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It has been a while since I posted so I wanted to take a walk (pun intended) down memory lane. I wrote this back in September 2021 after my first and only trip to Gamble Sands in Brewster, WA. An experience that changed me in so many ways, but in retrospect, truly rewired my brain in terms of how I experience the world through golf.


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I couldn’t remember the last time I had an experience that was truly pure. I mean that that kind of experience that brings you back into your body, and you actually experience a moment in the present - yeah, that kind. I hadn’t had one of those in a long, long time. Well, that is until just recently.


It wasn’t one of those "treat yourself moments" that you reward yourself with after a hard day's work, and it also wasn’t some self-improvement revelation that came into focus after years of relentless study and growth. This moment found me, and it serendipitously found me when I wasn’t looking for anything or even trying to do anything in particular at all. It found me on a golf course.


The game of golf is unquestionably seductive for a person like me; you see, I find solace in the focus of a task, and golf is a breeding ground for “tasks”. So naturally, whenever I feel overwhelmed or that I’m lacking control of my life, I gravitate towards golf. (Every seasoned golfer reading this is face-palming themselves right about now.) Now why in the hell, would I, a self-proclaimed sane person, reach towards golf of all things unyielding for a sense of calmness and control? (As I now know: Golf. Fights. Back. You. Dumbass.) You’re having a shit day and want to go escape your problems on a golf course? What in the world makes you think you’re not also going to have a shit day full of a whole new set of problems on the golf course? Here is how it typically goes: I was having a shit day, all I wanted was to do was play hooky from real life on the course for one afternoon. Then, Behold! Golf in all its callous glory, holds up that dirty mirror to my face and says: “Oh hey! I see what you're trying to do here, so guess what? Here’s one more thing you can’t seem to get right”. Seriously? Was it so much to ask that I get like, a couple hours of respite from my hot garbage life? (*Golf scoffs*) – apparently, it was. When taking on one menial golf task to conquer for the day in the quest for victory over the daily grind – golf has a savage way of chuckling at your meager plea for sanity and order. I live in Washington State, and in my experience thus far, golf is comically not the “tree in a forest (ironically) full of them”. Golf can be cold and indifferent in your hour of need. Alas, I keep coming back.


So why am I still at it? What does golf give back to me? To be honest, I haven't been golfing that long, so I really don’t have an answer for that... yet. But what I will say, is that I keep TRYING. Trying what for? I couldn’t say exactly, but damnit I’m going to do this with intention. Could it be love? Love makes us do crazy shit so that tracks I guess.


So here's how this "trying" seems to play out: Each time I arrive at the course I set an intention for what I wish to get out of my experience that day. And after each round, or grind at the range. Now is about when you might ask: "So, how's that working out for ya?" Well, to be frank, it's kind of a mixed bag. I'm trying to get out what I put in, but unbeknownst to me, golf seems to be playing by its own set of rules, which also happens to be the most confusing game of call and response, or rather bait and switch.


Alright, Sidebar - I had a yoga instructor in college who was in summation, fantastic. She taught with the disposition of a moody housecat, and I’ll never forget her “realness” in such a seemingly strict and devoted pedagogy as yoga. She showed us [her students] many things, but one day she led us in a practice that in effect stood out to me among the others; it was unlike the practice of so many other sports, arts, and hobbies I had taken up in the past. In this lesson, she taught us how to approach each session, not by setting a deliberate intention, but rather, by letting your practice meet you wherever you’re at that day. To truly meditate in the present state of wherever (or whatever) you were in that day; and that is enough – and it is plenty.


This lesson completely re-framed the idea of ‘practice’ for me: it wasn’t about trying to morph into perfection, it was about trying not to gain a sense of control or fight your “realness” for that day. It was about being just what you are (happy, sad, tired, pissed-off…) and letting the practice flow through exactly that. Say,. you’re happy-go-lucky that day? Then, have a joyful practice. Pissed-off about something at work? Go on and have that angry grind. Hungover and just want this practice to be over as soon as possible? Flow through your poses with the laziness of a post-big mac food coma. And it clicked: we're not always going to be in optimal condition for a highly efficient experience, regardless of your mental training or physical fitness. So as an amateur, although intention can be a powerful and mindful exercise, it can also be confining, and at times even a let-down. This happens when we aren’t rewarded after expelling bounds of valiant effort and aren’t emotionally grounded enough to understand why. So in the meantime, with so much life (and golf) yet to be played, how do abandon our need for efficiency and abandon our intentions? How can we just simply exist in the moment and why is it so damn difficult? (This is all relevant I promise.) Alright, onward -


