In 2017, attorney-turned-artist Katrine Moite immigrated to the United States from Ukraine, changing countries, languages, and her career in the process.
Three years later, Katrine is now one of New York’s most multi-talented photographers, shooting portraits, food, corporate, documentary, and fine art photography with a unique perspective and cinematic style.
While Katrine was originally a corporate attorney, she became a full-time photographer when she relocated to New York so her husband could attend graduate school at Columbia University.
“How I became a photographer is not a romantic story, but it’s real,” Katrine recounted. Since she was not licensed to practice law in the United States and was “definitely, definitely not doing law school twice,” she decided to try her hand at the creative career she had always considered but never pursued.
New to photography and new to New York, Katrine multi-tasked by using photography as a way to meet new people and explore the city. Katrine offered free photography to friends and local restaurants to quickly gain experience and build her portfolio.
“It worked out in the end, but it didn’t always feel it was working out,” admitted Katrine, recalling one of her first paid photo shoots when the client never showed.
“You can’t take failure as an omen, though. If destiny to be an artist was about it just working out, then no one would be an artist,”
While Katrine’s subject matter is diverse, she gravitates towards projects with a storytelling component, ranging from engagement shoots to weddings to documentary projects. “My favorite photos look like they are from a film or a painting,” Katrine smiled, noting her preference for wide shots, dramatic lighting, and romantic subjects.
For culinary and commercial photography, Katrine is exceptionally skilled at capturing common subjects with a fresh perspective. For example, rather than simply shooting a mouthwatering yet mundane burger, Katrine opted to shoot each component individually over an open flame for a delicious and eye-catching photo.
While law and photography are obviously very different fields, Katrine attributes much of her success as a photographer to her experience as an attorney.
“I am still basically working with clients. In both fields, you have to be adaptable, a quick problem solver, and professional under pressure. Whether it’s a wedding or a contract negotiation, you just have to make sure the client is happy!” Katrine said.
In addition to her paid work, Katrine enjoys working on documentary projects highlighting underrepresented social justice issues, such as her recent project focused on Pine Ridge Reservation, an Oglala Lakota Indian reservation in South Dakota.
“I grew up watching Western films with cowboys and Indians, so when I moved here, I was curious to see what the reality was,”
Shocked by the history of how Native Americans were treated and the rampant poverty faced by Native American communities, Katrine sought to document life on the reservations to bring attention to the issue.
“The scenes I saw reminded me of what it was like growing up in Ukraine…I was shocked this was the United States. I want this project to help people understand that even if you get assistance, or if you can physically escape poverty, it doesn’t mean you can escape mentally,” Katrine remarked.
Katrine hopes that her project will help raise public awareness and urgency for providing increased federal assistance to Native American communities.
No longer an attorney, but still an advocate, Katrine uses photography as a medium to expose injustice, empower others, and express herself. “Of course, not every photo has some message,” Katrine laughed, “but every photo has a story. And I think every story is important.”
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