karin locke

event photography, photography, portrait photography

Awkward Portraits

What started out as a bit of a joke has become a serious interest of mine. 

Three years ago back in Canada I threw an ugly sweater party at my house and decided it would be awesome to set up a back drop and take some photos of my friends in their hideous garb. The party was fun, and the photos were hilarious and got a great response.

Two years later I threw another party, this time with the sole intent of taking bad portraits. That night, I laughed so hard that my entire midsection hurt for 2 days. (P.S. My friends are awesome.)


I didn't realise that the execution of intentionally bad portraiture was actually marketable until I was approached by the producer of Melbourne's Darebin Music Feast, Ciel Fuller, in August 2013. In keeping with the overall theme and aesthetic of the festival, she wanted a photo booth set up at the festival, and a photographer that could help festival-goers "channel Wes Anderson." I was a perfect candidate for the job. The resulting photographs from the event garnered tons of attention on Facebook, and the response was overwhelmingly positive.


In light of the success of this little project of mine I had to ask myself: Why does my generation, a generation that is generally very picky about photos of themselves (to the point of "untagging" pictures on Facebook, for example) enjoy having BAD portraits taken so much? I've worked as a portrait photographer for over 5 years and the most common thing I hear is "I HATE having my picture taken, but I need it for this or that." In a world of social media "image crafting," Facebook, Instagram, online dating and smart phone selfies, where people share selectively and project an inflated version of their existence, why does our generation revel in the exact opposite? When you take the ego out of a portrait, what is left? 

About a month after the Darebin Music Feast I was contacted by Frankie Magazine for an interview and photo spread in their January/February issue. Turns out, it's not just me who's fascinated by this phenomenon. They had seen the photos from the Feast and wanted to ask for my take on the willingness of people to "get their geek on" and have it immortalised in photographs. I was interviewed by a writer named Nicole Thomas, who enthusiastically agreed with a lot of my reasoning behind the portrait series.


We all have those photographs from our past that haunt us. I'm pretty sure everyone in the western world has gone through an awkward phase... or just happened to be alive in the 80s and 90s. And though they make us cringe in the present day, they also bring back fond memories of a simpler time.

Let's face it. Life is full of disappointment, uncertainty, and constant pressure to "be something," to be really good at something. Our generation has been raised to believe that we are special, that we can achieve anything, and when things don't work out exactly the way we imagined, we feel frustration and disappointment. Not only that, but our successes and failures are constantly on display on social media platforms. Our generation is social media obsessed, and it's created a monster. 

Studies have shown that because of the image curating that happens, a lot of us are dissatisfied with our lives. I believe that deep down most of us dislike the fact that we're so addicted to such a fake existence. 

When we stop trying so hard, when we stop taking ourselves so seriously, we allow ourselves to just BE, and that can be very liberating. The extreme of meticulous image crafting and projection of "cool" is momentarily swapped for the other extreme of goofy awkwardness. Somewhere in the middle, the extremes meet and present themselves as a genuine portrait that, I believe, captures a personality. And that is what this portrait series has allowed me to do. I feel like for one moment, when a person is goofing off in front of my camera, they're shedding the pressures and constraints of upholding an image and they're allowing themselves to be real. 

And let's be honest. Sometimes we just need a good laugh.

To see more Awkward Portraits, check out my portfolio or visit the Darebin Music Feast gallery on Facebook.



Well here it is. The end of the year. Seriously, where did 2011 go?

This has been such a great year for me. I've shot more weddings than I've ever done in a summer (and booked several more for next year), established myself on Twitter and LinkedIn, transitioned into a full-time role as the Black Dog Freehouse's poster & ad designer, picked up several other exciting new clients, and tried my hand at interior & real estate photography as a contractor with MyVisualListings.com. When I quit my job in September of 2010 and decided to embark on the scary path of entrepreneurship, I never knew my first full year would go this well. Thank you to my clients, friends, family and everyone who's supported this small business in 2011, and I look forward to your continued support in 2012!

Here's a quick recap of some of the things I got up to in these last weeks of 2011:

  • At the end of November I got to shoot the 4th annual Italia with Gusto wine & food festival at the Italian Cultural Centre. You can view the gallery here.
  • For the second year in a row I also got to shoot the Astral Media Christmas Party (and saw Paul Brown's rear end a few more times than I wanted to). It was at the River Cree Casino, which may be my new favourite event venue!
  • I've continued to design eye-catching materials for the Alberta Liberal Party, and there is a rumour that I may be picking up another candidate as a client early next year...
  • Just over a week ago I had the opportunity to photograph my first "giant cheque" presentation, a heart-warming display of goodwill by the ABCRC, Merlin Plastics and students of St. Brendan Elementary to the Rainbow Society of Alberta.
  • Using my new 50mm f/1.4 lens for the first time, I photographed local band Thea vs. Loki at the Black Dog Freehouse's annual Ho Ho Ho Down on December 14. It was a head-swirling combination of low light and colored light, but the new lens performed admirably. Here's a small sampling of the photos I shot that night:



photography, portrait photography


I'm a pretty lucky gal. I have this gorgeous neighbour who has a ton of modeling experience, lives right across the street and works from home just like me, so sometimes we get up to things. We discussed the idea of doing some "accessory" photographs, something creative to highlight a pair of earrings, or a ring. Just to experiment and have fun really.

I also wanted to play around with gels for some colored light, something I don't normally use in my photography. I really like trying new things, and it's great to have a willing subject!

Here's a few shots of the lovely Karolina. Click the photos to see the whole set on Flickr!


graphic design

Selkirk Wilderness Skiing

No time for blog posts lately! A summer filled with weddings, events, real estate listings, corporate work and a quick vacation to sunny southern Ontario kept me relatively busy, and I feel like I haven't had anything too creative to share with you lately.

Now that it's fall I'm back to being busy designing ads for Selkirk Wilderness Skiing for their upcoming season, a gig I landed through Play It By Ear Productions. I figured I would share a few of the ads I've been working on since it's been keeping me busy lately and it's a job I'm pretty stoked about. There is even a chance I might get out to Meadow Creek BC this winter to work and play - photograph and snowboard - fingers crossed!


Below is a full page ad I designed for Selkirk that was placed in both Kootenay Mountain Culture Magazine and Coast Mountain Culture Magazine.


Here is a small sampling of some web display ads I designed for a variety of ski and snowboard culture websites. (Actual sizes not exactly as shown)