Being a starving artist is vastly overrated, Kathryn Watts-Martinez ’78 tells her photography students at Austin Community College. She knows only too well that artists can really be up against it trying to make a living while pursuing their passion. So Kathryn juggles several kinds of photography jobs. She has her own fine arts photography business and sells her work to galleries; teaches professional photography in Austin, Texas, where she has worked the last 20 years as Adjunct Professor and Department Manager; and is a freelance photographer and location manager for a fashion photographer traveling to such places as Hawaii, Belize, Barbados, and the Grenadine Islands.
As a high school student at Glen Oak School, Kathryn joined her family traveling from Lake Erie to Nova Scotia, and mainly along the East Coast transporting the sailboat to the Woods Hole Oceanography Institute in Massachusetts where it is housed in winter. "I always had my camera with me," she said. "I saw wonderful places from that boat and tried to photograph them all."
After studying at the Ohio Institute of Photography, Kathryn worked at Crowther-Wolfe Studio in the Cleveland Flats owned by her cousin Herbert Crowther ’74, with steel mills and industrial plants clients, and was a society photographer for Northern Ohio Live.
Her real passion, though, is the timeless photographs of botanical still life subjects and old Texas architecture that she has fashioned into her own style through a process which gives the work a romantic look. She uses an old photo process from the 1800s shooting large format 8 x 10 negatives. Then she contact prints the negatives onto paper coated with an emulsion. Exposing them to sunlight creates the image on paper that she hand colors with water color paints and pencils. Several of her photos hang in the Texas State Capitol and in Austin's City Hall.
Kathryn also gets great satisfaction from teaching. "I had dyslexia growing up and would often get frustrated with my classes," she recalled. "Having been down that road makes me a better teacher because I can work with those students by encouraging them and helping them overcome their frustrations and their feelings of needing to quit."
Her work in fashion photography as a location manager, model wrangler, and freelancer offers an opportunity to shoot the exotic landscapes she loves with her digital camera. One of her photos of waterfalls in Hawaii will be printed in the Professional Photographers of America Showcase Book this year and another will be on display at the National Imaging USA Convention. Several of her photos have been published in digital photography textbooks.
Learn your craft and do it well, but don't ignore the practical end of the business, she tells her students. "It is wonderful to be creative, but you also need a business sense to keep the studio lights on. www.solarimages.com.