Utah Fashion Photographer: Chroma Editorial by Kirsten Leslie

This year I’ve been focusing on creating new work, and in this journey I’ve been looking for more creative outlets in order to help me reach this goal. One of my favorite exercises from the year so far has been planning shoots based around magazine prompts. They get my brain working in a different way, and I love coming up with creative solutions to these ideas. This shoot was born originally from a prompt given by Lucy’s magazine, a popular and prolific fashion magazine. The prompt was to photograph a beauty shoot based around glitter, pastels and shapes. My colleague and I, Whitney Finuf, took this prompt to heart and planned a shoot filled to the brim with pastel colors and urban shapes. We named this shoot Chroma.

The team we pulled together for this shoot was absolutely incredible and totally came through with our vision for this shoot. Huge shout out the Warpaint Makeup Academy, which is a fantastic makeup school based in Salt Lake City. The owner, Kate Giddings, put together a fantastic team with a makeup assistant and a hair stylist. Dani and Olivia did a great job and worked within the tight schedule we had to get everything shot that we wanted to. Both of our models were fierce and brought their a-game to the shoot which resulted in the fantastic images which resulted. Whitney and I sourced the wardrobe from Express and Zumiez, along with footwear from Adidas and Doc Martens.

Models: Mo @moee.m and Madeline @madelinerebeccaa

Head Makeup Artist: Warpaint Makeup Academy @warpaintmakeupacademy and Kate @kategiddings

Makeup Assistant: Dani @dani_dollface28

Hair Stylist: Olivia @oliviaroxb

Wardrobe: Zumiez @zumiez and Express @express

Footwear: Adidas @adidas and Doc Martens @docmartens

Co-Stylist and Co-Photographer: Whitney @whitney.finuf

This shoot was meant to burst with color from start to finish. Fully saturated, punchy pastel tones contrast with the urban edge and strong shapes. All of the images project energy: in the color, posing, and shapes. This shoot celebrates downtown streetwear, urban attitude, and saturated, bright tones.


This shoot was a party from beginning to end, helped along by the musical phenom Cardi B whose work became the anthem for the shoot day. I’ve been pumped to share these images that our fantastic team created! Like what you see? Send me a message here to get started with your project!

How University Made Me a Better Photographer by Kirsten Leslie

Education, specifically University education, can be a bit of a controversial subject in the art world. There are many famous artists who were never formally educated in their craft, but many who were. For me, I found it a catalyst to my career and a vital piece of the photographer I have become. Today, I am graduating with my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Photography, Magna Cum Laude from Utah Valley University. It’s been a long road to get here, but absolutely so worth it. Read on to see my top 5 reasons University made me a better photographer!

Learning All Types of Photography

When I started school, I had actually set in my mind that I wanted to be a wedding, portrait and family photographer. I think back to that now and that desire definitely had a lot to do with where I live and the type of photographers I’m surrounded by. In the program I attended at Utah Valley University, we were required to take classes on various different photography topics. We had a history class that was based all around the birth of photography and the key players who have molded photography into what it is today. This exposed me to many different styles and techniques that I hadn’t ever been in contact with before. I took classes on fine art photography, documentary photography, film photography, black and white photography and color photography, all while practicing these different techniques. I did really well in my classes and soaked everything up. But it wasn’t until I took my first studio lighting class that everything clicked for me and I started to get passionate about what I was shooting.

I do believe that I would never have found the studio outside of University. I found something I truly love and connect with because I was in an environment where experimenting was encouraged, and I was given a thirst for learning.


Working with People

The people I came in contact with during this academic journey have held a huge role in the photographer I have become, but also the business woman and person. Working with people is a huge part of being a creative in the industry, and it can be hard. Balancing ideas, working collaboratively, and working with different motivations can be difficult. I am grateful that I got such good practice in my classes to work with students who had different ideas and professors who were difficult because they wanted to see me push myself and succeed. Out of these situations, I gained a more well rounded view of what photography could be, further realized my place in this vast world, and made a lot of friends.

I can’t go on without mentioning a certain professor who I have to thank in large part for the photography that I currently am with the goals for the future I have. John was my studio lighting and photo business professor. From the time I was a sophomore on, I had classes from him. He is wicked smart, has decades of experience, and has such a fun personality. He is one of those great professors you hear about who have fantastic careers but love molding the minds of people just starting out. I’m so glad he was my professor. I loved studio lighting from the beginning, but I know part of it was his personality and him as a professor doing everything he could to help me succeed. There’s no way I would be the photographer I am without his influence, and man oh man I’m so glad I’m the photographer I am.


