Welcome to the 1st edition of La Pause, a series of intimate conversations where we take the time to learn more about people and projects we admire.
Today we’re speaking to Katrina Williams, a family photographer and videographer with an incredible story. She began her photography journey when her one-year-old son was hospitalized for a bone marrow transplant. Through this daunting experience, photography shifted her focus to the beauty of the world and the urgency of capturing life’s fleeting moments.
Hi Katrina, we’re so grateful to share our first La Pause with you! Can you tell us about when and how you started photography?
I started taking photos when my son was really sick. He had a bone marrow transplant and was in the hospital for almost a year. Taking photos was my way of holding on to all the little details, all the things I didn’t want to forget. Taking photos was my way of coping and healing.
Photography helped me so much during this time, I thought other families might benefit as well. So I started my photography business and named it Fifty Two Hundred Photography, which is the transplant unit that we were living in when I started doing this professionally. My hope is that the name serves as a reminder to me, and to the families I work with, that life is so precious and can change in an instant.
Now my son is coming up on his three-year post-transplant milestone, and he’s a thriving four-year-old. It was his journey that really transformed my path. I was working as a PA in the medical field, and when we went through that with my son, I decided to change careers and follow my passion: photography.
What did photography mean for you at that time?
I think having something to create was really healing for me. It was hard being in a helpless position like that. I couldn’t heal my son, but I could make art that helped us all see the beauty in a really difficult situation.
How did you train your eye and develop your own style?
It’s a combination of training myself to slow down and being intentional in order to notice things. Part of that is learning from trained photographers who taught me how to see light and dark, and contrast and composition. I think that’s the biggest thing that anyone could get from taking a course that teaches you how to see. Even if you’re not taking photos, it can transform your world because you just start noticing.
“Taking photos was my way of coping and healing.”
What makes you grab your camera to photograph your son?
Because we were told several times that our son was not going to survive – and living with that fear for so long – I really learned to treasure the small and simple moments. I remember when he was really sick and thinking about just wanting to be home, picking up his toys, tripping over his games. It’s now in those moments that I reach for my camera. So anytime he’s just having a moment and enjoying himself, it brings me so much joy. And I love preserving those moments. I also do a lot of video now, so I‘m always reaching for my camera to record his voice and the sounds of our life.
What are some tips that you’d like to share on how to capture genuine moments?
My first tip is you have to be in the moment yourself, you have to be fully present. I think that’s something I struggle with personally as a busy mom running my own business, but I try to be really intentional about slowing down. Being mindful and being present – that’s when you’ll start to notice the beauty in the small, simple things. You’re not thinking about the future. You’re not worried about the past. You’re just fully aware, awake, and alive.
“Being mindful and being present – that’s when you’ll start to notice the beauty in the small, simple things.”
What made you join Mootsh?
I joined because I really needed monthly reminders to print my photos! I found it overwhelming at the end of the year to try to pick my favorites and print everything out. I really love the invitation to choose photos each month and print them as I go. It’s just so much more doable when you’re getting these gentle invitations and reminders each month.
I also like to think of it as a gratitude practice. Each month I’m sitting down and looking through photos of my family and of my sweet son, and it helps me pause and really appreciate my life. Even if it only takes four or five minutes, it’s okay. It’s a practice. It’s not just something on a to-do list. It’s something that brings me joy and adds a lot of value to my life beyond just the tangible photo that I received. It’s the invitation and the practice that’s really, really meaningful.
“It’s a practice. It’s not just something on a to-do list. It’s something that brings me joy and adds a lot of value to my life beyond just the tangible photo that I received.”
What do you do with your Mootsh photos? How do you like to enjoy them?
I enjoy them all in different ways. I have photos hanging in the kitchen, some hanging in my son’s room. We see these memories displayed on our walls and it reminds us of how far we’ve come as a family. And really it’s more about the moment and emotion behind the photo, than the quality of the photo. One moment, in particular, I’m thinking of is Soren and his two sets of grandparents in the hospital. Here is Soren, surrounded by four grown adults, all on this one hospital bed, making jokes and having a joyous time. And I just snapped it with my iPhone. And thankfully we had Mootsh to print it for us and now it’s hanging in our kitchen. It’s such a simple photo, but extraordinarily meaningful. It’s pretty remarkable to see how much love comes through in photographs.
I can’t overstate the importance of printing these photos and how much it’s added to the telling of our family story, and to creating this space of safety and love for our son to be reminded of some of these beautiful moments.
“It’s pretty remarkable to see how much love comes through in photographs.”
What are the things that you appreciate the most in life?
The little things are the big things. The little things are everything. My son is alive and just hearing his voice down the hall is so heartwarming. Yeah, just these little moments with my family, doing nothing, are so special to me. I feel like that’s part of my life philosophy too, just trying to slow down our culture. It’s so fast-paced. It’s hard to be present if you’re moving so quickly. To really slow down and notice my people and notice the small things are what bring me the most joy. I think all photography is about that.
What is it that you love about taking photos of other families?
I love creating an experience for families to really connect with each other and just slow down and appreciate their life. I think that’s what is even more important to me than the actual photos. I’m also taking a lot of video, and I love being able to deliver both to families.
We’re big fans of your most recent video offer: the Time Capsule Membership. Could you explain the concept in a few words?
With the Time Capsule Membership, I become a family’s personal historian by helping them organize their personal photos and videos throughout the year. They also receive monthly prompts and education on how to take better photos + videos of their children.
Then at the end of the year, I create a Time Capsule Film for them which includes all their personal videos from the year plus footage from our time together, all beautifully woven together into their family story.
The thing I love most about this work is getting to know families deeply and well so I can authentically help them tell their story and this membership allows me to really get to know them throughout the year.
Could you share your favorite online resources for photographers and videographers?
All Resources Katrina / Fifty Two Hundred Photo
Gratiane & Noemie