From the islands of the Maldives, to the Serengeti bush, to the rolling hills of the Irish countryside, photographer KT Merry has traversed the globe shooting exclusive destination weddings as well as wedding and fashion editorials. KT's signature style blends her background in fine art and her years of experience assisting some of the world's most celebrated fashion photographers. She has been named a Top Wedding Photographer by Harper’s Bazaar, Martha Stewart Weddings, and The Knot, and a Rising Star by Photo District News Magazine.
I’m a native of Northern Nevada, but as a military brat, we moved a lot. I began photography in high school and won a scholarship to Hallmark Institute of Photography. After graduation, I was fortunate to find work – first, as a photographer’s assistant, and then as a production assistant and digital tech – to some of the world’s biggest names in fashion photography. It helped inform and shape my style and approach to photography. 12 years ago, I started my own photography business shooting luxury destination weddings around the world.
I’ve always loved art. I picked up a camera in high school, started shooting, and I’ve never really stopped. Life seems less fleeting when we’re able to document what we see and hold onto it, in a way, through photography. Nature and animals are two of my biggest inspirations; I’m a lifelong animal lover and equestrian. And, I appreciate beauty in all its forms. It’s why I love traveling so much – I believe you’re more open to taking in the beauty around you when you’re in unfamiliar surroundings. And with a camera in hand, you have a tangible reminder to look for the beauty that’s out there.
I always overexposure my Fuji 400H by one stop. It handles this extremely well and helps achieve a softer look. The three most important elements for me when shooting film are:
Light: I look for good light and I work to keep myself in correct exposure. I wear a light meter around my neck, and a meter often to stay aware of the need for changes in exposure. Composition: It’s crucial to “get it right in camera.” I love the 645 framing and often scan all the corners while in the viewfinder to ensure there is nothing that’s taking away from the image. Aside from straightening, my goal is to never re-crop after the fact. Consistency: Just like composition, it’s important to “get it right in camera”, which means nailing the exposure. When the lighting is changing and things are moving quickly, I still take the time to notice exposure changes, and I adjust quickly to keep the film consistent.
Film defines many of the things I love about photography. First, there’s the tempo. Film requires me to plan and think. Even shooting has a slower rhythm – I have to slow down and wait for my desired framing, which makes the entire shooting process more intentional. Next, there’s the aesthetic. I love how film interprets light and color and tones; plus, it is very kind to the skin. Finally, film has magical quality. It’s so satisfying – letting film work its magic – rather than heavily processing a photo in a post.
My professional roots are in fashion photography, and I still have foothold in that world – I love the creativity, the beauty, the attention to form and detail, the way fashion plays with concepts and culture. I’m an avid reader and a student of life, constantly devouring books or taking new classes. Curiosity is an important element of creativity, and I’m naturally curious about so many subjects. Also, I find infinite inspiration in the world around me, and our natural environment, in particular. Nothing inspires me more than nature, animals and conservation efforts.
We recently summited Kilimanjaro with clients, and we shot with both Fujifilm and digital (the x-Pro2). It was incredible to see how well they both performed in such extreme elements. We also got to film the last two Northern White Rhinos in the world at Ol Pejata Conservancy in Kenya; it was beautiful and heartbreaking all at once. You can view the series and our work with threatened species on our passion project site, Render Loyalty. This year, I’m placing extra focus on personal and editorial work, pushing myself further outside of my comfort zone than ever before. If you want to follow me on this journey, sign up for my newsletters here.
About 8 years ago, I started to steer my business in its current direction – a blend of my fashion background, my love for film, and my work photographing luxury destination weddings. I planned a Bali-inspired editorial shoot that would reflect all three. I still enjoy these images because they were the catalyst for much of my current work, and they are still an authentic representation of my style.