that operation. She and I will coordinate
on esthetics and priorities, but she knows
what we need. For example, we know that
bathing suit season or Mother’s Day is
coming up. She may know we need photos
of pregnant women or nursing women
at work, and that we’re lacking those. So
maybe a month ahead, the department will
produce those [shoots].
PDN: Is the stock shot by freelancers
PDN: For freelancers, are you mostly
relying on a stable of contributors, or
looking for new talent?
TK: I crave to be always working with new
people. I think it’s interesting and it keeps
everyone’s mind fresh, but there are people
I feel close to and continue to mentor.
We had a shoot last year with Michelle
Groskopf, who is known more for
documentary photography. I told her we
have a fashion story. She said, “I’m not a
fashion photographer.” I said, “I know, but
I really believe this is the project for you.” I
was so proud of it.
The concept was fantasy handbags. We
shot it in Miami with women in their 70s,
80s and I think one woman was in her 90s.
It was perfect for Michelle, because it’s a
generation she loves and is passionate about.
PDN: How do you decide which
photographer to pair with which
TK: I think for me it’s more of a gut reaction.
We shot a model in London, and Bella Howard
is there. I’ve always loved her work, so I said:
Let’s get her and see how it goes. I think her
photos captured the model’s vibrancy. That
happened without me art directing, just asking
[Howard] to do what she does.
I hire mostly female photographers. It’s
something I message to my team, that it’s
our job to mentor female photographers.
There are so many cool women
photographers out there who I think are
PDN: Who are some other women you’ve
TK: Kate Owen. I love her work and
her personality. Sam Cannon is equally
brilliant. She’s an artist as well as a
photographer, and I think that’s great
to help conceptualize more difficult
shoots. Last year I found Mindy Byrd, a
collage fashion photographer. She has
an interesting spirit and always brings a
unique point of view.
PDN: How do you look for new
TK: Instagram. It’s a feast. I am working on
a longer-term project and there was a very
specific type of photographer I was looking
for. I did it through hashtags, then reached
out via direct message to say, “I love your
work and would like to meet you.”
I do a lot of portfolio reviews. I try to stay
engaged with my old school, Parsons the
New School of Design. I found people there
I’m keeping in mind. And through word of
mouth. I get sent a lot of photographers by
other photo editors. We also have internal
talent—photo editors who shoot for us. That
was once a taboo, but I think it keeps the
creative mind fresh.
PDN: I feel Refinery29 does a lot of stories
that reflect the diversity of our society. Is
that reflected in the photographers you
work with or the subjects you shoot?
TK: Diversity is important to me, because I
can’t pretend to know everything and hiring
people from different backgrounds brings
different voices and perspectives, and it
should be celebrated. I would encourage
and challenge everybody to do that. I’m
happy to talk to fellow creatives and photo
editors about how we do it. It’s a creative
muscle you need to start working on.
PDN: How has Refinery29 evolved since
you’ve been there?
TK: We’re continuing to evolve impactful,
mission-driven projects. Are you familiar
with the “ 67 Percent project”? Sixty-seven
percent of women in America identify as
plus-sized, but they are represented in only
2 percent of media. We’re aiming to correct
that. We want to see our readers reflected
in our work, in our fashion, food, workout
and stock photography.
PDN: What do you wish photographers
understood better about Refinery29?
TK: We pick up a great amount of photo
essays. I did portfolio reviews at the Eddie
Adams Workshop this year, and met a lot of
young photographers we’d already
published. We use a lot of photojournalism,
and our readers really engage with it.
LEFT: Though she’s not a fashion photographer,
Michelle Groskopf recently photographed women in
their 70s, 80s and 90s with fantasy handbags. “It
was perfect for Michelle, because it’s a generation
she loves and is passionate about,” says Kaufmann.