Katee Pederson
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Updates, personal work, new adventures, and behind the scenes by photographer Katee Pederson.

Amara Collective

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On my recent trip to Guatemala, I teamed up with the wonderful Becky Stone of Amara Collective to create some photographs for her business. Becky moved from her home in the UK to Antigua Guatemala about 5 years ago for what was intended to be a few months of learning Spanish. She fell in love with the community and found ways to make her stay more permanent - serving, teaching english, nannying, and eventually starting her business. Amara is an online shop which sells custom leather bags, shoes, and accessories world wide. Becky employs local artisans to bring her designs to life and uses beautiful leathers and ethically sourced recycled textiles to make each piece unique.

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The first step in building up a catalogue of photographs for use on Amara’s Etsy and Instagram was to visit the artisans who create the pieces. Orlando, a shoe-maker, greeted us in his shop to show us a few steps in his process, starting with cutting out the textiles and singeing the edges.

Orlando is who Becky communicates with the most as far as shoe-making goes, but he has others on his team who contribute to different parts of the build. He cut out a few leather pieces to pass on to one of the team members and I listened in on a pleasant exchange when he stopped by. Orlando introduced Becky as “the one who gives us all the work” and when Becky expressed her surprise that he didn’t have other big clients he explained that yes, they work with other sellers, but she’s the one who keeps them in business. While Becky was aware of the amount of work she provided these men with, she never imagined that without her online store they wouldn’t be making a living wage. I’ve always told myself that I don’t want to grow into more than a one-woman show but I think one of the greatest accomplishments would be in the ability to provide meaningful employment for other people.

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Next Orlando lead us across the street to another shop where we saw how multiple pieces of leather are layered to create a wood-like grain for the heel and sole.

Back in Orlando’s shop he put the finishing touches on a couple pairs of boots and some shoes before we headed out. He stamped them with their size, cut and glued insoles, and gave them a final once-over, cleaning up any loose ends. It was easy to see how much care Orlando puts into everything he makes.

Next on our tour we visited Esuardo, a bag maker, in his home where he works with his mother. Becky had a new design to check in on and some orders to pick up and we were able to catch a glimpse of the two of them at work. Esuardo also made me a wallet while I was in the country, so let me know if you want to see a piece of his handiwork in person.

Now that we had captured a bit of the process that brings these products to life, it was time to show other aspects of Amara Collective’s story. We started with some simple headshots of Becky on our way out to dinner that evening. She put up a bit of a fight, not wanting to be in front of the camera, but we had some fun with it and she was pleased with the results - after posting one as her profile picture on facebook it was clear she wasn’t the only one.

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A big part of making sure all of the photos for Amara are cohesive and on-brand is designing a custom editing style. Becky and I worked together with these photos to create a look that compliments her logo and brand. I then made sure to apply this “filter” throughout every photograph I delivered.

The next day Becky and I met with a friend of hers who volunteered to model some of her pieces. As a bit of a collaboration with Becky’s roommate who co-own’s a clothing company called Cosa Flor, we had the model wearing one of their beautiful dresses.

Becky was also generous enough to spend a day showing my around Antigua, so we brought a few of her pieces along to photograph in different places around town. These will be great to use throughout her social media.

Lastly, Becky played the role of foot model as I photographed a variety of her shoes along Antigua’s cobblestone streets for her online store.

Here’s what Becky had to say about the whole experience:

“Katee was so wonderful to work with! She spent time getting to know me and my products before the shoot and seemed to really understand the heart of the brand and know exactly how to capture that in her photographs. My model commented on how at ease Katee made her feel and how good she was at directing her to look her best, and I couldn't agree more! I am so happy with the results and so thankful for the time, care and patience that Katee invested in the photographs. I am already looking forward to working together again in the future.”

I love, love, LOVED working with Becky to bring the story of her brand to life! If you are interested in any of these products or in seeing what else Amara Collective has available, visit their Etsy Store and be sure to follow them on Instagram.

If you want to see how brand photography can enhance your business, visit my branding page and get in touch!