From Photographer to UX Designer: My Journey of Creativity and Problem-Solving

From Photographer to UX Designer: My Journey of Creativity and Problem-Solving

Hey there! My name is Katy Hulsey, and I'm excited to share my story. As a photographer turned UX designer, I've been fortunate to find a way to combine my love for creativity and problem-solving into a fulfilling career. But how did I get here? Let's dive in!

Where it Started:

Mr. Romero, my elementary school art teacher, played a pivotal role in my creative journey. He saw something in me and nurtured my love for all things creative, encouraging me to explore and experiment with various mediums. As someone who is neurodivergent, I have an endless need to try new things and seek out novel experiences. This innate drive has helped fuel my creativity and push me to explore new realms of artistic expression. Whether it's oil pastels, clay, acrylic paints, charcoal, or any other medium, if it's in my hands, I am eager to create with it. Creativity has been my constant companion, providing a sense of stability and a means of self-expression throughout my life. Yet, I also understand that creativity is an ever-changing force, constantly evolving and adapting to new circumstances. This understanding has allowed me to embrace change and approach creative challenges with an open mind and a willingness to explore new possibilities.

Experience as a Photographer:

I've been passionate about photography ever since I got my hands on my first camera. There's something magical about capturing a moment in time and being able to share it with others. Over the years, I've honed my skills and developed my own unique style, taking on various projects from weddings to headshots. As a photographer, I have developed a deep understanding of the emotive quality of light and how it can help create a story within a single frame. Light has the ability to evoke emotions and set the tone for a scene, whether it's the warm glow of the setting sun or the harsh contrast of midday sunlight. By using different lighting techniques and understanding how light interacts with different subjects, I'm able to tell a story and convey a mood through my photography. Whether capturing the joy of a couple's first kiss or the melancholy of a desolate landscape, light is an essential tool in creating a compelling and emotive visual narrative. Photography was my first love: inherently unique. It sent me down a path that acquainted me with novel emotions, for better or worse, while generating curiosity, fascination, and enthusiasm. However, as much as I loved photography, I found myself lost when Covid hit. Covid sucker-punched me! No weddings, no family photos, and definitely no newborn photos, and that meant no income.

Transition to UX/UI Design:

Honestly, I got here by accident. My friend Jeremy approached me with a request to help him with some UX design work, but there was a problem: I had no prior experience in the field. However, I didn't want to turn down the opportunity to help a friend (or the money I so desperately needed), so I decided to take on the challenge. As I began working on the project, I realized that my previous experiences and knowledge from the design courses I took in college were proving to be incredibly useful. I was able to apply my skills in layout, typography, and color theory to create a visually pleasing and user-friendly design. While the project was undoubtedly a learning experience, I found it incredibly rewarding to see how my previous design knowledge could be applied to a new field. And the amount of empathy I had to use! This was right up my alley. Overall, this project sparked a newfound interest in UX design, and I'm excited to continue learning and growing in this area. I was so thrilled to find a way to take my creativity to the next level. At first glance, photography and UX design may seem like entirely different fields, but I quickly realized they share many similarities. Both require a keen eye for detail, the ability to see things from different perspectives, a knack for problem-solving, and a tremendous amount of empathy. In UX design, I found a way to apply my artistic skills to a new medium, designing digital experiences that are not only visually appealing but also intuitive and user-friendly.

Similarities and Differences:

One of the main similarities between photography and UX design is the importance of storytelling. In both fields, you're telling a story through your work, whether it's through a series of photos or a digital interface. However, there are also crucial differences. With photography, you're capturing a moment in time, whereas with UX design, you're creating an experience that evolves over time. Another major difference is the collaborative aspect of UX design. While photography can be a solitary pursuit, UX design requires working closely with clients, developers, and others to bring a project to life. My favorite similarity is empathy! Empathy is a critical component of both UX design and photography. In UX design, empathy is used to understand and anticipate the needs of users, allowing designers to create products and experiences that are intuitive, user-friendly, and engaging.
Similarly, in photography, empathy is used to connect with subjects and capture their emotions and experiences in a way that resonates with the viewer. Both fields require a deep understanding of human emotions, behavior, and psychology in order to create compelling and impactful experiences. Whether it's designing a website that meets the needs of users or capturing a moment in time that tells a story, empathy is the foundation upon which both UX design and photography are built.

Using Artistic Abilities in UX Design:

One of the things I love most about UX design is the opportunity to use my artistic abilities in a new way. Whether designing a visually stunning interface or creating a unique icon set, there's always room for creativity in UX design. But it's not just about making things look pretty. Good design is about solving problems, and I've found that my background in photography has given me a unique perspective on how to do that. Photography is all about capturing a moment and telling a story through visual elements such as composition, lighting, and color. These same elements can be applied to UX design to create engaging and user-friendly experiences. For example, my knowledge of lighting has been helpful in developing a sense of depth and hierarchy in a user interface. At the same time, my understanding of color theory can be applied to create a visual hierarchy and evoke certain emotions in users. In addition, my experience in capturing the essence of a subject can help me to empathize with users and understand their needs and motivations, allowing me to design products that truly resonate with clients. Utilizing my photography background, I can make innovative UX design decisions that result in distinctive and captivating experiences that stand out in a saturated digital environment.

Continuing Education in UX:

The field of UX design is constantly evolving, and I make it a priority to stay up to date with the latest trends and best practices. Whether it's attending webinars, reading industry blogs, or taking online courses, there's always something new to learn. I'm also a big believer in the power of mentorship, and I've been fortunate to have some amazing mentors throughout my career who have helped me grow both personally and professionally. Shout-out to Jeremy for getting me to where I am today and taking the time to truly invest in me. If you don't have a boss that sees you as an investment and makes every effort to help you improve yourself, you might want to dust off your resume.

Reflecting on Progress and Looking Ahead:

Reflecting on my journey from photographer to UX designer, I am immensely proud of my progress. Combining my passion for creativity and problem-solving has been a gratifying experience, and I am eager to continue down this path. Moreover, I am excited to take my skills to the next level by further expanding my knowledge in UX design. Recently, I have even started learning to write code to deepen my understanding and capabilities in the field.
I look forward to having a more seamless exchange between myself and developers. In the coming year, I envision myself tackling more complex projects and honing my skills to become a better UX designer. I am confident that this continued growth will bring new and exciting opportunities and experiences that I cannot wait to share through this blog.

Thank you for accompanying me on this journey. As I continue to grow and develop as an individual, my creative expression takes on new forms and adapts to new experiences. This realization has allowed me to embrace change and the unknown, understanding that my creativity will always be a part of who I am, no matter the form it takes. Throughout my life, whether it has been through photography or UX design, creativity has been a constant source of purpose and satisfaction. I hope that my story has inspired you and that you have gained insight into the values that we embrace at Savantly: innovation, resilience in the face of change, empathy toward others, and using technology to enhance people's lives. I am excited to continue sharing my experiences with you as I learn to code and explore new creative outlets.