'Artists can heal. Themselves, people, the world…'
Kimberlee Peterson is a commercial photographer based in LA. Her practice extends to exploring personal fine art photography projects. Her brokeN Series is pure heart. These are emotive photographic portraits that convey a story. Conceived in 2020 in a climate of pain, suffering and frustration, the brokeN series represents the state of the world as Kimberlee witnessed it. The images are honest and unrestrained, saturated with gripping and raw human expression.
Do you prefer to work in silence or does certain music inspire you?
Music is key to my shoots. It has always been therapy to my soul. 90’s hip hop, old school rock, jazz, blues, alternative…I’m all over the place! About 15 mins before my shoot starts I put it on and let things settle within me. It’s kind of like a form of meditation. A way to ground myself before I get to work. My clients are always given the option to put on what they want. I think music can help calm people’s nerves. Well music and my adorable dog Charlie Rose. She’s the welcome wagon.
Describe a moment you had an epiphany concerning your creative life.
Before Covid began, taking headshots was my main focus. It’s what my business had been built on. As the pandemic began and life in my industry became unclear, I was in need of another creative outlet. I’ve been an actor for 26 years, so I popped in front of the camera to play. One of the looks I wanted to capture was something out of a horror movie. (Thank you Kacie, my manager, for the inspiration with that one!) As I was going through my pics and playing in photoshop, divine intervention seemed to step in and call out to me. I remember sitting up and saying out loud “I have something here!” From there my journey with the “brokeN” series began.
I did a test run with a few female artists. I asked that they prepare before they arrive and really dig into the heart of what they were experiencing. Things had been shut down for almost two months by this point. Life was uncertain for us all. Whether it was Covid related or pain from their past, each one had something completely different that they were dealing with and needed to release. I was lucky enough to be on the other end of a therapeutic lens and capture it. The universe again validated for me, that I HAD something special with this series. I spent the next six months shooting “brokeN.”
Do you have a personal mantra or quote which serves to motivate you?
My mom has always said to me “you alone are enough.” That plays in my head often.
Describe an obstacle you have faced and how did you overcome it.
Almost 11 years ago I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called Sarcoidosis. It came out of nowhere and boy did it kick my ass! Lymph nodes started popping up behind my ears, on the back of my skull (never knew that was a thing) and on my lungs. I had already been a few years into a prescription drug addiction, and that just exploded when I got sick. Looking back I can see why my body turned on itself and broke down. I had been poisoning it for years with the pills, and it had finally had enough. I believe the Sarcoidosis actually saved my life. There was no end in sight with my addiction. Every year it got worse and further down the rabbit hole I fell. The week before my 33rd birthday I decided I couldn’t go into another year living that way. I dumped all my prescriptions in the toilet and flushed that life away. This coming May 1st, I will have been clean for 8 years. Since the night I flushed my pills and every day since, I have made it my mission to heal myself in mind, body and spirit. It’s been a lot of work, and I’m nowhere near finished, but I’m enjoying seeing what I’m capable of. Photography, above anything, has been the best medicine.
Nature versus nurture- do you believe you have inherited abilities from creative parents, do you have creative siblings? Can you identify environmental factors or influences which led to your choices or directions?
My mom and brother are VERY creative! They are both writers. The three of us have always been dreamers, but I’ve always been in awe of the ways in which they are able to create. Screenplays, children’s books, a novel or just a message in a damn birthday card… their words are always so thoughtfully crafted together. When it comes to writing, I seem to hit a mental roadblock. Truth be told, it has always created some anxiety for me. (which is why it’s taken me two weeks to fill out these questions!)
My mom was also an actor when I was younger. She has always understood my desire to put myself out there and make something of myself. My creativity has ALWAYS been nurtured by her. My brother and my momma have supported me on every leg of my journey in LA. Whether I’m acting or I have a camera in my hand, I know I have those two backing me up and cheering for my every win.
Detail a moment which was the highlight for you, thus far.
My “brokeN” series was just featured in two European online art magazines, Tagree (German) and OpenEye (French). It really blows my mind when I think about that.
I’m still in the infantile stage of my photography career. This April will be two years since I started my business, Lotta Photo. To have those opportunities already, just inspires me to keep pushing myself and learn as much as I can. The possibilities of what I can accomplish are endless. There are so many talented people out there and the universe keeps crossing my path with some of the best. I’m like a sponge taking in anything they throw my way. Artists helping artists… its pretty bad ass in my book. That is something I plan to continue to spread myself.
Another highlight, acting related… I filmed a movie in Egypt back in the day and got to film on top of the Giza Pyramids. Pretty fucking cool if you ask me. Minus that whole height thing…that was scary!