Local photographer strives to capture authenticity, soul, and connection to get one-of-a-kind images

By Hilary Dartt • Photos Courtesy of Kimberly Marsh Photography

Kimberly Marsh never planned to start a photography business. Now, a decade in, she said during a recent interview, “I love it.”

Kim specializes in portraits and personal branding—and doing things differently.

Shortly after she started photographing people, others would see the photos and say, “I can see their soul in that picture,” or, “I feel like I know them,” or, “I can see straight through them.”

That’s become her specialty: “People hire me for that authenticity and that soul and the creative side of it.”

“I’ve always wanted to be artistic,” she said. “I can’t draw or paint, and I freak out that I’m going to ruin a new journal.”

But when it comes to her photos, she’s an artist.

One look at her portfolio reveals her eye for the unique, from setting to props and everything in between. While her husband might notice and point out the sunset, Kim is drawn to old, falling-apart buildings, graffiti, and found objects (think old tires, abandoned cars, and back alleys). On her website, she writes that she loves urban decay and “anything abandoned,” and sees things “darker and more contrasty.”

“Anyone can go out in the middle of the forest during golden hour and make it pretty,” she said, “but if you can take something and make magic in a sh*tty location?”

Setting, lighting, and props are all elements of an epic image—another important element: is time.

“I can give you epic,” Kim said, “but you have to give me time to give you epic.”

Building a relationship with each of her clients is key to producing those soul-revealing photos. Whether she’s taking portraits or working longer-term with personal branding clients (more on that later), Kim loves the opportunity to get to know them on a deeper level.

Another place where time factors in because Kim learned photography on film, she learned to take her time for every shot, to look at the whole scene, and to plan out what she wanted to do.

“That made me slow down and pay attention, so I’d get everything right in the camera the first time around.”

At 40, after working in retail for years, the mother of four started earning her photography certificate at Yavapai College. She’d always had an interest in photography, especially in magazines, on album covers, in high fashion, and in street photography (these influences are evident in her work). She wanted to learn everything she could and took every class she could get her hands on, mastering everything from her camera to lighting to lenses to composition and more.

Before she knew it, her hobby had morphed into a bona fide business: Kimberly Marsh Photography.

While she does photograph portraits and weddings, Kim said her personal branding program is growing and she’s enjoying it. Here’s how it works: For a monthly fee, Kim provides a certain number of photos to business owners for their use in whatever medium they want. She spends time with her clients, shadowing them in their day-to-day activities (even hanging out at their home while they cook breakfast) to capture day-in-the-life moments they can post on social media.

These authentic, professional images, which go into an online gallery, stand out … producing better results than the cell phone pictures many entrepreneurs use on the go. Although her contracts require a six-month minimum commitment, most of her clients stay on with her because having the content to post regularly boosts their business. When she started this service in 2020, she and her clients saw an average of 300% growth in their businesses.

In everything she does, Kim strives to deliver the unique—not only in terms of the images but also in terms of the physical products. For senior portraits and wedding photos, she creates wood boxes with high-quality matte photos inside. She sources only the best quality wall hangings so her photos come out perfectly.

For Kim, every session is about delivering what she’s known for: “to get them something epic—and that’s literally the best thing ever.”

Learn more and see examples of Kim’s work at https://www.kimberlymarshphotography.com. Follow Kim on Instagram @kimberlymarshphotography