We had the good fortune of connecting with Kaya Munn and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kaya, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
One of the motivating factors in creating my brand and marketing exclusively to show and appeal to women of all ages, races, sizes, and stories, was a conscious decision I made to make each woman I photograph feel worthy, appreciated, and absolutely beautiful just as they are, not as society tells them they should be.
I have spent my entire professional life either in front of, or behind a camera, and have been on the receiving end more times than I can count of being told I was too fat when I was essentially not eating to make my modeling weight, too old when I was 18 because the industry preferred models at 15-16, and being given lists of the physical attributes I needed to change in order to succeed in the entertainment industry. While my experience was partially the product of my career choice, it has also been the product of a societal belief system still entrenched today, that it’s somehow appropriate to dictate a woman’s worth and value based on her physicality, and the hierarchy of what ages, weights, skintones, and features our society deems valuable. My clients come to me with these same insecurities, and holding onto the emotional scars they’ve endured over their lifetime, however long that is, of being told they’re not beautiful and desirable exactly as they are, in whatever stage of life they’re in. I have 17 year old clients who think they’re not good enough, and I have 80 year old clients who feel the same way. I see it as my mission and privilege to give each of these women an experience of a lifetime and heirloom quality images to match, in which they have never felt and looked more confident and beautiful in any other moment in their lives, in their perfectly imperfect skin.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I love being a business woman, but like most artists who open their own business, it is being a creator and performer that is my life force. My entire being feels elevated on another level when I am creating; it is one of the greatest pleasures in my life. One of the most valuable discoveries I have made in my artistic and professional life is understanding that being a creator means I’m not limited to a particular genre of artistry, unless I choose to be. Several of my friends nicknamed me the Master of Inspired Living many years ago, because I completely changed my artistic platform and career from dance to photography, and not in a passive or casual way. I essentially created a higher education program for myself in the field of photography, and invested significant time and resources into mastering a completely different art form. I am now a master of my craft and beginning the process of starting an education platform to share my knowledge with other photographers.
In photography, like dance, one of my greatest accomplishments has been bringing my unique brand of flare, artistry, and conceptualization to both artistic disciplines, but especially in the world of portrait photography. My brand focuses on women, mostly through Boudoir, Glam, and Fitness, and is heavily influenced by my time in the world of fashion, dance, elements of Fantasy, and my love affair with some of the greatest artists, like Sandro Botticelli. Every woman that I photograph receives an experience and images unlike any other. I invest time learning about each client and how she dreams of feeling and being seen, and then I start conceptualizing and creating specifically to fulfill her dreams. I create wardrobe, sets, styling, lighting, and posing that brings that creative vision to life. My clients are pampered and showered with genuine affirmations and appreciations while they’re being pampered and treated like a movie star. The actual photoshoot involves multiple sets/looks/VIP custom made & luxury wardrobe, and is a full fashion magazine style and quality photoshoot. Many of my clients, who are not models, have actually had their portrait sessions and what I created for them, featured in International Fashion magazines. Many of my other clients don’t want to share their images anywhere because they did it to feel exceptional and just for themselves. Whether my clients want to keep their images private or share them with the world, they know they are getting 100% of my best for them, and they know they can trust me to create and protect the vision we create together.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love living in Denver, it’s a vibrant artist community, a foodie’s haven, and we have the most incredible spots to enjoy life. When my friends and clients come here I send them to my favorite locations. If you’re looking for entertainment, there is no shortage. DCPA is always bringing in great shows, like Moulin Rouge which just finished a run, and of course I love The Clocktower Cabaret which features great performers and productions, especially those put on by my friend & client, Taka. We have phenomenal artist installations and museums, like The Van Gogh and Banksy Exhibits, and well as the great Denver Museum or Art. The Art District on Santa Fe features great galleries and options for exploring local artists work. We have some of the best concerts & venues as well, one of my favorite shows was seeing Prince, front row at the Ogden Theatre on Colfax, in one of his final shows.
If you’re checking out a show on Colfax and have a sweet tooth, you can stop at the famous VooDoo Doughnuts, or get some handcrafted locally owned & produced ice cream at Smith + Canon’s Ice Cream Co. Stop in next door to grab some of the best cookies anywhere at The Urban Cookie. If you’re looking for an unbeatable breakfast spot, check out Waffle Brother’s on Lafayette Street, or Bacon Social House, or if you don’t mind chatting while you wait in a very long line, head to Snooze on Colorado Blvd or in Union Station-one of my absolute favorite spots to hang out and while you’re there, grab some infused ice cream at the Milkbox Ice Creamery. Walk a couple of blocks and check out the incomparable Tattered Covered book book store or head to McGregor Square and bring your blanket to check out a movie or pregame before the Rockies on the big screens and grab a bite. Another great spot for foodies is in The Highland area, there are fabulous spots to enjoy. For dinner, head to Larimer Street and enjoy any number of fantastic restaurants and nightlife, like enjoying a flight of Champagne at Corridor 44. Check out STK Steakhouse for a cool vibe while you eat a Seafood Tower or Steak. If you want less meat and more delicious veggies you have to try Watercourse.
If you’re into sports, which I am, we have incredible teams and events, there’s always something going on.
There are so many amazing outdoor spots, if you’re coming to Colorado you have to take advantage of the epic scenery, like a workout at Red Rocks, a picnic and hike at Lair o’ the Bear Park, check out Look Out Mountain for some picturesque moments. Rent a car and make the trek out to Keenesburg too the The Wild Animal Sanctuary, to see and support some of the most amazing animals who have been rescued and are now thriving in a community of love and respect. When you’re ready to relax, you have to try some of Colorado’s Hot Springs and you can’t leave without an indulgent Massage & Banya treatment at IZBA Spa.
I could give you 1000 more recommendations, but this should get you started.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My story would be incomplete without acknowledging two very important people in my personal and professional lives.
First, my husband and best friend, Rico Munn, who has supported me at every stage of my personal and professional life, and especially where those collide. Over the years, we’ve had numerous challenges trying to make sure we could each diligently and enthusiastically pursue our professional goals, all while being loving and consistent parents to our two amazing children, and making time to prioritize our love. It’s not a unique challenge, many people face these same obstacles, but ours was complicated by the numerous and fabulous travels that my journey has taken me on. He always seems to make whatever challenges we face feel easier, because we take them on together.
Second, my dear friend, mentor, and exceptional photographer, Cherie Steinberg, has had a tremendous impact on my life and career. Her love, generosity of knowledge, and belief in me has been instrumental in helping me achieve my goals.