KARINA MARIE DIAZ AND HER COUPLES ENJOY A SPECIAL BOND
TEXT BY ALICE B. MILLER • IMAGES BY KARINA MARIE DIAZ
For Karina Marie Diaz, having her own San Francisco wedding photography business, and loving it the way she does, is a dream come true. With little previous business experience or photo training, Diaz has built a booming wedding business that grows with each passing day.
In recent months, Wedding Channel has featured her in their new
website launch, the Nob Hill Gazette has featured her
couples six times in its Mergers & Acquistions section, and she
was the only wedding/baby photographer featured in the new book
Unique Places, showcasing the coolest small businesses in
San Francisco. Since 2000, 17 of her weddings have been published
in San Francisco Bride, Northern California Modern
Bride, The Knot, and Wedding
"I had only imagined this kind of life," says Diaz. "To have it
finally come to fruition has been more than exhilarating. The rush
I get from my job—more like my lifestyle—keeps me
motivated through the mistakes and sometimes slow learning
For this self-described "sensitive, intuitive" spirit,
everything is coming together. Recently settled into a splendid new
three-story studio in the SOMA district—"a really large space
with the kind of light I dream about"-her top priority is to create
time to do the things that mean the most to her.
For starters, she now outsources her images to three different
printers and has hired a retoucher, bookkeeper, housecleaner,
handyman, computer wiz, and an associate photographer, Erin
Conforti, whose "photography and philosophy mirror mine in some
ways and complement them in others. If I ever get married, I'd love
her to photograph my wedding."
THE DIAZ DIFFERENCE
Diaz enjoys close supportive ties with her brides, before and after their wedding days. "I listen to and watch my clients before the wedding, so by the time the Big Day arrives, I know what they want, what they mean." Choosing not to be invisible on their wedding day, "I like my clients to know I'm there for them. I'm six feet tall anyway," she says. Her work reflects this rapport, capturing the emotions and beauty of the day more than documenting the event.
She'll tell you she has no set formula, rather she responds to
her clients on an emotional level and takes it from there. "There's
no pattern. Every wedding looks different because each couple is
unique. Capturing the true personalities of each couple makes each
day fresh, challenging, and exciting—things I personally
cannot work without."
Her clients, typically local couples who find her through her
website, www.KMDPHOTO.com, are most interested in portraits
that look more like art than wedding photos. One of her light
tricks is using long exposures with a flash at the end or the
beginning to freeze the couple and get some dramatic
With an affinity for design, Diaz does all the art direction of
the website, logo design, advertising, promotions, special gift
boxes. She loves packaging and presentation, and has fun creating
the albums. Clients are often surprised at the close personal
detail she puts into each order.
Some of her visual insights derived during a modeling career that began when she was six, in an Oscar Meyer commercial. "I was so tall and thin, everyone said I should model. I did it for years, eventually working and living in New York City, then discovered it was not for me. I was way too shy and not really good at it anyway."
PERSONALITY HER CALLING CARD
Beyond the positive buzz she receives from clients, Diaz considers her personality, style, and energy all part of her marketing/advertising initiative. Her website is "like a fancy business card for 2002." And apparently it's working. She shot 45 weddings in 2001, and 35 already this year. Whereas Diaz won't cover a wedding without an album, her associate photographer will shoot more flexible packages.
While digital may be in her future—"I do love
technology!"—for now she's sticking with her Nikons, Holga,
and Kodak negative film. "Also, fiber prints are something I'm not
willing to let go off at his time."
Diaz looks to a time when she no longer feels she's trying to
catch up with herself, can enjoy workouts three days a week, and
expand her baby portrait business for her wedding