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Conversations with Sarah Katumu

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sarah Katumu.

Hi Sarah, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
After spending all of my twenties working for a college ministry, I resigned and took a sabbatical. I used this time to explore new creative outlets and figure out how my unique gifts could be used for good. I asked for a camera for my 30th birthday, and around the same time, I felt called to write a memoir about the impact of suffering on my faith. By happy accident, I also ended up working for Wildflowers, a floral studio here in St. Louis. Over the past five years, I’ve grown in all of these crafts. It’s been a season of learning how to create and thrive in the midst of the challenges and pains of life.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
This has been a road travelled at a meandering pace. To be honest, I hate the hustle of owning a small business. I’d love to just skip to the part where I connect with the clients I’m best equipped to serve. I also have the physical obstacle of chronic pain and fatigue; I must be intentional with how I use my time, my energy, and my physical strength.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I own a photography business called Kavilali Photography.  The word “kavilali” is from the Kamba language, my husband’s mother tongue, and it means “something precious and valuable in a small package.”  My husband Karl is from Kenya, and when his 100+ year old grandfather back in Kenya first saw a picture of me, he gave me the name Kavilali.

Kavilali is a word that embodies my vision for my business.  For one thing, I love photographing tiny humans.  How much more preciousness and value can you fit into something so small?!  Through Kavilali, I offer newborn and maternity photo sessions and photograph births.  I also volunteer my photography services in NICUs and Labor & Delivery departments in St. Louis hospitals, which I have done through On Angels’ Wings and Captures for Clark.  Kavilali also embraces the short story mediums available to photographer/writers today on social media.  I have my feelings about the negative impact of screen time and social media on individuals and our culture, but I would love to see technology used for more uplifting purposes that send people into the world for redeeming purposes.

What would you say have been one of the most important lessons you’ve learned?
My job is to help other people tell their stories. Through the years I have grown in appreciation for what that means, especially as I find myself alongside people in the best and worst moments of their lives. Every story I tell is filtered through my own perspective. I believe it’s okay to share with the world how someone else’s experiences impact me, but I want to respect the sacredness of what they’re sharing so that when I display my work they do not feel their story has been exploited or re-written.

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