I haven’t played all of the fanciest courses yet, and although I enjoy the rare experience of dabbling in the sexy destinations that golf has to offer, I find myself more focused on getting my money’s worth at those courses, rather than actually enjoying the round - as an amateur golfer that lives a modest lifestyle, you can imagine how that typically pans out. So, when I found out that my work schedule had placed me out in BFE Washington one week; I grabbed my golf buddy and dragged her in the car with me to visit a couple of job sites and squeeze in 1 round and a 1-night stay at Gamble Sands. I figure: when am I going to be out there again? I might as well sneak in a round at a course I’d been wanting to visit. Truth be told I had actually tried to plan several golf trips to this exact spot over this year, but each attempt had fallen through for one reason or another. So call it fate, or don’t call it anything, but this place had been calling out to me, just when I had all but given up on my golf trip dreams, I settled for a one night pit stop, just to say I had played it.


I’ll spare the pleasantries of our stimulating check in process at the resort, which is not to say the rooms and views aren't *chef's kiss* delicious, but you've been patient enough with my context building, and I'd rather get to the point here and roll right into the good stuff -


I’m on the first tee box. It was early September and the weather was great, albeit windy. My friend and I got paired up with a couple of older gentlemen who were nice enough. We put some music on in the cart, grabbed some drinks, and set sail. It honestly didn’t hit me at first, but the details of this experience would soon enough be deafening my senses in an otherwise silent place. Everything about this day was so un-intentional, and yet it was perfectly designed to give me exactly what I had been missing for so long. The warm sun on my skin, the chirp of a single cricket, and the spectacular views. Good Lord, those views; Reigning over a sprawling high desert course overlooking acres of orchards grazing the banks of the Columbia River. The sky and surrounding hillsides are painted in oranges, pinks, and gold. Even the hush of wind blowing away the pervasive thoughts of everyday life relentlessly trying their hardest to pull me away from this luscious dreamscape. They tried and failed. There was literally nothing that could take me away from this moment. It was like the rest of the world had fallen away, and in the middle of this ubiquitous view, I found myself again. I found myself in this moment, or rather, it found me, right there smack dab in the middle of a golf course. And it was like the universe singled me out - to show me that one random whimsy decision, brought one of the most ‘in-body’ experiences I have ever had. A true moment of singularity when I could sense everything happening to me all at once. The sights, the sounds, the company, the smell; each of these feelings all wrapped me up in one big mesmerizing hug that I might try to stay in forever. It was the greatest gift. And to think, I never set an intentions on this day; in fact, I did just the opposite. I did not spend hours grinding at the range to earn myself a treat at this fancy course. I certainly did not try to have this experience. The universe just decided that it was my time; it was time to come back to earth and be reminded of the beauty of “realness” that one random day at the golf course can bring. I was just a real person that day, passing through on my way to work, checking something off my list – just doing things I might have been doing on any other ordinary day; and then all at once, it became extraordinary.


It wasn’t until I got home that I learned that this kind of experience not uncommon place to the seasoned golfer, and although everyone’s story is different, those who have had the pleasure of this special kind of round say that it defines why they continue to play this ridiculous sport. While unpacking my car and grabbing a much-needed bite to eat after several hours in the car, my husband asked me about my round. As I am standing at our kitchen counter shoving food in my face, and trying to describe my indescribable experience, I can see his leading questions are more subjective than usual... the joy of my response is obvious in the smile slowly spreading across his face. We finished our conversation and I headed off to bed, writing off his excitement as genuine sympathetic joy, which honestly the most that anyone can hope for while regaling big-fish stories of their round to anyone who wasn't there. But, I would later learn that he had sensed my revelation hadn't clicked just yet, that what I had experienced was more than just a round of golf. He later regaled my storytelling at a gathering of friends a few days later and in an excited tone he shares: “Oh, she had ‘The Walk’”. So, it has a name, as simple as it is important. I will forever be changed by ‘The Walk’, and although one could wish this feeling for every round, I don’t think I’ll spend my efforts trying to chase this elusive dream. It is not something I was looking for to begin with. My efforts are better spent writing down this memory and trying to preserve some little piece of heaven that was given to me that day. And in the meantime, I will try, to try less.

