We had the good fortune of connecting with Kimberly Benfield and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kimberly, how do you think about risk?
It is always a risk to follow your dreams as it is impossible to know where that path will take us. In the same way, I take a risk every time I go on a photoshoot. I bring my equipment and skills, but I don’t bring a set plan. My process is to listen and collaborate with whoever or whatever my subject is. I’m looking for a certain essence, and inner beauty that exists in every person and in every thing. But I have no idea how this is going to show up. Maybe its a serene stillness, or maybe its outrageous laughter. Whatever it is, I have to be ready, and flexible or I’ll miss it. I’ve had my business for over 7 years now, but I still feel into this risk every time I pick up a camera. I know my clients are feeling it to, especially in the beginning of a shoot. You probably relate. How comfortable are you getting your photo taken? Slowly, as the photoshoot progresses, My client and I start feeling into our collaboration, both of us contributing to the artistic expression. And we begin to see the fruits of our efforts and our nervous systems calm down a little, resting a bit in knowing that it was safe to be so vulnerable. This work is life affirming for me and I’m so grateful for having the opportunity to continue to take these risks.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m going to tell you a little about my approach to photographing people that may be a little different than what you would expect. Let’s pretend that you would like to hire me for promotional photos of yourself. You don’t come to me thinking you have this in the bag. That you know exactly what you want and are confident that you are going to look amazing in all of the images. These are some of the thoughts and emotions that you might be experiencing: You come to me afraid that you aren’t photogenic, maybe you aren’t beautiful enough, that all anyone will be able to see are your imperfections. I understand this. And I also am feeling the fear. I don’t know what is going to happen during the shoot. And I don’t know how much you are willing to share with me. I don’t come into a shoot with a set method, with poses that you need to do a certain way. I suppose this would be so much easier for me, but that is not my method at all. If I am not incredibly flexible, I will not capture you in your true beauty. I cannot do my art without you. You are the most important part of my process. So it is imperative to me to listen to you and understand as much as I can about you, how are you feeling, what is important to you, what you are afraid of, what you love and cherish about yourself. I don’t expect you to even want to share everything about yourself. I have to work with what you are willing to share. The work I do is a collaboration between you and me. I believe you are a manifestation of perfection and beauty. During our time together, I will be searching for that beauty, creating as much comfort as I can so you can let your guard down to reveal it, even if it is just for fleeting moments. Because I’ll be ready. That’s all I need to capture great images -Just a split second second, actually often 100th of a second or faster. This will look different for everyone. Maybe the best thing is for me to take a step back and let you do your thing. Maybe this is taking a more active role in guiding you so you can feel supported. I will work with however you show up. I am so deeply honored that you are willing to show up for me at all. I really understand that this is not an easy thing to do. We both will walk into this uncertainty together. Somehow we will find a place to start and we begin the game of “yes and” that is commonly used in improv theatre. For that is what we are doing together, we are improvising, working and flowing together. I’m listening for your feedback, your creative ideas, your inspirations, and the beautiful ways you express yourself, you are letting me help guide you, letting yourself be vulnerable, watching me as I react to you all while revealing yourself a little at a time. I’ll be looking for what you would like to share with me, for what you are willing to share with me. Remember, I’m going to meet you where you are at. What feels safe to you? Do you want to share with me how much you love your family or your significant other? And how does your love show up? is it fun and playful, or deeply sentimental. Maybe this changes during the shoot from one moment to the next. How does your love for yourself show up? My greatest hope is that when you see these images you will be able to see in even just a small part the beauty i saw in you and that I attempted to capture. And my greatest fear is that you will not. I can’t guarantee what your experience will be because I’m making this up as I go along, I’m starting from scratch every time I head out on a shoot. And my biggest unknown is you. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. You are the reason why I am here. The reason I love what I do. I love diving into the unknown with you, Feeling the fear, and loving it at the same time. Searching for and discovering all the beautiful ways you show up, flowing with you and capturing those fleeting moments of divine perfection.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love outdoor shoots around Denver. Some of my favorite spots include downtown with Union Station and the Millennial Bridge being particularly fun as well as the RiNo district for some great colorful spots. The best part of shooting urban is that it looks amazing all year round! And if you do want some great natural environment you can find that too along the Platte River.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I belong to a business networking group called BNI. My chapter, Action Partners, took a risk in letting me join their group over 4 years ago. I am so grateful for all of the support that I have received in work, friendships, and mentoring from this group. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.