Capturing photos of newborn babies in vintage hats, senior students posing at their favorite haunts and blushing brides on their special day are just a few of the specialties of Plattsmouth’s newest photographer, Kristen Leigh Stromsodt.
This self-taught camera bug opened Kristen Leigh Photography studio in January on Main Street in Plattsmouth.
Kristen Leigh, however, didn’t start her professional photography career with the opening. “I’ve been doing it since about 2005,” she said.
Her interest developed during her 13-year career as an educator including 10 years as a school counselor and three years as an elementary teacher.
“Photography was never in my life plan, but when I gave birth to my first child, I started taking pictures of him and I couldn’t stop.”
When friends saw her work, they would ask her to take photographs of their family as well.
“I started investing in equipment and then it just blew up on its own,” she said. “It’s a lot of work and a lot of learning. I’m 100 percent self-taught. I read and read and did tutorials. It definitely did not happen overnight. I call it the talent I never new I had.”
This year marks the first year Kristen Leigh has not worked in education and done the photography jobs on the side.
“It’s been awesome,” she said. “But it wouldn’t be possible without my husband Derek. He’s been there 100 percent for me.”
What helps Kristen Leigh get those unique shots is her bubbly personality, which enables her to quickly set her subjects at ease.
“One of the compliments I get is, ‘I can’t believe you got my kid to pose that way,’” she said. “All those years in teaching makes me people comfortable.”
Although she’s open to all types of photography, this mother of six children likes to specialize in photographing newborns, children and families.
“Newborns are my pride and joy. I started doing senior portraits again, which is a lot of fun. I also do weddings. I love weddings. I think they are fun,” she said.
For weddings and other photo shoots, Kristen Leigh takes formal and candid shots. Her clients receive a CD with all the images she takes.
“I don’t sell prints. Everything is digital,” Kristen Leigh explained. “That way they don’t have to pick and choose. The pricing is simple and easy. One price for one CD. Even with weddings and seniors, they get it all.”
Kristen Leigh will go on location for photo shoots or people can have them done in the studio.
“Clients don’t really have to bring me anything but themselves or their kids. I have an insane amount of props and hats,” she said. “I’m always trying to keep up with the newest trends.”
Although her newborn photos lean toward the Anne Geddies-style, Kristen Leigh takes pride in offering her clients a one-of-a-kind portrait.
“I never copy someone else’s look. I always try to make everything unique to me,” she said.
Kristen Leigh also volunteers her photo skills in a poignant but unique way. “I do volunteer work for Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Bereavement Photography. I’ve done that since about 2005.”
For parents who have a stillborn or lose their child at such an early age, the photographs are more than a way to preserve their memory of the child. “Sometimes it’s all they have,” she said.
Before opening her studio, Kristen Leigh had to repaint, re-carpet and redo the bathroom facilities in the former home to Irene’s on Main Street. But she was determined to have the studio in Plattsmouth, a small town with a big heart. Now, she has three areas to work in: newborn, toddler and family.
“It’s the perfect space for me. I love being here,” she said.
Her parents, Linda and Terry Hinze, even moved to Plattsmouth after Kristen and her husband did.
“They followed me here. They also enjoy the small town feel,” she said.
Kristen-Leigh is available by appointment only but is willing to take photos during the week and weekends. Call 402-651-5983; visit her Website: www.Kristen-LeighPhotography.com; or email her at Kristen.Leigh.Photography@hotmail.com for more information.