Blaine woman wins RAWard for photography

Kaitlin O’Brien “shares stories with a simple snap.” Her photographic storytelling recently earned the Blaine woman the RAW 2013 Photographer of the Year award. Images courtesy of Kaitlin O’Brien

Kaitlin O’Brien “shares stories with a simple snap.” Her photographic storytelling recently earned the Blaine woman the RAW 2013 Photographer of the Year award.
Images courtesy of Kaitlin O’Brien

Kait’s her name and photography is her game. Kaitlin O’Brien lives in Blaine and is a natural born artist. In fact, her raw talent is so intriguing and unusual she was recently named RAW 2013 Photographer of the Year.

 Chosen from more than 15,000 artists from across the country, O’Brien will receive her prize during an awards celebration in Los Angeles, Calif., this weekend (Jan. 19).

“There were so many talented artists that I am just beyond blessed that somehow out of all those people I was picked. Winning this award is just simply … amazing,” said O’Brien. The talented shutterbug first put her eye to the view finder as a 14-year-old sophomore at Spring Lake Park High School. Her passion for pictures was threatened when her teacher “was not a fan, causing (me) to almost fail the class,” she said. But rather than succumb to discouragement, O’Brien found strength and renewed passion in the process. Soon, she blossomed when at 19, she took hold of her first DSLR camera and began to do photo shoots with friends – “sharing stories with a simple snap,” as she puts it. Those simple snaps became storytelling tools that evolved into inspirational artwork. And O’Brien will tell you the inspiration for her award-winning work is pain. “As strange as it may sound, I use life events to create my work … and my teenage years were rough, very rocky. In ways I feel photography and ways of being able to create saved my life,” O’Brien said. Surviving that pain produced beauty beyond description and fuels O’Brien’s passions to continue to create artistic images. In addition to winning the 2013 RAWards Photographer of the Year, O’Brien has been named local city winner for RAW photographer of the year (Minneapolis), had images included in the Raw Artist – Discovery Showcase, and she’s been published in Capture Minnesota Books I and II and in Vogue Italia. So what’s next for O’Brien? She plans to continue creating images and telling stories, of course. And perhaps she hopes to submit her work for book covers or try other galleries. “I just know there are so many new goals to challenge myself with this year that nothing is going to stop me from achieving them. That’s for sure,” she said. To see more samples of O’Brien’s photography, take a look at her website at What are RAWards? RAWards is the biggest indie arts awards show in the world, according to its website. The independent arts organization holds the show each year and out of more than 15,000 artists from across the country, nine winners emerge and are honored at the annual RAWards show in Hollywood. Winners are selected after a 10-week competition in which community members and industry professionals vote for their favorite in each category: visual art, fashion, accessories, music, film, photography, performing art, hair, and makeup. “Winning nationals and becoming Photographer of the Year for RAW is just crazy. I do not think it will hit me that it happened till I get to L.A and I’m standing before everyone making an acceptance speech,” said O’Brien. Winners receive career-building prize packages that include such things as “placement in boutiques or galleries, products, services, consultations with the judges, and the exposure of a lifetime,” as described online at For O’Brien, winning the prize helps her to share her passions, express her feelings, and tell her stories. “Everyone in this world is important. I strive to make this world a better place, knowing that one day I can make a difference just by expressing my feelings through my art,” she said. Sue Austreng is at [email protected]

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