I started to learn the piano at age 7.

Then a few years ago my dad, stepdad and step mum all had ill health at around the same time and I was finding it more difficult to dedicate my time to my composing. This coincided with me taking a few photos on my phone for fun. I had some lovely reactions and a couple of photography friends commented on me ‘having the eye’. I did really enjoy taking photos, so on impulse I went and purchased an entry-level camera. That was it; I was hooked.

My creativity had found another outlet, something I could do on the move and alongside my family commitments. It was also incredibly healing at a very difficult time. I would liken it to mindfulness, stepping into another world, and stepping out of the turbulence of the other problems going on around me. And it didn’t matter whether that was for 5 minutes or a day; it calmed me and helped me cope.

Sadly, my dad, stepdad and step mum have now all passed away. I’m glad to report my amazing mum is still here. My photography is still with me and stronger than ever. It has certainly evolved since I started just over 3 years ago, and I now have my own photography business.

What kit do you shoot with and what would you say are your essentials to have on a shoot?

I currently use an Olympus OMD EM1 Mark II as my main camera with a Pana-Leica 100-400mm lens for my wildlife photography. I also have the Olympus 12-100mm f4 M.Zuiko PRO Lens for my local landscape work.

My original camera – a little Canon Rebel and Tamron 16-300mm lens is now my travel camera.

And that’s it. I like to travel as light as possible when I go out and not be weighed down by gear or accessories. I keep it as simple as possible. The gear we use is of course important, and so is the moment. I was out walking with 1 camera and 1 lens when I took this, my best selling photo to date.

What made you start shooting wild animals, birds and insects? Is this something you’re particularly interested in?

My now first love of urban wildlife photography was a very organic development. As corny as it sounds, I believe my creativity is heart led. I just let things happen naturally. I’ve always been spiritual and I like to make a difference if at all possible; I always follow my intuition, even if it doesn’t make sense at the time. And that has all led me to taking pictures all these wonderful urban creatures.

I am by no means an expert on conservation or animal welfare, but I do hope I capture the expressions and emotions of the creatures I photograph. My photography journey is now leading me more into these areas, having had my work used by The Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation and also to be used at VegFest UK, later this year.

I love connecting with wildlife and nature. It’s exhilarating, challenging, beautiful, exciting, peaceful and so very much more, and I hope it uplifts and brings awareness to others from time to time also.

In essence, I feel my photography is a huge part of my spiritual journey and an expression of who I am at this time of my life.

Being a musician and a photographer is a fascinating combination! How do you juggle the two aspects, and do you think they compliment each other?

To be honest, my music has taken a back seat since I really got into my photography. In part this is because I’ve been building up my photography business, which now forms part of my income. Any new business and creative project takes time to nurture, and that’s where my heart is right now.

Having said that, I can see my years of music experience plays a huge role in my photography. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the pathways in the brain for music and photography are similar. And I can see how music aspects such as timing, composition, imagination, feeling and technique all cross over to photography. For me I would even possibly put timing at the top of that list in terms of importance ~ especially when anticipating a moment where if you get the timing right, it makes all the difference.

How do you get the inspiration for your photography?

I am a real extrovert in the general world, but very much an introvert when it comes down to my creativity. My inspiration simply comes from watching, listening to and feeling the wonder of the world around me, whilst also following that creative intuition that lives within me. I don’t tend to have any photography influences. I hope that doesn’t sound arrogant, it’s just I like to develop my own style and carve my own way. I am sure I’ve probably got loads of bad photography habits and I expect some of the best technicians would cover their eyes in dismay!

As a female photographer, do you feel that you face any particular challenges? Do you feel that the industry is favourable towards women, or would you like to see any particular changes?

Overall I believe the industry is certainly becoming more accepting of women, although I do perceive, from personal experience and hearing stories from other women, there is some considerable way to go. I don’t think this is purely a photography issue, but reflective of a wider issue of the ever changing world we live in and the ever changing roles of men and women and how we interact with each other.

The photography profession is more male dominated. I find wildlife photography in particular is very male dominated. Changing perception and modernising any industry takes time and conscious effort. This I believe can be achieved in many ways. For instance, by showcasing more females in the press, by having more female judges, and simply by the industry making more of an effort to work with women in general.

I also believe women have a huge role to play in this transition. Maybe there have been times where we haven’t spoken out, where we have chosen to remain quiet rather than speak our truth. We’ve all seen the huge shift with this over many professions of late. So, for me it is about us ladies continuing to own our right to be equals and to be leading lights in whatever we choose to do. In the photography world, a perfect example of women coming together to support each other and inspire each other can be found within the female photography community, SheClicks. The group was founded by the wonderful Angela Nicholson just over a year ago. Women are naturally very supportive of one another and SheClicks offers a safe space to grow, share and flourish.

As an industry, there’s still a long way to go, but at least we are on the right path.

What are you working on at the moment and do you have any particular plans for the future?

I am always looking to build my catalogue of photos and improve my photography. And I’m always looking at ways to grow my photography business and share my work with others via my physical presence on my weekend stall at Greenwich Arts and Crafts Market in London, and also via my online presence.

I also have a new project underway titled ‘Sentient Life’ (my friend and author, Louise Hatch came up with the title after hearing my vision). It will be a series of some of my photos, which I believe showcase the emotions of animals and raise awareness of their sentience. There will be tag lines to accompany the photos. I have most of the material already and now just need to put it all together and get it out in the world.

Are there any tips that you’d like to give to aspiring photographers?

Let’s start with have fun and be kind to yourself. We all take terrible photographs sometimes. Smile at your failures; rejoice at your successes.

I also learnt a long time ago that any creative endeavour will be loved by some, not liked by some and everything in between. If I’ve put my heart and soul into something and I’ve done my best, then I’ve done my part. I’ve always believed that no matter at what stage our photography and creative development is, we are all teachers and we are all students.

And finally, sing your own song and try not to compare yourself to others in the negative sense. We are all on different paths with different gifts to bring to the world. You are unique. We are all unique.

You can view Kate’s work at her website and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

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