Kirsten is a documentary photographer based in Denver, Colorado however her work brings her all over the world, from New Zealand to Dubai, Brazil to Canada, Italy to Hawaii. Although she has been shooting for over fifteen years, it was teaching on Creative Live that really brought her approach to documentary family photography to the forefront as a desirable alternative to the traditional family portrait. She has been mentoring photographers internationally not only within family photography, but a coach guiding them to find their own unique voice by embracing their personal experiences and encouraging them develop a personal point of view.  

Nothing is better than real life and because of that pictures of real life moments make the viewer connect to the subjects and to the photograph. The catch is that making great moment pictures is hard, really really hard. Documentary family photography is not just about “capturing everyday life” but it’s about making deliberate, well thought out pictures that will elicit an emotional response from the viewer all while not controlling or influencing the environment in any way. Additionally, the more personally connected the photographer is to their own point of view as well as their subjects the stronger the end result will be. Kirsten will share how she applies her degree in child psychology and background in elementary education to help her photograph families around the world with empathy, reliability and a big sense of humor. Kirsten's talks are known to make you laugh one minute and tear up the next, inspiring her listeners to go confront their fears, identify their insecurities and push forward. 


Ryan first came to our attention as a guest judge for the last round of Documentary Family Awards. Anyone who read his eloquent feedback for photographers following the awards would know that he possesses a wealth of storytelling wisdom. Many of us (including fellow speakers Niki Boon and Kirsten Lewis) attended his online photo editing workshop recently and this has had a significant impact on the way we shoot, edit and sequence our work.

Ryan is an incredible teacher with a gift for translating his knowledge and real world photojournalistic experience into relevant education for anyone practicing the art of storytelling. He will be joining us for the entire length of the conference and will talk about the process of editing, culling and sequencing images in order to create intentional, coherent and more thoughtful narratives. We will get to watch him go through this process with his own images and the work of one fortunate conference attendee. 


In her 5 years or so of photography, Niki has definitely experienced many ups and downs, and has worked hard to learn from both. In her highly personal talk, she will share her journey and thoughts about her work, and how it has been her four wild, free range children who have taught her more about photography than any formal education could.

"My dream is for viewers to be moved by my images in some way. I don’t necessarily desire that everyone like my images, or even understand them; I just want them to feel a little, to see the honesty, the reality, the rawness, the truth in those that I photograph, the life they live, and the wonder and depth in their every day—the beauty in the ordinary." Niki Boon. 


Zalmy lives in sunny Southern California with his wife and 6 kids whom they home educate (because they are masochists, according to Zalmy). 

When he's not photographing weddings, he's photographing his kids and his life, as he has nightmares about forgetting it. There’s a saying that “the years slip into pages, if anything at all” and he thinks much the same about photography. 

Zalmy will be teaching an epic everything-he-knows class composition and composition alone! Some things he will cover:

1. What exactly is composition, why is it important, what’s its purpose and what are its limits. 

2. How to balance your images so they don’t fall off the page (only half joking)

3. The beauty and grace of cropping. 

4. Filling the frame. How to keep the viewers attention without being too in-your-face.

5. Layering: How to tell complex and chaotic stories in cohesive frames.

6. Can’t wait!


Maggie will be joining us to reflect on her experience capturing the story of Katie Stubblefield, the youngest face transplant patient in the U.S. Katie’s face was severely damaged as a result of a suicide attempt with a rifle in 2015, and Maggie has been documenting her story in a respectful, informative and intimate way for the past 2.5 years. Please take a look at the entire beautiful piece for National Geographic here.



With a background in marketing & communications, a wild sense of humor, a love of helping and encouraging others, Ash is passionate about continuing to transform perspectives surrounding documentary photography and what it means to run a successful business. She is coming to Storytellers to talk about her 'Rock, Paper, Scissors' method and how to use it in order to balance life, earn some actual money and stay true to your work and your sanity. We will get to listen to her talk about marketing your documentary photography business, how to change your mindset on pricing and how to get confident paying yourself what you are worth. This is going to be invaluable in terms of developing the bones of your business structure and converting your hard work into income.