An Interview with Heather Larkin

By Scott Wyden Kivowitz

Last updated on 04/07/2024

At ImagingUSA 2023 in Nashville, TN, we spoke with photographer, Heather Larkin and asked her various questions. Heather has been running her photography business for over 18 years at the time of publishing this, and she has photographed over 1,536 people during that time! As a former teacher in early childhood, her move into photographing children with special needs was an obvious change for her to make.

Heather’s work can be seen on her photography site, Fairyography.

Below, you can find the video of the interview at the Imagen booth and the transcription of that talk.

What is one thing you do to make meaningful, lasting connections with clients?

I love learning about their children, so I ask them what their children enjoy, what their favorite part about their child is, and talk mostly about their kids and never about me.

If you had to explain your photo editing style in 3 words, what would it be?

My photo editing style in three words would definitely be:

  • magical
  • vibrant
  • authentic

What has been your proudest or most memorable moment as a photographer so far?

My most memorable client is actually the first special needs girl I photographed. Her name was Sabina. For a long time, I was just doing fairy princess pictures, and I heard about her through the community. She had a brainstem tumor, and I was like, well I’m going to photograph this child and give her a beautiful section so that she can feel pretty where she’s lost her hair and gone through chemo.

What happened is that the brainstem tumor was untreatable. It was inoperable, and she did not make it to treatment. I photographed her in November, and by February she was gone, and that has stuck with me. Her parents said, “You will never know what these photos mean to us.” That was 14 years ago, and I have never forgotten that kid or her parents or that session.

What are Fairy photos?

I love magical photos and I get enough of the real world. I want to create something magical and beautiful that is definitely different and fantasy and gives me something that doesn’t exist here, and I want to create my own version of photography art. So what I do is dress up little kids in fairy costumes.

I provide the wings, I provide the coat, the dresses. We go to the hair salon and get their hair done. It’s a whole big experience, and they love it.

How did you first get interested in photography?

I was actually a preschool teacher, and I photographed my kids in my classroom so that I could send the pictures home via email to their parents because their parents weren’t there.

I had the kids more than their parents did. I wanted them to feel included in our day and be able to talk about that with our children. So I started taking pictures of the kids in my class and sending them.

What is your biggest tip for post-production?

My biggest tip for post-production is “use Imagen” because it just saves my life. I had family sessions that I was doing and they were family minis. Usually, it takes me about two weeks to roll them and get them all produced and edited and, you know, those two weeks in November and December are critical.

So with Imagen, everything was done in two days, and I had my client orders coming in, and I was through before Christmas, and it was fantastic.

What is one misconception about photographers that you’d like to debunk?

The misconception is that you just click your box and it’s all done for you. You have to put some thought and feeling, and some storytelling, and that includes your editing, like how you want to edit is included in what you want to present. And so it’s not just a clicky box and you’re done. You can’t just deliver whatever comes out of the camera. You have to put some thought into it. And so photography is definitely an art form, and it’s not just bang, and you’re done.

Check out our Photography Podcast – Workflows for more stories and tips on the art and business sides of photography from artists from all over the world.

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