When Kathryn Riley, 22, stopped playing sports during her junior year at Boston College, she had no idea what to do with her free time. But that changed when her brother asked her to take some pictures of his hockey game, and Riley grabbed her mom’s camera to take a few shots. That casual photo assignment turned into a photography minor, an upcoming photojournalism internship with the Boston Red Sox, her popular Instagram account @k_h_r, and a plethora of action-filled photographs from the streets of Boston.
Q. What are some of your favorite things to shoot?
A. My favorite thing is definitely street photography. It’s all about going and trying to get the best shot; you have to be aware of what is happening or you could miss a moment. For me it’s a rush. I’m a really shy person and getting relatively close to a stranger and taking their picture and moving on, for me, is very nerve-wracking. It’s turned into a challenge for me to see how close I can get to someone, especially in places like the T and other public spaces.
Q. Do you approach people and ask if you can take their picture?
A. I don’t. I shoot some of my street photography with a 35mm film point-and-shoot camera, and it’s relatively small so oftentimes they don’t even realize I’m taking a picture. If they do, they think I’m shooting something behind them, not necessarily them. I maybe only had one or two confrontations in the few years I’ve been doing it.
Q. How were those confrontations?
A. They were very awkward. I had a T driver once threaten to call the cops on me. He thought I was invading people’s privacy. He said, “Some guy could be having an affair and you’re taking a picture of it,” and I was like: What? On the T? He was just really animated about it. But it was nothing too serious.
Q. Do you look for something in particular when you’re taking a photo?
A. I like scenes where it’s busier, so in Boston that can be kind of challenging because we aren’t the biggest city. I like shooting at big events and festivals, like the Patriots Super Bowl parade, anywhere there’s a lot going on. I’m taking pictures at these places not so much for the event itself, but rather for the people around it to see how they are reacting and interacting to the event.
Q. Any memorable experiences of taking photos?
A. The St. Anthony’s Feast in the North End is still one of my favorite things to shoot just because in a way it’s like you’re time traveling because of all the open vendors and everyone is out in the streets, and they are carrying the little statues of St. Anthony’s with all the dollar bills on it.
Q. Do you have a message or a theme you’re trying to portray in your photography or your Instagram?
A. Yes and no; my Instagram is really all over the place. I share client stuff I’ve done, my personal street photography work, or just landscapes shots, it all just depends on my mood. What I like about street photography, especially in Boston, is that it shows that there is more to Boston than a lot of the pictures you see now on Instagram of really pretty Back Bay skyline shots, or the brownstones in Beacon Hill, which are all very pleasing, but I think what makes Boston Boston is the people itself. I like capturing that.