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A Written Portrait of Me

katyWelcome to Photographer Katy Tartakoff
YOU are Special. Yes. YOU. As a professional photographer of over 40 years, I take great pride in showing you how beautiful and how special you are as reflected through the lens of my eye and the lens of my camera. Whether making a portrait of a person or a portrait of a flower, a bird or a landscape, I consider photography to be an art form which allows me to capture the essence and Spirit of all life.

A Kodak Moment
You’ve likely heard the saying, “that is a Kodak moment.” It means a priceless moment captured in a photograph. Imagine being 10 years old and getting your first camera. I was in heaven. With my Kodak Instamatic loaded up with black and white film and some flash bulbs in my pocket, I walked out the door and began what was to become my life work. At that time, Kodak made many of the cameras on the market as well as the film. Growing up outside of Boston in a home where people from Africa, Morocco, Turkey and other parts of the world lived with us as Sisters and Brothers, I loved photographing people. Looking back to that time, I realize how very special it was. I also see how lucky I was to grow up with such wonderful diversity. I was fascinated by faces, expressions, mannerisms. This passion for photography has deepened and now, 51 years later, I am obsessed with making photos of people as well as making fine art photos which capture the beauty surrounding us on a daily basis. I have been blessed with capturing many “Kodak Moments.”

The Story of Your Life
I like to consider myself the keeper of people’s stories. I document The Story of Your Life via photographs. From birth to death and everything in between, I am honored to make photos of children and families from year to year and from generation to generation. With many families spread throughout the world, making a full family photo takes planning. I encourage people to schedule photo sessions during the holidays or special occasions when everyone is all together. Having a photo of two, three, four or even five generations is priceless. While iPhone photos and selfies are fun, there is nothing quite as beautiful or as striking as a clean, simple, professional studio portrait which focuses on people in the photo and the relationships everyone has to one another.

Studio Portraits vs. Outdoors or In Home
For me, there is a power and a raw beauty in a portrait with a black background, simple, dark, solid colors of clothing, bare feet and casual clothing. The light is controlled to best highlight the faces and to be as flattering as possible. I can specifically focus on the person or people in front of the camera, talk, ask questions, find out a about their lives and put all my focus in to watching expressions, body movements, little nuances and wait until I see a perfect moment to click the shutter. The photo is solely about the people in front of the lens. I gently direct and guide people in order to make sure they like the angle of their face or their expression.
When I am in the studio making photos, the rest of the world goes away. I literally focus all of my energy and attention on making photos which not only capture the love and essence I see in people, but creates a final outcome of photographs people love of themselves.

When making portraits outdoors or in someone’s home, much of the portrait becomes about the surroundings and distracts from the people in the photo. While these can be beautiful photos, and I do many of them, they have a very different feel than an in studio portrait. In terms of outdoor portraits, we are also challenged with ever changing light, inconsistent weather, finding the best time of day for the most flattering light, making sure people are not too hot or too cold and things like that. In a home, I take in to consideration finding a spot where there are not things on the walls which will detract from the photo, finding a place everyone can sit together that is not too cluttered and gives me enough room to move around. While I can and will do on location photos, and will do a nice job, I prefer the clean, simple look of a portrait that is all about the people in the photo.

It’s All About Love
For me, making photos of people over a lifetime is about capturing the love in a person’s eyes, the expressions, the connection to family and friends. In our true essence we are love. That love contains joy, sadness, fear, anger. The love contains life experiences. One of the gifts of having been making photographs for so many years is, I am able to put people at ease. I understand what people like and don’t like when they see photos of themselves. Many of my clients have become dear friends over the years. Being a photographer is not a job for me. It is my life. I love what I do and I love the people I meet. I am truly grateful and feel extremely blessed. I am one of the luckiest people on earth.

My Promise
I promise you will love the photos you leave with. If you are unhappy with your photos for any reason at all, I will re-do them until you love them. I fully understand and honor the investment of time and money it takes to come in for professional
portraits. I don’t want you just to like them, I want you to love them. To this day, I have people come up to me whom I may have not seen for 20 or 30 years and they share how the portraits I made for them still bring them great joy every single day and how much they treasure them. I take pride in making portraits which people love, which stand the test of time and which are treasured from generation to generation.

