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Conversations with the Inspiring McKenzie Leek

Today we’d like to introduce you to McKenzie Leek.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
When I graduated high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do when I went to college. I finally narrowed it down and attended Johnson and Wales University where I began taking classes for fashion merchandising and retail marketing. One day, they had a speaker come in and she went around the class asking everyone what they wanted to do in the field. When she got to me, I said I wanted to be a fashion photographer and she moved on. After the class, she approached me and said that I was at the wrong school if that’s what I really wanted to do. Within the next few weeks, I had dropped out of JWU enrolled in the New England School of Photography and started taking pictures of as many people as I could.

While in my first year at NESOP, I took a fine art color class, where for the final we had to pick a common theme and present 10 images to the class. This was a bit of a struggle for me because I never considered myself a fine art photographer and was just used to taking portraits. I ended up deciding to do the project on how the naked body resembles things in nature and it ended up being something I looked forward to working on and something that people were reaching out to me to be a part of.
That project ended up being what lead me into photographing boudoir. I just kept relating all of my projects to photographing the female form and my business grew from there.

Although I am mostly a boudoir and wedding photographer, I still enjoy shooting fashion and other portraiture and have had some amazing opportunities to work with so many incredible artists. I also owe a lot of my technical and artistic ability to the Santa Fe photographic workshops where I attended a work/study program in the summer of 2015.

All in all, I owe so many people a huge thank you for being the reason that I get to wake up and do what I love every day. I get to photograph so many beautiful and talented people and make them feel good about themselves and that is the best gift ever.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It definitely hasn’t been a smooth road but I believe that any artist experiences that. Up until a few months ago, I didn’t have a studio which made it really hard to have boudoir sessions because with that type of work you need consistency.

My advice to women starting their journey is to be persistent. If you want something, don’t give up trying because someday all that persistence will pay off and bring you something great. Don’t lose hope when someone tells you no, let that fuel you and make the next thing you’re working on even better and never be afraid to ask someone for help.

Community over the competition is also something I believe in 1,000%

What should we know about McKenzie Leek Photography? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I am a photographer and I specialize in boudoir. I also photograph weddings, fashion and other portraits, but my heart and brand are built on boudoir.

Boudoir can be a tough market to be in. It is definitely not for everyone and I completely understand that, but I absolutely and wholeheartedly love what I do. About 50% percent of women book with me because they aren’t comfortable in their own skin, have confidence issues or have overcome a traumatic experience and it is the most rewarding when they see their pictures and realize how truly beautiful they are.

Self-love is so important to me and I get to promote it every day in my work while meeting such inspiring women and hearing their stories. I take pride in the fact that I will not alter my images to “fix” insecurities that women have about themselves because I believe that their bodies should be viewed and cherished for how beautiful they already are. Whether you are keeping your images for yourself or gifting them to someone, I believe that boudoir sessions can increase your confidence immensely and they’re fun!

Do you have a lesson or advice you’d like to share with young women just starting out?
Education. Learn as much as you can and keep learning. You can learn something from every person you meet. Don’t ever be afraid to ask questions and believe in Yourself!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Sarah Haley, Erica Fagan, Kevin Ianelli, Jena Seiber, Tahlia Braccio, Jenna Giambrone

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