Katherine Elizabeth Photography Interview

Katherine Elizabeth is a Manchester-based pole and aerial photographer. She owns Katherine Elizabeth Photography (@kephoto on Instagram) and the newly opened @thekepstudio, where I was lucky enough to be photographed and to attend an opening party in January. Here, she tells me all about her style, her popular shoot ideas and her values.

The KEP Studio in Manchester

Katherine Elizabeth Photography’s smoke shoot

Kat is known for her dramatic smoke shoots, of which she has done over 300. Her work focuses on body positivity and inclusivity, which is reflected in her wide range of models and in her refusal to excessively retouch her shots.

Katherine Elizabeth came up with the smoke shoot idea during a photoshoot with Bendy Kate. She says: “Bendy found an image in my portfolio of a model smoking a cigarette, she asked further about it and I decided to give a pole smoke photoshoot a go and never looked back.” Since then, Katherine Elizabeth Photography have come up with over 75 unique combinations of smoke colours for shoots.

Despite the striking smoke background however, don’t expect your shots with Katherine Elizabeth Photography to look artificial: “We feel so passionate about the body positivity movement, so we have a policy of no editing without request,” Kat says. “We edit the background to get the smoke to look fabulous, however, when it comes to our beautiful clients we don’t touch anything that is permanent unless requested to. We want people to feel like the incredible humans they are with everything that makes us unique.” 

As a huge fan of her smoke shoots, I had to try one for myself when I went to Manchester for the opening of her studio, and well… I think these shots, where I’m wearing Hoodlum Fang’s lightning set, speak for themselves!

The milk bath shoot

The smoke shoots aren’t Katherine Elizabeth Photography’s only iconic offering. Her milk bath shoots are a gorgeous throwback to Cleopatra and Poppaea, who were known to bathe in milk – but they’re also an idea originating straight back form Kat’s student days. Take a peek at what the bath shoots look like below – I spy the gorgeous model, KEP ambassador and the woman behind one of my fave interviews on the blog, Ela Aur, too!

The idea for this shoot came up when Katherine Elizabeth and her friends decided to do a sexy calendar photoshoot for themselves and their partners. The theme for the month of May was a milk bath, something Kat had never experimented with because it seemed like “a huge fad a few years before.” Upon trying it, Kat fell in love with the idea: “I wanted everyone to feel as beautiful as we did,” she says, so she started testing it through many shoots, some of which even ended up being published in a magazine. She adds: “Funnily enough, our landlord [for the brand-new KEP Studio] is the exact same landlord of my student flat! He loves the milk baths and can’t believe we took them many moons ago in the old place.”

The KEP Studio in Manchester

Katherine Elizabeth Photography travels to different studios to shoot pole dancers in their happy place, but Kat and her business partner Lacey (@laceyfitspo) have recently opened the KEP Studio in Manchester, where I attended a fab launch party featuring performances, inflatable rainbows and lots of fun.

The KEP studio has three main spaces: one for pole and aerial shoots, one for the milk baths and a boudoir area. Both the main studio and boudoir area are also available for rent for other photographers, or whoever can make use of it.

The main room has a rigging system that includes high-standard trussing, so that models can use an X-Pole or an aerial hoop. Designed with accessibility in mind, the main room has wheelchair access. 

Funny story: when Kat offered me a complimentary shoot when I was in Manchester for the opening, we did use that room… but we shot in a completely different direction. Since the trussing fitting finished just 30 minutes before the actual launch, she set up another pole just for me, and for that I’ll be eternally grateful.

The KEP studio also has its own in-house boudoir photographer, @isobelgcreative, who has partnered up with Kat to use the top floor area. Isobel also edits Katherine Elizabeth’s smoke images.

Aside from the smoke shoots, the milk baths and the boudoir shoots, Katherine Elizabeth Photography have *just* launched a new take on their cloud shoot – the KEP starry night shoot. So set your alarms and keep an eye on KEP’s website on February 24 to book.

Katherine Elizabeth Photography’s tips for pole dance photoshoots

I couldn’t leave you without Katherine Elizabeth’s tips to nail your pole photoshoot:

  1. Plan your moves: “Make sure you have a list and even better, pictures! This way you can show the photographer what you’re going to do, and a good list of moves won’t leave you feeling like you didn’t do enough.”
  2. Start with an easy move: “This will help settle any nerves. Then you can move onto harder moves.”
  3. Give a move three attempts: “If it’s not working, move on – you can always go back to it later. Sometimes moves just don’t work on the day, and that’s fine.”
  4. Breathe! “Our first-time shooters are always so nervous, which is absolutely normal. Take it slow, and pick some moves you’re really solid in to secure those shots.”
  5. Don’t worry about doing too much: “Even just standing next to the pole can look absolutely stunning!”

If you’re shooting with Kat, there are two moves she loves to photograph: “Superman is my absolute favourite to photograph! It’s a very flat shape, so you get to see it all, with no hiding limbs. I do also love a lunge, it’s always such a pretty shape and super easy!”

The woman herself, Katherine Elizabeth

Last but not least, Kat recommends booking an experienced photographer with a large pole/aerial portfolio to make the most out of your shoot. “They’ll know the best angles for your moves,” Kat says, “And they’ll be able to get the lighting right mostly the first time, meaning you won’t have to repeat your moves, which gets tiring.”

Seems like a no-brainer, but I speak from experience when I say that shooting with amazing photographers who have no pole experience means having to do moves multiple times if you come off the pole only to find out your lines weren’t clean, or that you were looking the wrong way. And your body will get tiiiiiired!

Where to find Katherine Elizabeth Photography:

I’ll be sharing more pictures from my smoke shoot on my social media and on the blog in the coming weeks, so keep an eye out! But meanwhile:

  • Follow @kephoto and @thekepstudio
  • Find out more about the studio and the team here
  • Find Katherine Elizabeth’s prices here
  • For more tips on how to nail your pole photoshoot, check out KEP’s blog here.

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