Kara Jensen Photography
By Athena Raypold

A Brightly Coloured, Fantastical World

Born an artist in a family of musicians and makers, Kara Jensen of Kara Jensen Photography has always had a palette in one hand and a paintbrush in the other. From the age of 12, Kara’s art depicted the brightly coloured, fantastical world of a child’s imagination. She even invented a combination art box and easel, which her dad built for her; she used it daily for drawing and painting. “My mom always jokes that when I would paint and draw downstairs, the sink was disgusting,” she says. “I would always be pouring paint into it and washing my hands. But she never got upset or angry; it was just the art.”

Growing up as an artist in a small, rural town, Kara often felt like an odd duck; the other kids were cowboys and adventurers, whereas Kara just wanted to act in plays, paint murals and take pictures. Luckily, between her musician father, weaver mother, knitter grandmother, imaginative sister and artistic best friend, a supportive, creative community surrounded her. Knowing that she wanted to be an artist from the sixth grade, Kara pursued a bachelor's degree in Education, minoring in Fine Arts. She taught kindergarten and music for nine years but her artistic identity prevailed. She drew and painted regularly, and she enrolled in photography and knitting lessons.

I’m not just a photographer, I’m an artist. When I have an idea in my head, I can’t put that idea away until it’s out. - Kara Jensen, artist and photographer
Kara Jensen Photography combines newborn photography with creative photoshoot ideas and hand knit items for the babies to wear
Photo by Kara Jensen Photography

Knitting and Babies

Kara's family's creative legacy has spanned generations. “My grandma was always knitting,” she says. “When I was born, she knit me this bear. It’s kind of ugly actually, but I love it. It was the toy; that was Bear for me. I still have him. I took him everywhere. Her knitting meant everything to me as a kid. Until she died, she was still knitting. The last thing she ever knit was a bear for my daughter.” After her grandma passed away, Kara and her sister inherited all of her knitting needles and Kara is often told how similar her knitting is to her grandma’s – a welcome compliment and wonderful tribute.

As much as Kara grew up as an artist, she also grew up loving and looking after babies. The first time she cared for a newborn, Kara was 12 years old, and she treated that precious baby with the care, reverence, respect and wonder that only a baby can elicit. From the start, Kara has felt compelled to protect and care for babies, so that need translated perfectly into her posed newborn photography. “[Many people] think I’m going to plunk this baby down into a pose and it’s easy,” Kara says, “but it’s hard and the safety aspect is really important.”

Kara Jensen Photography works with clients to create a unique newborn photography concept
Photo by Kara Jensen Photography
Kara Jensen Photography combines newborn photography with knitting and art, resulting in unique newborn photos, like this sushi baby
Photo by Kara Jensen Photography

Combining her Passions

When she discovered that photography played beautifully with her love of art, light and shadow, Kara began taking workshops and courses, learning everything she could about photography. Using her daughters as subjects, Kara honed her craft, continually building upon her knowledge, experience and skills, always aiming to create a work of art that doesn’t just make her proud, but that also thrills her clients.

Combining her passions – art, knitting, newborns and photography – into one area of expertise was an organic collaboration. Eager to please, and playful at heart, Kara loves to take a client’s idea and make it a reality. For example, a client came to her with the idea of a sushi-themed newborn shoot and Kara made it happen. She knitted a sushi sac, sewed a little fish and drew illustrations of the mother’s favourite sushi, then combined the art, knitting and photography into one colourful, curated piece. “I’m not just a photographer,” she says. “I’m an artist. When I have an idea in my head, I can’t put that idea away until it’s out.”

From fox themes for woodland nurseries to matryoshka dolls for a Russian family, as well as traditional newborn photography, Kara creates childhood artifacts – works of art – for families to enjoy. Her newborn art is a painstakingly thorough process that requires a lot of planning (idea creation, knitting outfits, preliminary sketches, final painting, studio photography and photo editing, plus composite building), as well as revisions and communication to ensure she is achieving her clients’ vision. Add to the artwork, her beautiful traditional photography and posed newborns (alone and with their parents), and Kara is providing clients with a complete selection of art and photography to document their newborn child’s beginning.

Kara Jensen Photography creates unique newborn photography setups, including knitting costumes for the babies to wear
Photo by Kara Jensen Photography
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