Get To Know Kate T. Parker, The Photographer Behind The Empowering “Strong Is The New Pretty” Series


Kate T. Parker is a renowned photographer based in Atlanta, GA. She has spent years capturing her young daughters and their friends in empowering, energetic, and heartwarming photographs featuring the girls playing sports, getting down and dirty, and just being generally awesome. The message of the "Strong is the New Pretty" series is to empower young girls and to teach them to “be strong, be yourself, be honest and celebrate who you are.” Kate's photos have been featured on CNN, The Today Show, Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls at the Party, Zooey Deschanel’s HelloGiggles, Buzzfeed, The Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, Vanity Fair, Glamour, The Daily Mail, Redbook, The New Zealand Herald, The Huffington Post, Self Magazine, and more!

We sat down with Kate after her photo shoot with the cast of Pretty. Strong.

What are some day to day tips that you can give women for gaining or projecting confidence in the way they look?

Embrace what you have. Take a good, hard look at yourself on your best and worst days and decide to be okay with where you are, how you look, who you are. Five pounds heavier than you’d like? Exhausted? More wrinkles than you remembered? You know what? No one notices but you. Having confidence in yourself? Walking around with your head high and a smile on your face?  That’s what people respond to. That’s what your kids see and learn. That’s the person you want to be, not the Photoshopped/nipped/tucked/sucked/Botoxed model on the pages of a magazine. She’s not real. You are.

What things are holding women back from being total badasses?

Worrying about what other people will say/think about what you do. F*ck it and do what you want, be who you are, do the things you dream about, be the person people are talking about... because what you’re doing is so awesome.

Name 5 women who are killing it right now, and why?

1. Mindy Kaling. She’s funny as hell, a boss, and has maintained her sense of self and confidence in the face of Hollywood’s ridiculous beauty standards.

2. Ronda Rousey. Love her! Talk about a bada*s woman, she’s the epitome. I want a “Don’t Be a D.N.B.” shirt, like, yesterday.

3. Jen Welter. Amazing. First female NFL coach, second female to play professional men’s football… super inspiring.

4. Natalie Maines [from the Dixie Chicks]. While I haven’t heard anything from her in a while and I miss it, I absolutely love her. How she stood her ground on what she believed, regardless of how you felt about it, she believed in what she said and gave up so much to honor her truth.

5. Amy Poehler. I love her so much. She’s all about female empowerment, finding your voice, and being true to yourself.  She encourages it with young girls with her site Smart Girls at the Party.

What are 3 bad habits that women have when they’re being photographed?

1. Don’t hide. Trying to cover something up (i.e., I don’t like my smile, so I won’t smile or I don’t like this side of my face, so I will only face the camera this way) is read by the camera. Don’t worry so much about angles and details, try to be natural (I know, it is hard), but the most beautiful images are when you are comfortable, unposed and real.

2. Duckface. Enough said.

3. In images with more than one person, look at them, don’t look at the camera, engage with whomever is next to you. Laugh, smile, try to be unaware of the lens.

What are the most important lessons you’ve learned by photographing women?

Everyone has something special that is beautiful and unique. It is my job as the photographer to find it, highlight it, and showcase it in my work.

How did the idea of your "Strong is the New Pretty" collection originate and what was your inspiration for it? How did it evolve? What have you learned doing it?

“Strong is the New Pretty” started as a personal project for me. As the mother of two young girls, I wanted to showcase my girls as they are… loud, messy, silly, fearless, independent, confident and fierce. Through the images, I wanted to combat the messages the media sends to women and girls: that beauty is a hairstyle, a certain size or an outfit.  My goal is to show that true beauty is in being yourself 100%. Confident is beautiful. Messy is pretty. Loud is great. Silly is awesome. Strong is the new pretty. The response to my images has been amazing. From Bangalore to Boston, Atlanta to Australia, the images have been embraced. The work has been shared via social media extensively and it has been featured on many media outlets. "Strong is the New Pretty” will also be a book that will expand the series from just my immediate circle to young women around the country. A diverse group of strong, beautiful and inspiring girls have been shot and will continue to be photographed for the book. My goal is to have someone in the book that everyone can relate to in some way. Someone that they can understand their struggle, someone they see themselves in, someone that they can be inspired by.    

How do the Pretty. Strong. girls inspire you?

The women of Pretty. Strong. impressed me before I met them with their athleticism, fearlessness and power. However once I met them in person, I was completely floored. They were all amazing women just bursting with life and energy pursuing their dreams in the face of many obstacles. That’s inspiring to me on many levels. We had kids (my own two girls were there) at our shoot and the level of engagement and kindness extended to the girls on the shoot was above and beyond. My girls have not stopped talking about “Yashi and Deena and Jamie and Alli and remember when they did flips and how Heather taught me to throw a football…” I wasn’t expecting this out of the shoot or from the girls at all, it was so wonderful to see and record with my camera.

Check out Kate's amazing photos:

Sneak peek Pretty. Strong. below:

Pretty. Strong. premieres Tuesday October 6 at 10/9c!

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