One Healthy Photographer, Kate Petrone, is a Hamptons local with an eye for art, both in and out of the kitchen. Her love for photography and for life grow with each day she embraces. Enjoy learning more about Kate and tune in to her words of wisdom on doing what you love and treating yourself, and others, right.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did ‘life as you know it’ come to be? How did you get into photography and what do you like best about it?
I feel very lucky and blessed to have had the opportunity to grow up out here. I was originally born in Rockville Centre, but my family moved out here because of all the wonderful things they heard about the school system. I began kindergarten in Amagansett Elementary School, and then went to East Hampton for middle school and my freshman year of high school. Growing up, my mom always had a camera in her hand, whether she was taking pictures and videos of me or photographing the beautiful scenery out here. However, it wasn’t until I transferred to The Ross School my sophomore year of high school that I really discovered my love for photography.
It started with an intro darkroom class and I completely fell in love with it. I learned how to develop my own film, print my own photos, and I even mixed my own chemicals. The satisfaction I got from looking at a print I made entirely on my own was addictive. I got to travel to Australia with my photography class during my junior year of high school, where we spent three weeks taking pictures and exploring. During my senior year, I started my senior thesis project, which, as a final product, ended up being a show of over 50 prints ranging in size from 11×14 to 16×20.
Once I graduated, I went to The School of Visual Arts in NYC where I earned a BFA in photography. I remember my first day of class, everyone brought in his or her portfolio, and the guy sitting next to me asked to see mine. Once he saw they were all black and white, hand-printed photos, he casually said, “oh, I’ve never been in a darkroom before.” It blew my mind how someone in school for photography had never been in the darkroom to learn the fundamentals of the art. It was then that I decided to be different, to choose a traditional form of photography over digital photography. Instead of using the computer to make a photograph into art, I wanted to explore other methods and I ultimately chose Wet Plate Collodion Photography, which originated in the 1850’s and was actually the second form of photography ever invented. You’ll see some of my work here.
I photograph on black tin and clear glass, creating both negative (ambrotypes) and positive (tintype) images. My 8×10 camera is made out of cherry wood and I have a French Darlot brass portrait lens made in 1871. It produces beautiful, timeless photographs that have an eerie, dreamy quality to them as well.
2. Is there any overlap in your love for photography and your value for health, and wellness? Do you ever combine the two? In what ways?
That’s a great question! I think my value for health and wellness rolls into every aspect of my life, whether it’s my relationship with my family and my boyfriend, my job, my love for photography, even the way I interact with other people. There’s something to be said about the method of photography I have chosen to practice. It’s completely organic and a really stripped-down way to produce art. I love photographing my friends and family, and making still lifes out of every day objects that are a part of my life. As an example, a friend of mine passed away a few years ago, and every year since then a group of us go down to the beach with white roses and throw them in the water for her. Well one year, I was walking along the beach about a week later, and I saw one of the roses. It was weathered from the salt water but was still insanely beautiful. I took it home that day and made a portrait of it.
I also use Instagram to post photos of new, healthy recipes or fitness goals I make. I use the photo app to check-in to a fitness community I’m a part of called Tone It Up. This allows everyone in the community to connect from all over the world. When I’ve made a masterpiece in the kitchen, I love taking photos and uploading them to share over social media, I love trying new things and getting feedback from others. Social media check-ins are a really great way to stay motivated and it’s fun to incorporate photography in to this practice.
3. What is your favorite workout? Favorite weekend activity?
I’ve been getting into spinning recently, which I love because it’s fast-paced and really challenging, but fun at the same time. I found that spin class motivates me to push myself to levels I didn’t know I could reach.
I’ve always loved yoga too. I practice Ashtanga, which is all about challenging yourself and focusing on your breath. No matter how much you’re sweating or what posture you’re in, if you’re not breathing correctly, you’re not practicing correctly. There’s always room for improvement. One of the things I have always loved about yoga is that there’s no competition. It’s all about bettering yourself and focusing on no one but yourself.
On the weekends, I love to relax, go wine tasting, spend time with loved ones and get some fresh air! Another thing I do is meal prep for the week ahead, it’s such a good way to plan healthy meals. I love having people over on Sunday to watch the game, and I’ll make a big pot of chili or throw together something in the crock pot and know I’ll be able to eat all week.
4. As a young woman, photographer, girlfriend, member of the community, etc. how do you maintain balance in your life?
I’m very lucky to have such a wonderful family and a loving boyfriend who have supported me with any decision I have made. Whenever I have any doubts I think back to the question, “if money wasn’t an issue and you could do whatever you wanted, what would it be?” It’s really important to do what you love. I hate seeing people stuck at a job they’re miserable at or getting up for a day they know they’re going to hate. Why torture yourself? I once left a job where I was being treated poorly, I just up and left. It felt so great to stand up for myself, and I’m really happy with where I am today. Do what you love, and the rest will fall into place.
5. Any great healthy/balance tips for other young woman?
When in doubt, keep it lean clean & green! As often as possible, I try to eat natural, in season vegetables and fruits. I really feel a difference when I’m feeding my body the nutrients it needs to thrive. My biggest advice, though, is don’t beat yourself up. If you have an off day or even an off week, just get back on track. It’s not about failing, but how we bounce back that really counts. Far too often I see women putting themselves or others down. Girls can be really judgmental on themselves and others. I’ve gotten bullied before, and it’s really sad because it shows that these people are so unhappy with their own life that they feel the need to bring others down with them. Remember, nobody ever got ahead by putting someone else down, and if someone is trying to bring you down, they’re already beneath you.
6. What food items do you always keep in your house?
I’m a nut butter fanatic. At all times, without fail, I have at least eight different jars of peanut butter, sunflower seed butter, almond butter, etc. I’ll eat it with anything- on an apple, in a wrap, on a banana, on a celery stick, and in a stir-fry. I even make little energy bites or bars by combining honey and peanut butter on the stove till it’s thin, then add oats, any kind of dried fruit, slivered almonds, shredded coconut, and roll them into little bite sized balls or cut them into bars. They’re delicious- and I love knowing I can grab one and run out the door if I need to!
7. What is your favorite indulgence?
It’s all about the simple things! I love relaxing with a nice glass of red wine, a good movie, my kittens and my boyfriend. To tell you the truth, I’m kind of a crazy cat lady!
8. How do you make health a priority in your home?
As often as possible, I look up recipes and meal prep for the week. I try to look for recipes that include a lot of the same ingredients, or Crock Pot recipes that are simple and delicious. Crock Pots are great because they don’t require a lot of prep time or even ingredients, and you literally throw whatever you want in there, go about your day and a few hours later, you have a healthy, hot, home-cooked meal ready to eat! My boyfriend is also a really good sport about trying new things. I even got him to like brussels sprouts!
9. What is your FAVORITE thing about living in the Hamptons?
The seasons! Fall is so beautiful out here. I’m a summer girl, but I love when the crowds leave and we have our town and beaches back! I love how crisp and cool the air is and how vibrant the leaves are. I’m also very lucky to have grown up a few miles from the ocean. I don’t think I could ever not live near a body of water. I grew up surfing in Montauk and riding my bike to the ocean after work just to dig my toes into the sand. I love the water so much that I became a lifeguard for about 7 years. The ocean is so therapeutic. Salt water cures everything!
One Healthy Breakdown: Embrace life, explore your passions, treat yourself and others right, and dig your toes in the sand as much as possible. It’s workin’ for Kate!