Defending My Ideas

I was pretty shy, although coming out of my box, when I started University. School was great for me because I had to learn to have reasons for everything I did in a photograph, and defend them. That was a hard process at first, but I came to really enjoy it. Knowing that I would have to defend all of my artistic decisions made me think about photographing my assignments differently. I learned to pay attention to all 4 corners of my frame, to balance the colors how I wanted, and how to communicate the ideas I wanted to. It was a hard learning curve for sure, one that I probably wouldn’t have gone through on my own (to this same level), but one that has totally shifted the way I see the world. I now know how to come up with a distinct concept and come out with an end product that matches what I wanted. Sometimes, as I am working on a piece of work, things will shift from my original intent. These are my favorite moments, because it is adding to the depth of my work and skills and making me a better photographer.

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Going with the Second or Third Idea

I get really excited about things. Many times I would be assigned a project and be so excited about it, I would think of an idea and go out there and make it happen. Sometimes, this worked really well. Most of the time, however, it ended with a critique from my professors or fellow students that while the original idea was a good one, it just hadn’t been pushed far enough. This was a really hard thing for me to learn! I just wanted to get out there and shoot it already, so taking more time to brainstorm at the beginning of a project was really hard for me at first. Now it’s one of my favorite personal challenges to get inspired and come up with a great idea, and then figure out how to push it further. As I’ve been doing this process for years now, I can absolutely say my work has taken an exponential rise. Looking at my first studio product pieces to where they are currently headed is a fun thing to look back on. Challenging myself to be more creative from the beginning has been a huge reason my work has taken such a distinct personality on.


Taking Advantage of Opportunities

University, and school in general, is a great time to take advantage of many opportunities. Student discounts on everything from food to equipment to housing exist to help you in this journey, and I made it a goal of mine to take advantage of as many of these as possible. I ended up going on 2 study abroad experiences with my photography professors and fellow students, as well as 1 local trip with everyone. These experiences were based around creating fine art books, so I got to see the larger picture of how a big collaborative project comes together while earning required credits as I traversed through the United Kingdom. It was awesome. And even though I was shooting landscapes instead of my regular studio stuff, I was using a camera for many hours every day. Just putting in the time taking images and trying my best to make them impactful absolutely had a positive effect on my overall photographic eye and my studio work.

My academic journey was filled with countless In-N-Out runs, tears and frustrations. But it was all worth it to get to the place I am today! I hope these lessons from my time at University have been helpful to you! If you have more questions about anything I’ve mentioned today, send me a message here or email me at hello@knicolephoto.com. I’d love to talk more about my University experience with you!

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Utah Product + Fashion Photographer: The Importance of a Contractor Sheet by Kirsten Leslie

I’ve mentioned before the importance of working with other vendors, and the value that comes with doing so. Keeping track of these people can be harder than you think, resulting in knowing there’s someone you’ve been wanting to work with, but you can’t remember their name or where you found them.

There’s no set way to make a contractor sheet, but having a place where everything is in the same place is important. I keep my contractor sheet in an Excel document, but you can also keep things written down in a notebook (as long as it stays organized), in a word document of some kind, or even in a physical binder. The most important thing is that you can have a place for vendor name, their contact information, any notes and then a list of all times you’ve contacted them or worked with them. Do they have an agency you need to work with? Where are they located? Put in as much information about them as you can! That will help you to remember who they are later on when you have any entries in your sheet. I also use a color coding system on the vendor names to keep track of who I have worked with before, who are my first priorities to work with next, etc. Since I’m a visual person, that helps me to see at a glance which people I should try to work with first.

So what kind of contractors are included in my sheet? I have models, makeup artists, hair stylists, stylists, fashion designers (local, national and international), beauty, fashion and product publications that I’d like to submit to, prop stylists, prop vendors, and then any other people who I would like to include in my work.

Having a contractor sheet is also helpful, because you are able to see in what areas you need to build more contacts, and that’s also good to keep track of. You don’t want to depend on only one or two hair artists to be available every time you want to shoot. It’s a great visual to be able to see where you need to build up contacts, and have a good long list of backup contractors in case your first, second, or even third picks for a shoot aren’t available.

