02 Kat Swansey; A 2021 Introduction

January 02, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Hi y’all! I figured my first blog post of the new year should be a quick introduction to my new and old friends. I’m Kat and I’m glad you’re here! 

I picked up my first camera at age 13 and I’ve been obsessed with photography ever since. I’ve primarily shot film for the last 15 years when me and my dad accidentally bought my beloved Canon Rebel K2 instead of a DSLR - my favorite mistake! I still own this camera and shoot with it often. Though I did briefly dabble with digital, I knew shooting film was where my heart was and quickly shelved my DSLR for nine years before eventually selling it in 2018.

I’ve always had a deep love for the small towns I grew up in. I did my best to photograph them and those scenes from everyday life, but I never quite loved any of the photos. I decided to give it up and spent nearly all of high school and my early 20s photographing bands and people. ✨Surprise!✨ I didn't always photograph abandoned buildings! I refer to this era of my photography as my 'identity crisis' because I truly hated portraits, but I was lost and wanted to be behind a camera. 

Sometime around 2013, Chris Ruiz and I began venturing into small towns around Austin, Texas, where I have lived for the last 12+ years. Visiting those small towns reminded me of home and how much I always miss it. At first I was insecure and felt like I still couldn’t get my photos where I wanted them, but I knew I was on the right track. Some days I still struggle with this and I'm always working hard to improve, but overall I’m extremely proud of my photography. Though I’m sometimes disappointed by what I see in small towns (politically, etc), I feel sharing these mostly forgotten places is one of my life’s greatest gifts. I have learned that there is so much more than meets the eye. These places may be slowly falling off the map, but there is still a huge sense of community. Everyone looks out for each other. Most of these places have been left to rot, but at one point that building, car, or home was filled with pride and love for those who inhabited it. So while I intentionally leave humans out of my photos, my ultimate goal is to still bring some humanity or breathe life back into those places. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that life does exist outside of my comfort zone but visiting these towns and having conversations with people who live there is a great reminder of how different our lives can be, and that I am always so grateful for what I have and the luxuries I’ve been afforded.

When I’m not out shooting, I love watching the San Antonio Spurs, reading old westerns, and shooting the shit at the honky tonk. I am all hat and no cattle these days, but I proudly still wear my cowgirl boots and hat (yes, I’ve been asked) and I love my record collection full of country and western that I mostly stole borrowed for an indefinite amount time from my grandparents. It was my grandparents' fondness for looking through their old family photos that instilled in me a love for photography. They also spent a good chunk of their retirement raising me and making sure I got my shit together. I owe them the world but I pay them in hugs and admiration. My paternal grandfather was a school teacher and hobby photographer who had an insane collection of cameras, lenses, and darkroom equipment. I was always fascinated by it as a kid and I wish we’d had more time together so I could learn from him. He died when I was 10, but I am fortunate to have his old Miranda camera and several telephoto lenses that I display proudly in my home. They are a good reminder to keep doing what I love, and that is being behind a camera as much as possible.

Thanks for taking the time to read more about me. The film community has been so welcoming and supportive of me throughout the years, so I hope in 2021 I'm able to get to know you all better too. As always, if you'd like to know more or just say hi, please drop me a comment below or shoot me an email

This portrait was taken by Jordan Martinelli on Fuji 200 using a Canon Elan 7NE. She’s a wonderful photographer and one of my best friends, please check her out on Instagram! 


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