Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites

National recognition for animal photographer

Kathi Lamm shares talent for capturing animals' personalities

SPOKESMAN PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Kathi Lamm has lived and operated her business in Wilsonville for the past 12 years.Some photographers specialize in shooting nature. Some prefer sporting events or portraits of people. Kathi Lamm, however, is known for her award-winning photography of animals.

Originally from Missouri, Lamm, 65, moved to Lake Oswego in 1974. She worked with handicapped children as an occupational therapist, but dabbled with photography on the side. In 1985 she decided it was something she wanted to pursue on a permanent basis, diving headfirst into her company of now 30 years, Lamm Photography.

What made her unique from her competition was her passion and connection with animals, stemming from her childhood and long-time interest in horses.

“I always loved horses, and a friend of mine was into barrel racing with horses at the time,” Lamm says. “I started taking photos of the events and really enjoyed it. I soon realized that people loved their dogs, so it evolved into people with their animals in general.”

Lamm eventually moved to West Linn in 1988 where she operated her business out of her home. She continued to shoot animal portraits and people with their pets, but longed to live on a property that allowed room for her horses.

After a long search, Lamm, and her husband, Steve, found the perfect location nestled in the outskirts of Wilsonville. The five-acre property allowed room for her two horses, Thunder and Mills, and two donkeys, Brady and Barney.

SPOKESMAN PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Kathi Lamm has shot a great deal of award-winning photography since starting her business 30 years ago.“When I was looking at places to move where I could have my horses on the property I was finding places that were great for the horses but horrible for the business, or places that were good for the business but bad for the horses,” Lamm said. “This one, finally, after about seven years of looking, fit both criteria.”

While a lot has changed since Lamm first moved to Lake Oswego, one thing has not. Her passion for animals and photography has held true the entire time, resulting in a heap of both local and national accolades.

Lamm was most recently named a Gold Medalist at Professional Photographers of America’s 2015 International Photographic Competition. She submitted four prints, earning merits for all four, including the honor of having two selected for the Loan Collection.

Of more than 2,100 applicants at this year’s competition, Lamm was one of only 101 gold medalists.

The award is just one more in a collection that has included Professional Photographers of Oregon Portrait Photographer of the Year in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and recently the Jerry Auker Award - the one accolade she’s most proud of.

The Jerry Auker Award is given to the Professional Photographers of Oregon member deemed to have contributed the most significant amount of photography related value, either services or physical assets, to community service during the year.

Lamm was recognized for her contributions to the Cat Adoption Team and Feral Cat Coalition over the past year.

“I photograph Cat Adoption Team and Feral Cat Coalition auctions every year,” Lamm says. “Cat Adoption Team puts out a calendar, and then people that go to the auction pay to have their cat photographed to be in the calendar. So I volunteer to shoot a few of the people that buy a spot at the auction.”

When Lamm isn’t busy donating her time to various animal foundations or doing work her clients, she’s working on improving her craft.

While she says entering work in competitions can be daunting because of the critical feedback and blunt honesty judges can sometimes dish out, she enjoys the process because it provides education and inspiration to continue getting better.

“You sit there and judges look at your photos and kind of find the things that are wrong with them. They’ll say good things but they’ll also tell you the bad things, so you have to deal with that,” Lamm says. “But it’s educational, too. When I do go out and shoot something those judges’ critiques are kind of hardwired into your brain, so you look at things differently like expressions or how arms are resting — really small things that you might not have thought of but that do make a difference.”

It can be hard to get an animal to cooperate for a picture, especially when dealing with multiple animals.

Lamm has shot as many as a dozen dogs at a time, for example, providing only a second or two of time when all the canines are looking in the right direction or in favorable, flattering positions.

“I usually get everything set up and put a person on each side of the puppies but out of the shot. I make funny little noises and squeak and bark. You have about four or five shots you can get while everyone is looking usually and then they’re done.”

Lamm has had her struggles with getting animals to cooperate, especially in group settings, but says it’s always worth the trouble.

“I want the animal to look good,” she says. “If they’re overweight I choose angles to make them thinner for instance. I like to do a lot of older dogs and cats, so we try to prop them up and look younger. It’s not just pointing the camera and shot gunning. I look at the background, and the lighting and a whole lot of other elements.”

Lamm plans on spending as much time with her horses as possible in the coming years while continuing her photography.

Lamm’s photographs titled “Welcome Wagon” and “Peek and Boo” will be on display at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, Jan. 10-12, 2016, during one of the world’s largest annual exhibits of professional photography.