Have any questions about making your own contractor sheet? Let’s talk about it!


One of my goals for this year has been to create work that I’m really proud of, and to build a solid portfolio that can help to start to getting me work I am really excited about. First things first, I need to say a big thank you to my friend Whitney Finuf who first invited me to be a part of this shoot. She’s one of my dear friends and a fantastic fashion photographer, so I was honored that she invited me to be a part of it.

We had a killer team that came together and the images reflect that. They turned out amazing! Big thank you first off to NIYA, a fantastic local modeling agency. They sent us a fantastic list of models we could use for this shoot, and we ended up with some stellar talent. Leila and Sherlyn were so fun to work with! Our makeup artist, Kailie, did such a great job working with our vision for the shoot and she totally nailed what we were going for! We got to work with Bree Lena for our wardrobe, which was a huge honor because she is one of Utah’s most influential fashion designers and her work is stunning. I have been following her for a long time on Instagram, waiting for the right time to work with her, and this shoot fit the bill!

Models: Leila and Sherlyn with NIYA

Makeup Artist: Kailie Breitenstein @kailie.makeupartist

Wardrobe: Bree Lena @breelena

This shoot was inspired by spring, and how it gradually appears. We used that as our story, splitting our shoot into 3 different looks to show that progression. We started with the most simple looks, emphasizing organic shapes and forms, and playing around with some loose florals.


Next up, we had Kailie help us adhere flowers to the model’s faces, to show the transition into early Spring.


Then we combined the model’s floral looks with Bree Lena’s stunning to design to create a visual representation of Spring in full bloom.


This was one of those shoots where I was beaming the entire shoot, and then I left feeling on top of the world and so excited. I immediately went home and started culling my images because I couldn’t wait to see what I created with our killer team. Are you looking for images like these for your brand? Send me a message here and let’s get talking!




It’s no secret that connections in artistic (or any) industries are necessary for recognition and growth. This can be an overwhelming feat, as so many people are involved in fashion shoots: technicians, assistants, stylists, art and creative directors, wardrobe stylists, hair and makeup, models, modeling agencies, and photographers. All of these positions aren’t needed for every shoot, however. If you’re just starting out, you can put on quality fashion photoshoots with a key group of connections.

  1. Models

    This is an obvious one, but vital to the strength of your portfolio. Models aren’t just pretty people, they are trained and experienced in how to move their bodies and communicate ideas. The best thing I have done for my fashion photography career is to work with people who know what they are doing. There are a myriad of ways to find these people. Instagram is a great resource, both with looking up actual accounts as well as researching Instagram hashtags. Look at local vendors who work with people you’d like to work with, and check out the accounts they tag of other vendors, as well as search the hashtags they use. You can find a lot of really great models this way! Find the model you’d like to work with, send them a nice message and stunning moodboard, and you’ll have a great chance of working with them! Note that some models may not do collaboration shoots. You can find someone else for the shoot, or if they really are perfect for the shoot, save up the money to book them for the time you need. You won’t be disappointed, and it’ll look fantastic in your portfolio.

  1. Stylists

    I think stylists are underrated sometimes. It can be easy to see pictures on Instagram or Pinterest and think, “I could do that, easy.” But the truth of the matter is stylists have honed their creative skills to take images you show them or descriptive words and create something unique and interesting. Not to say that you can’t style your own shoots, but there is an ease that comes from working with someone talented and knowing that it will turn out great. Plus, then you have more time to make a killer shot list and source props for the shoot.

  2. Hair Artists

    It’s obvious that makeup is necessary to good fashion photography, but the hair is sometimes overlooked. I have been guilty of this sometimes, too, which results in having fantastic makeup with hair that falls flat (literally). Having a hair artist to place everything exactly the way you want it is so important, and it saves you editing time. There is nothing more monotonous than editing out stray hairs for an hour on a single image. Save yourself the time and work with someone awesome in the process!

  3. Makeup Artists

    Makeup artists make or break photoshoots. Good makeup artists can make the whole photoshoot beautiful, while a bad makeup artist can ruin the shoot and make skin editing arduous and painful. Makeup for photoshoots is different than makeup for normal life, so make sure to find a makeup artist who does makeup for photos well. Especially studio lighting can enhance skin texture and blemishes, but a good makeup artist knows how to minimize these imperfections and enhance the natural beauty of the model.

