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Behind the Lens: Laurie and Charles Kay

Charlotte in white bikini holding surf boardToday we are taking you behind the scenes of our latest Helen Jon photo shoot and introducing you to the brilliant photographers (and our friends) who made the magic happen… Laurie and Charles Kay.

So much planning goes into the creation of a Helen Jon photo shoot that is seldom discussed. Beyond the idyllic settings, the gorgeous models, and the fabulous swimwear, there are 5 a.m. call times to capture the perfect light as the morning sun rises and reflects on the open sea...and even learning how to discern a dolphin fin from a shark fin as a model wades into the surf for the next shot. It takes a team to keep up with the talent, and we marvel at the process every time.

Charles and Charlotte at sunriseWe feel fortunate to have had Laurie and Charles photograph our Cruise 2020 collection—the finished product exceeded expectations!

Laurie and Charles are expert photographers, not just by trade, but by virtue of who they are and how they experience the world around them. And by that, we mean with passion, optimism, curiosity, and heart. Tiger Woods, Warren Buffet, The New York Times, and Travel + Leisure all have sought them out for various projects. And we know why.

Laurie and Charles are more than just a photography duo; they are the married parents of two great kids, and they share an incredible zest for life… soul mates who know how to express the pulse, spirit, and rhythm of the world around them.

Read our interview below to discover what makes Laurie and Charles tick.


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What inspires you?

Laurie: Travel. Seeing new places, being inspired by different visuals in the world, experiencing life without being hemmed in by expectations. I’m an observer. I love experiencing different cultures, hearing foreign languages. I love the skies and the ocean and the way light falls on things and how it’s different all across this world. Truly, I’m inspired by the every day.

Charles: My perspective parallels travel, the cross-filtering of society, and the gentle movement of waves.

Charles and Laurie with Elizabeth

Where are the most amazing moments found?

Laurie: Everywhere. In writing, reading, traveling, learning, meeting new people. In the ocean, on the city streets, in the ordinary and the extraordinary. And Charles and I strive to creatively push ourselves to stay open, find more, discover more.

Charles: We seek things that are a little left-of-center, the path less taken.


When you find yourself in a new place, what do you do first to get a sense of it?

Laurie: I like to let it unfold. I love that everything is not planned out. I believe the depth of our work showcases this.

Charles: My favorite thing to do in a new place is watch the sunrise. I love exploring, trying new things, surfing any chance I can get, and, yes, food…as I like to say, “Never waste a meal!” We try to live big and bold, to experience where we are through the senses.


Do you think you are born an artist or become an artist? Or both?

Laurie: Art has always been in me and a part of me. And I made a distinct, deliberate decision when I was 18 to take the artist’s route and formally study to become an artist. I enrolled in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Columbia College in Chicago where I received my B.F.A. in photography.

Laurie shooting Charlotte

Charles: I was definitely born an artist. I do believe that people can find passion in art and then learn to un-tap their own creativity. My father was a photographer. I grew up around his studio and made my first print at age 5. When I started my education at Brooks Institute of Photography, my father passed down his first Hasselblad. I loved it, especially the word DEMO stamped on the bottom of it.

Charles and Charlotte on the beach

If you were able to live a parallel existence and have another “dream job,” what would it be?

Laurie: I can’t imagine life any other way.

Charles: Same job – just living closer to an ocean!


Favorite work of art?

Laurie: Untitled Anthropometry Series by Yves Klein.

Charles: The Swimming Pool, 1952 by Henri Matisse


Favorite moment from the Helen Jon photo shoot?

Laurie: My personal favorite moment of the shoot was hearing feedback from the models, Charlotte and Elizabeth. They expressed how comfortable, empowered, beautiful, and free they felt. Having their trust and because they felt so terrific, we feel, came straight through in the imagery we captured that day. It was a joy being able to work with the Helen Jon team on this shoot. They are such amazing women and truly brought out our creativity in the best way possible!

Charlotte and Elizabeth running on the beach

Mantra?

Laurie and Charles: The best is yet to come… the journey is just beginning. Seek things that are a little left-of-center, the path less taken. And, don’t take yourself too seriously.

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For instance, right now, you might be able to catch a glimpse of Laurie learning to skateboard, whizzing down Omaha’s city streets, with their dog on her leash, running and smiling beside her. Or you might find Charles, punk rock playing on his AirPods, dreaming out loud with their two kids about the next big surf. This, in its essence, is Laurie and Charles. Free spirited, full of life, riding the wave of life.

And through their lens, Laurie and Charles show us the depth and joy in art, beauty, and the human spirit.

More about Laurie and Charles’ work and collections can be found on their website, laurieandcharles.com, or follow them on Instagram.

 

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