Creator of the Month – Kristen Hechler

We are thrilled to shine a spotlight on the incredibly talented Kristen Hechler, our Creator of the Month. Hailing from the vibrant city of Orlando, Kristen is not just a photographer; she is a master in the art of capturing moments with a touch of upscale elegance.

Kristen’s distinctive style revolves around clean, elevated photography that transforms ordinary scenes into extraordinary visual experiences. Her eye for detail and a penchant for utilizing lighting in truly fascinating ways set her work apart in the realm of visual storytelling. Read on for a glimpse into Kristen’s creative mind as she shares thoughts on her artistic process, the stories behind her work, and the philosophy that drives her passion for photography.

Please share the story of how you first discovered your passion for photography. 

I wish I could say that photography has been a lifelong passion of mine, but in fact it came about as more of a divine intervention, or at least that’s how I like to see it 🙂 I got my BS in Biology, on track to become an orthodontist, but during my senior year I became completely disenchanted with the idea of 8 more years of science-related classes. So I graduated, floundered a little bit, and got a job with a fine jeweler as the second person in their marketing dept, which was where I first picked up a camera. After about a year I was let go – and in the same breath of firing me, the owner of the store told me that perhaps I could try marketing/photography as a side hustle – but that he wasn’t sure I had the self motivation to do so. I love sharing this story now because what had felt like a very bitter end to something, turned into a beautiful, nonetheless challenging, beginning to the next 8 years. Fueled originally by a stubborn indignance to prove someone wrong, that quickly morphed into an exciting adventure, and one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me. 

Your photography is described as clean, elegant, and upscale. How do you approach capturing images that convey such a refined aesthetic?

I would have to give full credit to the collection of clients I’ve been privileged to work with. Their dedication to creating magic within their field, holds me to a similar standard that I must uphold while shooting it. 

What, in your view, plays the most pivotal role in creating stunning photography? Do you consider the emphasis to be on the quality of equipment, or do you find that mastering lighting is the key to achieving truly remarkable and visually captivating images? Being able to see the image in your mind’s eye – even before looking through the viewfinder of your camera, is of the utmost importance in creating stunning photography. I think sometimes the technicalities of high-end equipment can actually get in the way of the creative process (I say that from personal experience) If you have the eye for photography, you’re going to create incredible photos, akin to anything else in life, if you don’t, no amount of equipment and lighting will help change that. 

What inspires your choice to focus on interior design, architecture, and fine art in your photography? Are there specific elements or aspects within these subjects that resonate with you and spark your creative inspiration?

I love to fully immerse myself in whatever I am shooting, work slowly and picture what I see happening during the shoot. The incredible power of light can elicit very powerful emotions; the way sunlight will cut through skyscrapers, or fall warmly across the foot of a bed, or the way moodier shadows can make you feel as though you are the only person in the world looking at this photograph. To be able to create nostalgia and nuance at the same time is what drives my passion behind shooting interiors, architecture and fine art. There’s a quote from Bruce Gilden, a famous street photographer who said “If you can smell the street by looking at the photo, it’s a street photograph”.

Collaboration seems to be a significant theme in your work. How do you navigate the collaborative process with your clients to bring their vision to life through your photography?

So, I tend to prefer super moody and dramatic images. It evokes more emotion in me as a viewer. However, that is specific to me and my brand – not everyone likes that, and that’s okay! I think it’s important to fully understand what every client wants; know their vision and expectations and ensure that you stay within that arena of play. Light and bright makes far more sense for most of my clients – so I think it’s vital to check my ego at the start of a new working relationship, and remember that while I am a creative professional, I am first and foremost in customer service. And just like anything, that’s a skill I’ve cultivated with time and experience. I also always take time to shoot on my own, for myself, so that none of my creative vision gremlins infiltrate a client’s photoshoot!

In your creative journey, is there a specific project or photo shoot that stands out as particularly memorable or challenging? Could you share the story behind it?

All photoshoots are memorable and simultaneously challenging, but there are three that stand out in my memory. The first would be from a photoshoot in November of 2021 – I had just started working with the publication The Scout Guide Orlando as one of their photographers – and the editor asked me if I could shoot for one of the fine artists that had signed on. He had already had a photoshoot, and while the photos were beautiful, he didn’t feel they were creative enough. So could I come, shoot, and be creative 🙂 Which, being creative on demand is always daunting. I arrived at his studio and we walked around a little bit – we were in the back of the warehouse of his showroom and I saw a super tall ladder – and it sort of just hit me, why don’t I climb on the ladder and you lay down on one of your paintings? And that ended up being the photo. It was just one of those shoots that validated the path I had chosen, and to be recognized as a creative by an artist is one of the most humbling compliments, in my opinion, that I can receive. 

The other two photoshoots were less about challenge and more about the magical timing of the image – one was in Vero Beach for a women’s boutique lifestyle photoshoot in 2018, and one was for a landscape architect in Winter Park in 2019. I have a small Tibetan Spaniel named Bendel, and I love bringing her everywhere with me. And I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a photographer, so she’s used to wanting to be within my line of sight, and therefore, within the frame of the camera- but she casually walked into two shots that became so iconic due to the organic nature of it. So much so, the one for the landscape architect ran in Architectural Digest on three separate occasions. It was like a blending of two of my greatest loves in this world. 

In addition to your photography, you also offer social media marketing services. How do you integrate visual storytelling into social media strategies, and what unique value do you believe it adds for your clients?

All of life is about sharing your story with others; whether it’s through word of mouth, photography, video, or music. And I think the beautiful thing about social media is the ability to incorporate all of those aspects to connect with others and enhance our worlds. I think visually sharing each client’s brand story is key to connecting with clients, old and new, and keeping them engaged and invested with the brand; to create lifelong loyalty is my ideal outcome.

As a prodigious planner, could you share insights into how you leverage your Dutch and Deckle Planner to enhance and organize your business processes? How does this planning tool contribute to the success and efficiency of your work?

While the majority of my photoshoots are booked and scheduled by the client in my google calendar – visually I don’t find the google calendar very appealing or inspiring. I’ve also noticed that if I write something down, and I see it written in my own handwriting, I will remember it. Luckily, my Dutch & Deckle planner showed up in my life earlier this year, at a very critical point, and it was a total lifesaver. I transferred all photoshoots from google into my planner – and that way I could visualize my week and my month at a glance every day. I chose the Coronado linen color – which is like a warm lime, it’s so unique and beautiful I just love how bright and joyful it is – and paired with the gold coil and foil – it’s a visual treat. I also had the name of my business, Kristen Elizabeth Studio, put on the spine – which is a daily motivational reminder that I created something on my own and I have a responsibility to get things done! 

Do you have a mentor that has been instrumental in shaping your artistic path?

I’d have to say that every single one of my clients has been instrumental in shaping my path. I have learned extremely valuable information from every job I’ve had. All my clients are small business owners and have a unique set of skills and talents. I think that is the beauty of my working experience thus far, no two people, jobs, or photoshoots are alike – and not every relationship or job is built to last – but every single one has taught me something, and for that I am immensely grateful.


Instagram: @ohkayykk 



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