On the Wall or In a Book vs A CD or On Your Phone
Call me old fashioned, but I love seeing my family photos framed up and hanging on the walls. I love going in to people’s homes and seeing their family photos hanging on the walls or sitting on shelves. I love sitting on the couch and picking up a book that has photos of people’s families over the years. There are always such rich stories about the people in the photos. Have you ever gone to a memorial service or someone’s home after a loved one has died? We are all drawn to the photos of that person’s life and love looking at them and sharing memories. It’s really fun when we see ourselves with that person. The photos are the documentation of the Stories of our Lives. They are markers of our history. In an ideal world, I would love to see a mix of all the above. I encourage people to make prints of special photos. Whether or not you hang them up, place them on a shelf or in a book or simply set them in an archival box that you can take out when you wish, I feel it is important to have actual prints. I have friends who take out all of the photos from birth on up of their children for their birthday and share the story of how they came in to the world, when they first spoke, when they got their first tooth…. A CD is a great way to archive the photos and to share them with family and friends via email or social media as is having them on our phone. Please keep in mind with ever changing technology, we may not always be able to access the photos and in some cases, the memory cards, back up drives and phones crash and we lose everything. Who knows what will happen to The Cloud. I invite you to consider having quality, archival prints made of the photos that are most special to you and/or having a book made so you have a fun and easy way to enjoy your photos and pass them along to the next generation.

Giving Back
Giving back to society is very important to me. Doing Photography for Social Reform is in my heart and in my soul. Educating people via photography and writing is a profound and poignant way to tell a story. When given the chance and given the right fit, I take great pleasure in working with organizations that need photographs to help share a message. I am also happy to donate gift certificates to school auctions and nonprofits doing good work. I am a big believer in supporting our local schools so that children can have the education and the supplies they need as well as supporting non profits who are enriching our lives.

Love and Blessings to All
I welcome ALL people. Everyone and anyone is welcome to come in for portraits. I look forward to meeting you. Please feel free to contact me with any thoughts, questions or to schedule an appointment.

A Day at Anchor Center for Blind Children


I packed all of my camera equipment and got into my Mini red sleigh.
After unloading it all at the Anchor Center for Blind Children, it was then time to play.
With the help of Dawn and some elves, one of the rooms was made into a photo studio. Hooray, hooray!


‘Twas two days before Christmas, the energy was high.
As the children saw Santa, eyes filled with delight.
Some of the children could see a tiny bit, some not at all,
but they felt his presence and all were enthralled.


Some of the children came in for photos with siblings, some with parents, grandparents, and in a few cases I photographed just the children by themselves. I wanted to make sure I captured their beauty and the relationships amongst family members. I found myself watching very carefully, gently guiding, waiting… waiting for that connection between mother and child, waiting for the child to have her or his head in just the right position that the viewer could truly see the child’s beauty.

By the end of the day, I had photographed 35 children and families. I was moved by the warmth and caring that abounded throughout the school. The Anchor Center for Blind Children is filled with love. For me, this was the best Christmas I could have asked for.

Alive and Thriving at 100


It’s truly special when parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents can know one another. Lucky for the Epperson and Wolfe Family, the wise sage and matriarch, Trudy, is alive and thriving at 100 years of age.

I’ve been photographing Judy Wolfe, her two sons, John and Jay, and her husband, Jody, since her sons were young boys, and photographing her grandsons and daughter-in-law since those boys were babies. Recently I had the honor of photographing the whole family in my Northfield Stapleton Studio. I was astonished at how aware, agile, bright and present great-grandmother Trudy was during the sitting. Sad to say, her memory seems better than mine!

We took photographs of the four generations together, then paired them in all sorts of combinations. The young boys are now fathers of sons older than John and Jay were when they first came for photos. What a treasure! A big thank-you to the whole family for choosing me as their photographer through the years. I’m truly grateful to document the story of your life.

Before they left, I asked Trudy if she had any words of wisdom after living for 100 years. Her reply? “Yes, many.” No doubt. One hundred years of life. Imagine that.

Josh, Kristy and Emma

In February of 2013, my nephew Josh came to Colorado for an interview to go to medical school. While here, he found out he was accepted into Rocky Vista University of Osteopathic Medicine. Yes, I am a proud and bragging aunt. All of my nieces and nephews are amazing. I love them dearly and am grateful to have a sweet relationship with each of them.

I digress. In July of 2013, Josh, his wife Kristy and one month old baby Emma arrived in Colorado. It is the first time since I moved here in 1973 that I have had family living here.

I feel like the cobbler who has no shoes. It was difficult to get Josh and his family to come in to the studio for nice portraits. He does not love having his photo made and was very busy with med school. Kristy and Emma came a couple of times without my nephew. The day finally came when I got the three of them in and I was thrilled.

Yes, I made photos most of the times we visited. They are fun and wonderful to have. However, not the same as a clean, simple photo without all of the distractions.

On June 15th, Emma turned a year old. I hope you enjoy the progression with the final photo being Emma running down the sidewalk on her first Fourth of July. I am in a little bit of heaven as I get to spend time with Josh and his family. Watching Emma growing up is a treat I savor along with the time I get to spend with all three of them.

Oregon Coast