“I was pushed into photography,” Stacey Kane says in her characteristic straightforward yet self-effacing style.
With very little planning and the encouragement of admirers, Kane’s transformation from photo hobbyist to full-fledged wedding photojournalist was not part of a pre-planned career path. In fact, she says that she is “forever grateful” to her friends, family and the complete strangers who offered everything from suggestions to forthright pleas that she become a professional photographer.
That cumulative “push” has clearly been a good thing for the Maine, USA-based WPJA member, judging by the multiple awards and magazine coverage that her photography has received in the mere six years since she began shooting professionally. And she would be the first to admit that she needed a nudge (or many nudges) in order to begin taking her work seriously.
While her portfolio is testament to her discerning eye for capturing timeless moments, she was the last one to see that. She says, “I never set out to be a photographer nor did I anticipate it…my friends and family were definitely more convinced of my abilities than I was!”
Planning and mapping, anticipating and preparing is simply not Kane’s style. This has worked to her advantage. Her career trajectory from scrapbooking enthusiast to award-winning photographer, has been an absolute surprise and delight to her. Kane says that she could not have planned out her career in wedding photography any better than it has turned out. Her clients are ideal and she loves her work. It shows.
Kane says that she has always had a camera in hand. Even as a young girl, she was frequently photographing the kids in her neighborhood. Recently, she was reminded of this when a childhood friend requested that she photograph her wedding. (Through multiple emails, both eventually realized that they in fact had known one another as children.) At the wedding, Kane brought a picture she had taken of the woman when she was only nine years old.
Before she started taking pictures professionally, Kane worked in the wedding industry, marketing various wedding proprietors to brides and grooms. In her spare time, she enjoyed scrapbooking. A woman who had seen her work insisted Kane show it to a friend of hers. After admiring the book, the woman insisted that she hire her to photograph her family. It took some persistence, but Kane eventually accepted. Part of her reticence was due to the fact that she was three days past the due date for her third child. A trooper at heart, Kane arrived at the photo session, on the beach no less, where she trudged through the sand with her equipment. Luckily, her son waited a few days.
Kane’s story has been one of a blossoming talent and the many people who have been impacted and have gravitated towards her work. After her first job, word of her work spread throughout town and very quickly she was spending her weekends photographing children and families. Though, she says, “I swore I would never photograph a wedding. I had been in the industry for so long and I felt like I was done with it.” That all changed after the first nuptials she photographed.
Awarded second place in a WPJA Ceremony category, her photograph of the bride and groom leaning into one another conveys the intimacy and affection felt between the two. Kane was in the back of the church when she took this picture. “I don’t like to be noticed,” she says, which clearly does not interfere with her ability to reflect the most intimate of moments in her work.
It’s no surprise that Kane had to be coaxed into the job. The couple who hired her had seen her work at a friend’s house, and insisted that she document their big day. At the time, she expected it to be her first and last wedding. Yet, the whole experience was so fantastic that afterwards she says that there was no turning back.
Kane’s tendency not to plan out and rehearse her life translates directly into her approach to photography. Ideally, she hasn’t seen the venue ahead of time and she never plans out what, when or how she’ll photograph the event. Then, when the event gets underway, she is nothing less than a virtuoso, reacting to the ever-changing lighting, mood and action surrounding her. Her subjects make myriad impromptu decisions throughout the course of the day, and Kane is ready to capture the moment when their expression or activity meets the right angle and the perfect lighting, creating a great image.
Fifth place award-winner in a WPJA Humor category, her photograph of the little girl sliding underneath the woman’s legs showcases Kane’s ability to react quickly to the activity surrounding her. A Beatles cover band was playing and the mood was fun and high-spirited. Of the photo, she says, “I happened to turn around and she happened to be coming underneath at the same time.”
As a rule, she finds that when you plan out everything, you’re not prepared when something goes awry and subsequently, you’re thrown off course, so to speak. Going into a situation unscripted is a mark of her creativity. Stacey has an ability to make decisions very quickly, to react on the fly and capture that emotionally charged moment.
Another WPJA award winner of the couple standing underneath the great trees, in front of a lake, has garnered Kane a lot of attention. After a number of magazines bid on it, Kane accepted an offer from Martha Stewart Weddings to feature the shot, along with a series of photographs taken during the same wedding.
In all her modesty, Kane would probably say that she just happened to take an award-winning photograph. Though the many admirers of her work know that there’s nothing coincidental about it. Stacey Kane’s talent is true and immutable.
—by Lauren Ragland for the Wedding Photojournalist Association
Photo Credit: WPJA Member Caroline Johnson (Portrait of Stacey Kane)