As a local blogger, Instagram influencer, teacher and photographer, Katherine Akerley has a lot on her plate. Between photo shoots and acting lessons, she runs marathons and pursues her passion for travel. Her parents, who grew up in Germany, passed along their “travel” bug to Akerley who admits her “life would not be nearly as adventurous” without her worldly background.
I was fortunate enough to connect with Akerley over her ever-changing interests and challenges, like how she finally overcame her struggle with anxiety, where she gets her artistic inspiration from and how she feels about her mischievous bulldog, Rosie. Read her full story here and get a sense of the adventurous spirit behind the popular Boston blog, Chaos and Wrinkles.
“My life is a busy jigsaw puzzle of
making sure everything fits. It is
fast paced and extremely rewarding.”
1. Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Lowell, MA. It is a small city north of Boston and I am in love with it. If you have ever been to Life Alive Cafe in Cambridge you should know it opened in Lowell years ago. Nothing like an Elvis Alive to brighten up my day. One of my favorite photoshoot locations in Massachusetts is Boarding House Park in Lowell.
2. What is the one thing that you are most passionate about and why?
Right now I am pretty passionate about exercise. I naturally have an obsessive personality. In the past that has helped me learn how to play guitar, travel all over the world, train a puppy and most recently spend a ton of my free time sweating!
3. Where has that passion taken you? What about it has made you who you are?
Many half marathons later I am currently training for my first marathon. I will run in October. I also completed SoulCyle’s “turn it up 20,” where I did twenty rides in thirty days. I thought it would be easy, but during that month I traveled to Florida and California, celebrated my 26th birthday and ran two separate half marathons.
It was hard to find time to get to every ride and took careful planning. But I finished and I have kept up riding at the same pace. I feel a lot healthier and happier than before I started my fitness lifestyle change.
4. Talk a little bit about a challenge you have overcome in the past. What did you learn from it?
Anxiety. That is a big word for me and I have dealt with it since I was a child. What really helped center me and curb my fears was taking up exercise. I was never a particularly fit person. I did horseback riding as a kid, but I loved the animals more than the exercise. In the past year I have ran many half marathons, smaller races and am training for my first marathon.
I do a ton of SoulCycle and just generally make healthier choices, like walking to work. My anxiety has dissipated and I rarely have flair ups now. If you had told me as a kid that years down the line I would be spending my days teaching acting classes and directing photoshoots for a living I would have been surprised. One would argue those are extroverted careers. I put myself out there everyday as an artist and I genuinely wouldn’t have it any other way.
5. What has been your greatest accomplishment so far?
This is a hard question. Part of me wants to talk about college, having my photography published in magazines and online, or even my career in education. But those are ever evolving and I am not sure I am quite there yet. Honestly, my biggest accomplishment in life comes in the form of a little pup with four legs and a big heart.
I have had my dog Rosie for over four years and she is amazing. Raising a puppy is hard, raising a bulldog puppy is harder. She is stubborn, messy and always wants to play. Learning to put someone else first in life has brought me a new sense of joy and happiness. I am happy when she is happy.
6. Is there a well known figure in Boston or New England that has inspired you?
John Bay, the former Education Director at Wheelock Family Theatre, took me under his wing when I was a college student and showed me the world of education. In his eyes there were no problems in the classroom, only solutions and it was our job as teachers to find those solutions. Working under him, I learned to think on my feet, take risks and fill my classroom with joy.
He would tell me to make a plan, but not to be scared to deviate from that plan. I know I would not be as confident an educator as I am without John to guide me. His passion for multiple intelligences and theatre education helped me to see that education is so much bigger than I ever realized. In my classroom I teach kids how to act on stage, but there is also a moment where this stage world will coincide with the real outside world and that is where I smile and think of John and all he taught me.
7. How did you get into your line of work? Where did that interest stem from?
I have two careers that run parallel in my life. Both are immensely important to me. I am a photographer and I work in education. I teach a lot of acting classes during the week and spend my weekends on photoshoots. They really aren’t so different. I appreciate all forms of art. Working on a photoshoot I find myself dipping into my theatre tricks a lot. Some people are uncomfortable in front of the camera. Just like I would help a young child to take a risk and search for that authenticity on stage…I am doing the same thing for my more apprehensive clients.
“When I posted about my anxiety on my blog a ton
of people were shocked that I suffered for so long
with it. It is easy to hide pain with a smile, I suppose.
Life is a lot easier when I am giving out positivity
to those around me.”
8. Tell us what your two jobs look like.
My weeks essentially look the same, I am just filling in my schedule with different clients and teaching different classes. Lately I have been doing a ton of newborn photography. Photographing babies is unique. The shoots themselves go longer than a typical lifestyle session.
I have to be on the child’s schedule and release a lot of my control. However, it is during these shoots that I can capture an extremely raw or real image. The love is evident in these pictures, whether it is a photo of a parent and newborn or a six month old smiling at the camera. I know for a lot of people these moments fly by. I am very appreciative to be included and to save some of those little memories in a photo.
9. What inspires your work?
As an artist, everything inspires my work. For example, last summer I was either photographing or attending a wedding every weekend. I was doing a lot of engagement and wedding photography and it was busy. One day I was thinking about how much I enjoy shooting natural photographs, with couples who are in love and how a special joyous vibe radiates off of the photos.
I was looking at all different kinds of people who are in love when editing my work. I looked down at my dorky bulldog and thought hey we should do that! So I staged an engagement shoot with Rosie. I cherish that photoshoot a lot because it is so special to me. The clicks on that blog post are some of my highest performing, I have to assume other people are laughing at my crazy dog as well.
10. If there was one thing you’d like to share with people, what would it be?
Do what makes you happy and be open to change! I graduated college thinking I was going to be a full-time teacher and I could have been completely happy with that choice. But I also liked photography and I missed using my more artistic side that first year post grad. I found a way to mesh the two and at 26 I am thrilled with the way life is going.