We had the good fortune of connecting with Kira Purnell and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Kira, how do you think about risk?
I think about taking risks as something similar to taking a leap of faith. When you take a leap a faith per say, you are not sure of the outcome but have faith that it will work out for you in the end. It was a risk when I made the choice to start my own business. I invested in myself when I bought my first camera, I had never used a professional camera before, so I knew that I had work ahead of me. Yet, I was encouraged to share my gift with the world, and that was one of the best decisions of my life. This year has been an absolute rollercoaster. As a new business, especially in the photography industry, clients are a necessity. I had just taken a contract to shoot events for the city I live in, and business was picking up, until the pandemic hit. Everything stopped, there were no events, and social distancing began. I knew that I still needed to work on my craft, so I began to photograph what DFW was going through, like the empty streets, airports, and closed businesses. Then after the murder of George Floyd, I began photographing the movement. That is another risk that I decided to take, photographing protests, as a black woman, during a pandemic, with an immediate family member in the home fighting cancer. I felt like it was my duty, seeing how the protestors were being portrayed in the media as rioters and thugs made me angry. Here I was out at a lot of these protests and they never turned violent, and there was definitely no looting or rioting. I wanted the peaceful protests and events I went to had the light shined on them, even if it was only to a small following. Taking that risk and continuing to take those risks, has caused my work to be known amongst people who I may have never met  without the movement. Risks can cause a reward, and I plan to continue taking them throughout my life and career.    

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have been told that what sets me apart from others is my passion for photography. People who truly know me understand my love for photography. Some of them see it better than I do, because for me it is like second nature. I believe what sets me apart from others, is that my initial love was landscape photography. When I started my business, I decided to combine that love with portrait photography. The background of a photo is just as important as the subject. I feel like both make the photo complete, and showcases how I see the world. I come up with a lot of photo shoot ideas, and a lot of the time, it happens upon meeting someone. I am proud of how I have grown over the years that I have been shooting professionally. I keep all of my work, and I go back and look at old photo shoots and think of what I could have done differently, or what mistakes I made. It is a form of training for me, a way to pay attention to things that I would not normally pay attention to. Being self-taught has not been easy, but fortunately I have been blessed to have received valuable training from other photographers I have met through my church, social media, or in person. I also glean feedback from trusted friends, because another set of eyes looking at your work, can open your eyes to things you may not have viewed as important or a big deal. I have definitely learned some valuable lessons since I began, but the most important one to me is to always be myself. I think my personality sets me apart from others, so that is what I give my clients and potential clients. I am my brand, so I have to be sure that I am true to my values and beliefs, and I believe I show that through the type of work I put out, and the realtionships I have made.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love this question! I am not originally from Dallas, but I have lived here for almost 6 years. So as I mentioned earlier, landscapes are the canvas to my art. One of my favorite places to shoot is Las Colinas, TX. The canals are beautiful and there are so many restaurants and things to do there. Maybe we could catch a show at the Toyota music factory, or visit the Mustang Museum. Another city I love is Arlington, TX. Of course my friend and I would be visiting the Highlands to do a little shopping and snacking as well. Another location would be Deep Ellum. Deep Ellum is a creatives dream. The canvas of Deep Ellum is filled with various murals on the sides of buildings, sculptures, live music and restaurants, which all make for great photo ops. We would definitely visit the Dallas World Aquarium, one of the places I visited on my first and only trip to Dallas, prior to moving here four years later. Maybe an attempt at ice skating at the Galleria Mall, but a definite visit to one of my favorite restaurants, the Grand Luxe Café. Not only is the food amazing but the ambiance and décor of the restaurant is breathtaking. I would take her to Texas Live, because I have not been yet, so why not experience it together. From what I did see, it looks like a great place to hang out, watch a game, eat and have drinks. DFW offers so much to a tourist, and there is so much to see that this itinerary could go on and on. Whatever we don’t get in a week, we will definitely have something left to look forward to on the next visit.      

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My Shoutout goes to Not My Son. Not My Son is a non-profit organization that is focused on bringing the community together through events, rallies, and organized discussions focused on reforming city policies that perpetuate systems of oppression. I met the founder, Tramonica Brown one afternoon at city hall and I have been following her organization ever since. I felt drawn to the group, and I liked what they were doing for the community, but also the fact that they were doing it peacefully. The brother organization of Not My Son is The WatchMen, an organization privileged to serve their communities and ensure safety & a quality education for their community. I serve as the photographer with Not My Son as well as working with The Watchmen. I have found a family to fight alongside for justice and respect for black and brown people. Something I had never been so public or active about, is now something I enjoy doing. It is my way of giving back, and helped me discover my love for photojournalism.

Website: www.knicolephotos.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/knicolephotography17
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kira-purnell-photographer-56755a189/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/knicolephoto17
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/knicolephotography17

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutDFW is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.