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I got my first camera in 2016, and during that time I was working for a contractor. They were a small business, 3rd generation family run, and they did the most fascinating work; all high industrial, specialized construction in everything from wastewater treatment to hydroelectric facilities. I spent about a decade at this company, getting to see the inner workings of the places that almost no one gets to see; 100-year-old powerhouses, the underside Snoqualmie Falls, and watching the hair rise up on my arms in the 500kV Switchyard at Grand Coulee Dam. Just like at most small companies I wore a lot of hats; everything from project management to safety management, but what I liked most about this job was being on site. But something happened when I started bringing my camera onto the job site. My daily grind began to give way and my eyes began to open to a new passion, which was using my camera to tell the story of these projects.

(Inner workings of 100+year-old electrical equipment at Shoshone Falls Powerhouse, Twin Falls, ID) Copyright Katie Morton Photography 2023


The more I shot, the more I began seeing a pattern in the format and application of construction photography; I started to see what I believed was a missed opportunity for that company and for other companies as well. I noticed it the most when I was tasked with building the website for that contractor, as well as when reviewing project write-ups for our proposals. I noticed it when drafting our portfolio and choosing which current projects to showcase, and how to feature our company media news, DEI, and press releases. Pretty soon I started to notice it with the prime contractors and owners we were working for as well (typically when I went onto their websites to steal all their graphic design and layout ideas - Hey, there is no fairer form of flattery than imitation, and I was working with the web design experience I had at the time, which was basically none).


So the pattern went like this: I would hop onto a contractor website, and right off the bat I would see beautiful final finished photos or artist renderings of these finished projects (hopefully licensed from the photographer that was hired by the architect), and then a concise and generally boring blurb derived from the project specs describing said photo. Now, I have a keen passion for construction as well as photography, but oddly enough I didn’t feel engaged by this presentation. I found myself wanting more – something almost editorial. Then it dawned on me; as much as I enjoy architectural photography (and it absolutely has its place in construction), I didn’t know that was truly encapsulating what we all know any hard-working contractor is actually selling.


So, what is every hard-working contractor selling? Their brand of course - The unique qualities that make their company distinctive among all others. But aside from a flashy logo and neat project time lapse on their front page - these websites were missing something, a big ‘something’.


This ‘something’ was all the most interesting and compelling photos and details about their work! It was descriptions of the challenges faced, the feasibilities addressed, the who, the how, and the why these projects were so impactful. These ‘somethings’ were the: ‘this is why you should pick us to do the job’ photos. It was photos of their team members and tradesmen – working alongside one another to get the job done. It was the ingenuity, knowledge, creativity, capability, and experience of the old and new guard collectively. It was their stories and the lasting impact of the work they are doing. They were missing their history as it unfolded in real-time as they made their mark on this world - figuratively and literally; they were missing their legacy. These ‘somethings’ were nowhere to be found.

(an employee for MICHELS Foundations stands by as the earth is transformed to make way for a new highrise in downtown Seattle) Copyright Katie Morton Photography 2023


So as I am realizing this, I think to myself: "If only I could find a way to wrap up all of this into one powerhouse product and help these companies capture all of this for the world to see.” The answer was staring me in the face, but in order to be successful, I knew I needed to give it everything I had. So, I did what any crazy person would do in a rough economy: I quit my job and formed my own company as a construction photographer. Fast-forward a year and a half later, I am a certified Washington State vendor, just as well I am registered both Federally and in Washington State as a WBE (women's business enterprise), SBE (Small Business Enterprise), SCS (Small Contractor Supplier for King County), and I am awaiting confirmation of my DBE (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise). In addition, I have amassed a broad range of fantastic clients in a variety of mediums and just secured my first government contract as a sole proprietor.


So now we get to the fun part!


As you may have already noticed I am a passionate person, but I believe that passion is only effective and productive when it is applied toward shared values with my clients, especially if we are going to try and capture the legacy of a company. In my experience, some of the most effective values I look for are authenticity, efficiency, and resourcefulness from the top down – more specifically: giving the right people the right tools and trusting them to get the job done.

When I have these values in place with my clients – we are truly able to put their photos to work for their brand, by capturing the unique qualities that make the company stand out. Most importantly, we are better able to define their legacy and the lasting impact their company is having on their surrounding communities.


