Friday, July 1, 2011

meet Kim Casey and Janelle Ringgenberg

Your Name: 

RainKite Photography
Janelle Ringgenberg and Kim Casey

Kansas City, Missouri

How would you describe your style of photography?
RainKite is unique because we are a "duo." We shoot together about 90% of the time, using two cameras during the session to capture different perspectives. Our artistic philosophy is a contemporary approach to classic family photography. It's a fusion of traditional portraiture with a splash of lifestyle imagery. We've found that over the years, clients say that they love spontaneous, unposed images...however 99% of the time, they buy the traditional posed images for the large wall pieces. The lifestyle images tell the story of the family (this is perfect for albums & slideshows), but the posed images are usually what the client ultimately wants for their main purchase. That's why we feel it's important to offer both styles within a session. 

What first drew you in to photography?
Kim: I watched a segment on the Today show when I was 13 about a photography book called "A Day in the Life of America." In this book, 200 photojournalist were given one roll of film and 24 hours (May 2, 1986) to capture their version of America. I was mostly intrigued because May 2nd is my I asked for the book for Christmas. But the raw beauty of the images blew me away. It changed my life and still sits on my desk.
Janelle:  A very close friend passed away a few years ago.  After her death, there was almost a frantic search for pictures of her and each one found is a treasure to her family and friends.  Photographs become such a link to those we love and the time we were blessed to be with them.  The power they have to help us remember, smile and be thankful is what drew me to photography.

Do you work out of your home or a studio?
We primarily work on location for most sessions. The only exception: newborns are photographed in Janelle's home studio. After years of lugging "baby gear" across town...we decided to contain our newborn sessions to one location to help us control light, temperature, etc. It has made all the difference in the world.

Tell us about your business before the Savvy workshop?
At the time of the workshop, we had been in business for three years, however, we were just at a point where we significantly changed our pricing structure. It was a leap of faith to increase our pricing, because we worried that we would lose our client base. It was a pleasant surprise to find out that rather than losing clients, we weeded out the folks who were just "looking for a deal," rather than true clients who liked us for our vision and artistic approach. It was the best decision we've ever made.

How has it changed since returning?
The most important element we learned was to trust ourselves. Being surrounded at the Workshop by strong, creative women taught us that we are strong and creative, too. So often, as photographers, we second guess our choices, approach, style, processing techniques, pricing, etc. This workshop taught us that it's ok to be us. Forget about the external hype. Just focus on yourself and your clients.

What do you think is the most important thing you learned from the Savvy workshop?
Don't worry about the competition. Be true to yourself.

What was your favorite part?
Our goal in attending the Workshop was to be inspired and gather new ideas. Sharing a room together, we stayed up late each evening discussing our business. It was nice to have uninterrupted work time without family/kids/life.

Fun facts we want to know about you:
Our company was named by Kim's oldest son. When he was a toddler he called umbrellas "rainkites." It seemed the perfect word to express our whimsical approach to photography that focuses on the intrinsic beauty of families.

Favorite Savvy indulgence~
Kim: Good coffee and trashy magazines
Janelle: Laying by the pool reading Kim's trashy magazines

Favorite Place to Shop~
Kim: Good JuJu (an antique shop in Kansas City), Target, Williams Sonoma
Janelle:  I dream of having hours to spend in TJMaxx or Marshals.

Favorite vacation spot~
Kim: New York City or Martha's Vineyard or Disney World 
Janelle: Any beach, any where

Favorite blogs to visit~
Janelle:  Are you kidding?  I barely find time to answer my emails. Although I am sure to check out, because Kim's our "blog author," and it's new to me every time!  

Favorite subject to photograph~
Kim: I love working with grade school children. There is a certain magic about kids from age 6-9...mostly, because they are genuine in their expressions and commentary.  They are old enough to not have separation-anxiety from mom, but young enough to be silly without feeling self-conscious. 
Janelle:  I love the newborns!   Funny enough that I couldn't get any of my own kids calm and relaxed, (I swear all 3 cried 23 out of 24 hours a day) but I can get other people's babies to sleep just fine.  My husband likes to remind me about the "other people's babies" part whenever I get an itch for baby #4... 

Favorite products you sell to your clients~
Kim: It took me a long time to get to this point (I was very anti-digital images for the first two years of our business), but I love when clients buy digital images! We work hard to shoot and edit a session, so  I'm thrilled when a client chooses to purchase the files for scrapbooking, safe-keeping, etc. We are story tellers...and I want them to have the entire story. Sometimes, I feel that when they just buy one image, clients are missing the "picture," so to speak. Our digital files are an investment, so I consider it a great compliment when they are purchased. (There is a minimum print purchase for "digital negatives," because we want them to leave with a tangible piece of artwork...not just a plastic CD.)
Janelle:  I love selling our books and takes a lot more work on my end, but I feel it's the only way to really tell the whole story.  When I design them, I love to surprise clients with images they never saw...the crazy face brother made to sister, the disgusted look on her face, him laughing at accomplishing his goal...then the nice posed image we were waiting for...all in a spread.  They love it!

Favorite thing about being a photographer~
Kim: Meeting people! I love working with people. I love talking to people. And I love cultivating relationships. It's important to me that folks know that I'm not just taking their picture...but rather, I'm personally invested in their family, their kids and their story.
Janelle:  Just being able to capture the passing of time. It moves so quickly, and we aren't guaranteed tomorrow.  I love the idea of people looking back over the images when the kids are grown and being transported back to that time.

Describe your perfect day~
Kim: Anything that involves the beach, sunshine, family and laughter. (And maybe wine!)
JanelleJust having some good ol' family "down time" together tops my list these days!  



  1. Yeah for Kim and Janelle. Loved talking to you at the Savvy workshop and your photography is beautiful - just like both of you!

  2. what a great article you two! you do amazing work!

  3. This has been my favorite interview so far in this series. Loved their answers, not to mention the name of their business and how they came up with it. :)