  4. Other Photographers

    Motivation to put on a lot of shoots and collaborate with people for a shoot can be overwhelming and difficult. I have loved working with industry colleagues to help me plan many shoots, and it has done wonders for my productivity. This way, I can share any financial responsibilities, collaborator responsibilities, creative processing, and prop shopping / styling (if applicable). Plus, working with a colleague helps keep me motivated to shoot more, accountable to deliver photos on time (and to all vendors), and going big with submitting to more publications. My work has taken a significant turn for the better since working closely with other photographers.


Not all of these vendors are necessary for a good shoot, but they will help you network, work smarter and produce better quality work. Plus, you never know where these connections will lead to later in life, and what opportunities will arise because of them.



Hello and welcome to my blog! My name is Kirsten and I’m a beauty product and fashion photographer. I’m so excited to have you with me on this journey, so I can share with you my creative musings and work I’m really proud of. I love my job! Getting to work with a range of clients and create imagery specific to their brand is my favorite part of my job.

Some things that are really important to me are color (as you will see everywhere in my work), travel and family. Pure, saturated colors are my absolute favorite, although there is a time and a place for softer tones. I am so inspired by travel not only because of the different places I get to see complete with new and exciting cultures, food and architecture (although that is a big part), but also because of the opportunity it gives me to come into contact with more art. All art, but especially modern art, really inspires me and get me thinking in a new and innovative way. Duchamp and Rothko are among my favorite modern artists, but the list of all my favorites are pretty long. I’m going to make a blog post later of my favorite modern pieces and how they inspire new work of my own. My ideal day would be to spend the morning in a modern art museum, finish it off with brunch, and then go create some work inspired from that mornings introspection.

I love trying to push the limits of my work. I am grateful for every experience to enhance my creativity, problem solving, and working with clients. My work is always changing and evolving to better fit the needs of my clients. My style is distinctive and clean, and will allow your product and brand to speak for itself in an interesting visual way.

For all of you here at this point of my business and journey, a big thank you! I am honored to have you here and I hope we get the opportunity to collaborate on a project soon.


HIGHLIGHTS OF NYFW FALL 2019 by Kirsten Leslie

Just a few days ago, New York Fashion Week finished up. NYFW boasted many different styles from a variance of designers. One of the trends this round through I noticed were the streamlined designs and an emphasis on COLOR. I am big fan of color, so this was very exciting for me. I’m always looking for fun, bright clothes to wear so with such a big showing at Fashion Week this time around, I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to find more exciting clothes options for myself soon. Plus, there was a lot of lines that reminded me of influential modern art pieces, which got me really excited. Modern art and color are among my favorite things, so NYFW Fall 2019 had so much that inspired me. Check out my favorite looks below!



It’s obvious that Emily Bode’s work has a distinct reference from the past. Light, saturated colors are complimented by darker tones and movement of the individual pieces. What really shines in her collection to me is the textures she uses. She has big, chunky knits paired with sleek, shiny fabrics that creates a distinct style and look. My favorite piece from her new collection is the bold color blocked pant suit. To me, it has direct art references to the work of Piet Mondrian, and even some ode to Georges Seurat.



In this collection, you’ll also notice a similar color blocked motif as was mentioned above in Bode’s collection. Out of this whole collection, my favorite is definitely that color blocked piece. Although, her other work is very monochromatic, which also makes a big impact. The detailing of those works are stunning, and I love how she added contrast with her hair and makeup.



Tom Ford is among my favorite designers right now, because he is so over the top and distinctly himself. His collection here at NYFW was no different this time. He had these gorgeous velvet blazers paired with velvet turtlenecks and satin pants. Plus, his outfits were mostly monochromatic! Similar to Pablo Picasso’s Blue Phase, Ford took a warm color scheme through all this pieces to connect them as a collection. Brilliant.



Last but not least, I was really hit with Jacobs’s use of texture and proportion in his collection. While the base is really simple, it has been made a masterpiece (in my eyes) through his use of a contrasting pattern and making the arms really interesting. There is so much to look at in this dress, which I appreciate. My favorite looks are the ones that show something different when you’re far away versus up close.

(All images by Corey Tenold)