Here is the best part, which is where we tie the lasting value of effective construction photography from myself as the photographer to the contractor, to the owner, and finally to the end user:


The values being implemented here aren’t just important to me and my clients, they are important to the entities supplying their contracts and the Municipal, State, and Federal funding for said contracts as well. I know full well based on my experience working in government contracts for a contractor as well as a sole proprietor, that more than ever we are seeing government contracts released with increased requirements for meeting goals in DEI (Diversity, Equality, & Inclusion) utilization, as well as media & community outreach plans. Understanding creative and effective ways to meet these goals is where I come in – I want to be a key resource to help contractors of all sizes meet these requirements, and, get a huge band for their buck.


(We drive by these places every single day, taking for granted what it takes to keep the lights on. Massive transformers at a downtown substation hum under typical Seattle skies) Copyright Katie Morton Photography 2023


Now just imagine that you have access to an experienced construction photographer with not only a comprehensive knowledge of the industry, but a passion for the work that you do specifically – and this photographer gets to apply their knowledge and passion to their work, keeping a mindful approach to some of your strongest core values: like safety and compliance, DEI(diversity, equity & inclusion), and a strong and capable public-facing image. From the owner to the end user - through photography, we can deliver them a compounding legacy that they can be proud of; a story of their project that is worthy of a thousand words. And in doing so, we can secure a more poignant recapitulation of the merit of the work you have done for them.


I am that photographer - and I want to be the one to capture the significance of the work that you’re doing through exceptional construction storytelling.


I have the privilege of working with some exceptional contractors and government entities right now, but I am always looking for my next biggest challenge and I could be your new secret weapon in the field. Knowing where to start is everything, so let’s keep it simple: we start by putting myself in touch with a variety of different roles and responsibilities within your company which could be DEI, communications, community investment, project management, ownership, or digital assets. From here, we forge a relationship and understanding of your company’s media priorities and begin to implement some ideas to get these priorities met. I can’t wait to tell the story of your company through photography.


Walls are formed. Copyright Katie Morton Photography 2023

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This week I had the pleasure of taking photos for a new client, and I think I may have shot some of my best work to date. Let me start by saying that it took a year to cultivate a relationship with this client before I was able to finally get out onto the job site, and it was worth every second. I have a vision for my business, and that vision is very simplistic, but most importantly, I believe it is impactful. I believe there is a very large piece of the puzzle missing when it comes to photography in construction. There is an image that has been circulating in my mind like crazy this week – see below:



Walk into almost any major contractor's office and you might see this photo hanging in their hallways. The Lunch Atop A Skyscraper wall mural features the classic photograph taken by Charles C. Ebbets during the construction of the Rockefeller Center in 1932. You can learn more about the photographer who took this photo here (https://ebbetsphoto-graphics.com/page/about-the-artist/#/page/about-the-artist/) which I greatly encourage, as this man has become truly a hero of mine.


Now what makes this photo so impactful? Well, just look at it! There are a lot of answers to that question but I am going to speak on why this photo is so impactful to me specifically right now. Every single day we pass buildings, bridges, skyscrapers, wastewater treatment facilities, pump stations, dams, freeways, you name it – and every day we (myself included) take for granted one very simple concept that glows at my core fueling my passion for construction photography; In the age of technology, it is no accident that we take this one concept for granted, but it is important to remember that although our technological advances continue to provide society with endless ways to conceptualize a vision, at the end of the day it is people that physically making that vision come to life; plain and simple. I built a bar in my house during COVID as a way to occupy my mind and satiate my affinity for fine spirits. This tiny little DIY’ers dream was a great way to safely dabble in the joys of putting my hands to work, but it holds no candle to what I see people in the field doing every single day to build this world for us, literally from the ground up.

I like to play a little gratitude game with myself when I enter a new building or structure, and it goes like this: I like to look down at my own well-manicured hands, and imagine what would it take for those hands to make that structure come to life? What knowledge and skills would I need to possess let alone brute strength to set the walls around me? The list of needs would collapse into a supernova of infinite visionaries, project managers, engineers, equipment operators, roofers, iron workers, carpenters, electricians, landscape architects – endless compounded levels of knowledge, experience, blood, sweat, tears, and the like. I can’t even put IKEA furniture together as a team with my husband; how thousands of people from every walk of expertise come together to make a construction project realized is truly miraculous when you think about it. It is miracles and brute strength working in tandem that bring these places to life – the places that make our everyday life one seamless succession of functions from turning the lights on at your home to opening the roof at T-Mobile Park. I am in continuous awe of [as the article I linked earlier so adequately put it] “ordinary men caught up in extraordinary circumstances”. It is this kind of photo that tells the story of how we got to the 31st floor of a building, and it’s this kind of photo that forges an emotional connection with not only the client but the end user. There is an entire section of the auto industry dedicated to customer satisfaction and confidence AFTER a customer has already purchased a vehicle – they assign a dollar value to this sector. Construction projects are no different – lasting impressions matter – how we feel about a project holds value.


