In a digital world oversaturated with Snapchat filters, Photoshop, and 'doing it for the 'gram,' Kate Dash's unedited 35mm photographs are refreshingly real. Their intense colors and raw yet thoughtful quality stand out in a sea of minimalist sameness and pull you in immediately. After being internet friends for a long-ass time, I finally met up with her a couple of months ago when I first moved back to the Bay. Over quesadillas at La Victoria we chopped it up for hours; after almost a decade in New York, being able to fully be myself with her reminded me just how much I missed girls from San Jose. In person, Kate's energy is magnetic - and just like her photographs, she keeps it hella authentic. She's totally unapologetic about airing her dirty laundry online and doesn't shy away from conflict - calling out shit-talking, shadiness, and even her own man - because she says she can't be anything but honest about what's really going on in her life.
Kate was born in Cebu and immigrated to the South Bay (San Jose, then Milpitas) at the age of four. She's been spearheading projects centering women and mothers, noticeably WOC, since she was a teenager - like a blog she started back in the days called "Female Gone Rogue" and her brand Been Milky, which confronts stereotypes and expectations about young moms. She's always loved taking pictures but would shy away from being called a photographer; it's only been in the past few years that she's owned the title and embraced herself as an artist. We talked about her partner Julian and their two daughters, Isis and Akari (who sound dope and creative af), how she's always wanted to be a mother and how her pregnancies were planned - flipping the script on what society assumes about young mothers.
Check out our Q&A with Kate and some of her work below!
HP: What's your name and pronouns?
How did you get started in photography?
I’ve always had a thing for taking photos because my Papa would always be that dude with a camera and/or camcorder at family parties and trips.
Do you always shoot in film? What do you like about it compared to digital?
No, not always, but I prefer it. The photos come out how I envisioned them without having to edit. Plus, when I use a digital camera, it gives me way too many options. I’d rather get the shot the first or second time than the tenth time.
Tell me about 'Been Milky' and how all your MILF-y stuff got started lol
Well… if you understand how babies are made… LOL. The story behind “been milky” is this: When you become milky once, you’re milky forever *Cardi B voice*. So your grandma, she BEEN MILKY. Lol
How does motherhood influence your art, and vice versa?
Now that I have my very own family, it’s all or nothing. I’m that mom who’s doing what she loves, taking responsibility for my actions, learning, growing, and feeding my children with makes me happy. Aside from photography, part of my artistry is being able to communicate with what I go through as an art mom and emotional human being. Being a parent really pushes me to just go for it. Seeing how fast my girls are growing inspires to grow just as fast in all realms in life.
You've written that maternity shoots are your favorite. What is it about this subject matter that inspires you the most?
Being pregnant is such a special moment that won’t last forever until it’s captured and I’m honored to be able to do that.