Coni Flores Creates Imagery for Outdoor Gear Company Kahtoola

May 29, 2020
Photographer Spotlight

Photographers sometimes enjoy a lot of creative freedom and flexibility when they do work for smaller clients. That’s what happened after New Zealand-based photographer Coni Flores reached out to outdoor gear company Kahtoola. The New Zealander connected with the business, enlisted her husband to model for her shots, and got to work creating imagery for Kahtoola’s most recent workbook.

With small/medium companies that don't have much of a budget, you can actually do something great with not much. It’s challenging and fun — you have to be creative and do your best with what you've got and keep in mind other possible obstacles.

Coni Flores Kahtoola catalog double page spread

For this occasion, Kahtoola needed photos of their products being used in a real outdoor scenario where you would need to wear the products (crampons, spikes, and gaiters).

Coni Flores Kahtoola shot of the workbook itself

They asked for the photos to be vertical (portrait) and the models to wear proper mountaineering gear/clothes and to make sure they wear and use the products correctly.

Though Coni helmed the shot from start to finish, she couldn’t avoid trekking up a mountain range at ungodly hours to get the necessary images.

We had to drive four hours to get to the Tongariro National Park where we did the shooting. The real-time in the mountains was from 3:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. We had to start hiking at 3:00 a.m. to catch the sunrise and the golden light near the top (where the snow was) and the total time of hiking was of six hours.

Because of the dangers inherent to hiking, Coni asked her husband to be in the shots. Both are experienced hikers and knowledgeable photographers, so getting the proper imagery wasn’t an issue. In fact, Coni recalled an instance where she saw a Nike advertisement that didn’t look quite right and wanted to avoid a similar issue here.

For this work, my husband was the model as he is an experienced hiker and I couldn't find a model that knew about mountaineering and hiking as we do. Many times, I ask my outdoor friends to be the models depending on the kind of adventure I have to take photos of because it could be very risky to anyone without the experience.

Coni Flores Kahtoola this is her in the shot

When I was younger, I used to be an athlete, and I remember seeing a Nike advertising photo in a magazine. It was supposed to be an "athlete" "running" but the technique was totally wrong. She looked like a ballerina in running clothes and shoes. The same thing happens with the outdoor gear. You need to know how to use the gear, what is realistic, what's not, and where it is safe, so you’re not promoting anything dangerous or wrong to the people.

Kahtoola was quite pleased with the work, even asking Coni to shoot more for the company.  

They were really happy with it. They used one of my photos as a cover of the catalogue, and I have done more work for them for their spring/summer gear.


Model: Jose Cortes

Check out more of Coni's work at

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