I have always been a passionate person, and harnessing that passion is what I believe will make me successful, and in turn, provide my clients with a product that exceeds their expectations. I have seen this value realized when my client and I share the same vision and the same goals. Circling back to my opening sentiment, I had the opportunity to shoot under such circumstances this week when my client took faith in me, and set me free on the job - and in turn, I think I may have shot the best work of my career so far.


This client and I had several meetings before I ever set foot on the job. We discussed expectations and goals, but most importantly we discussed vision. Their project is a new high school in an underserved area of the Pacific Northwest. They understood the impact of this project and it was absolutely clear that their marketing department understood (and took very seriously) the impact of their assignment, which was to capture how this particular project was going to change the lives of the end user; the citizens of the surrounding area. They wanted to tell the story of this project, from the ground up. They wanted to capture the life of this building from inception to handing over the keys – a building “baby book”. A building this important needs to have a life of its own; when something has a story – it holds history. So often in the Pacific Northwest, we are torn between upholding the traditions of our well-lived in structures and the idyllic function of gentrification. This school can’t be just a building – it needs to have a life of its own, a story, something that can be handed off to the citizens of this area so they can care for it, be proud of it, and be proud of the people that worked so hard to build it for them. The photos I took this week reminded me of the photos that Charles Clyde Ebbets took during his contract at Rockefeller [please know that in no way am I comparing myself to CCE, come on now]; he knew the assignment, he took it very seriously, and the images he captured tell a story that has had an endless impact on American culture and the way we view and value the construction industry. All because my client and I shared the same vision, I was given the space and time to fully immerse myself on this job site and let the camera truly become an extension of the structure that was coming to life around it.


When you work in the industry, there is no shortage of internal and external circulation construction publications. There is always a good smattering of equipment and tool advertisements, a safety article or two, and maybe one or two featured projects. As cool as these articles are to read, they only seem to be shared within the social vacuum of contractors. As much as I am in the construction industry, I am also a tax-paying citizen and end user. Every time I receive a voters packet I always see the usual ballot items for increased levies for countless public works projects. Having insight into what these kinds of projects take to get the job done, I am always curious what my fellow civilians outside the industry might think. No one likes paying taxes, but we all love nice things in our community. In fact, nothing brings a community together more than the shared frustration of a run-down community facility or roadway that never seems to get repaired.


The point being is this; these dollars go out to bid and contractors pick up the work and then the thing gets built – but is anyone telling the story? When a roadway in my area closes for repair and disrupts my daily life it’s a grind for me as it is for my neighbors. I have to wonder if having the slightest insight into the story would allow me a better chance for understanding, and grace, and perhaps some relief from the daily frustrations I so ironically devote to the teams of people working their asses off to make this world function better for me. I pass these jobs, and see the contractor names and logos plastered on their job shacks and heavy equipment and get curious about what they must be doing that is so important they have to close the freeway on a busy Saturday when 2 Seattle sports teams and a concert are playing downtown. So I do what any normal person would do – I google them. And when I go to their websites, I see absolutely nothing about this job. I see nothing providing me insight, or satiating my curiosities for the work they are doing and where my tax dollars are being spent. I started to feel like a kid who was being left out of a very important conversation my parents were having in the other room about my future, and frustratingly never asked me to participate. What if the story read differently – what if I googled so-and-so contractor and in their “Featured - Projects” section was a living diary of the faces of the people bringing this project to life, with sweat on their brow and mud on their boots? Would that spark something in me? Would gaining some understanding and visually engaging with the photos of the people building this project change the way I felt about it? Knowledge is power so I like to think it would – just as the Lunch Atop The Skyscraper photo sparks a deeper respect and understanding for the industry – so should this.



By the way, here is Charles C. Ebbets taking the famous Lunch Atop The Skyscraper photo. What a badass.

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Well hey there friendship

It's me Katie, I'm so glad you're here. I'm going to take a wild guess that you clicked "blog" on my website menu in an effort to get to know me a little better, I love that for us. So without further adieu, welcome to my blog! Have fun, be safe, and don't forget to subscribe so you don't miss out on any fun. Cheers, Katie

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