Julie Legg takes photos of home interiors, turns them into personal books

05/31/2014 8:09 PM

06/03/2014 10:17 AM

A quick glance around Julie Legg’s home offers clues to her profession. Portraits of loved ones, close-ups of flowers and images of memorable sunsets rest on shelves and punctuate walls.

Her eclectic home in south Kansas City seems a backdrop for her work, with walls painted pale shades of mossy green and pale blue and yellow.

She and her husband, Larry, share the three-bedroom home with a tuxedo cat and Tulip, a Maltese.

Tulip follows Legg as she walks from a front room, through a kitchen sporting a gallery wall, to a comfortable living area. A huge saltwater aquarium tank filled with soft corals and brilliant wonders like copperband butterflyfish and mandarinfish catches the eye.

“That’s Larry’s pride and joy,” she says.

Legg’s most recent venture, Julie Legg Photography, focuses on creating home memory books for people (jleggphotography.com). One of the most recent memory books she created was for the Symphony Designers’ Showhouse, a fundraiser for the Kansas City Symphony.

“As a donation, I made a memory book, and they were so pleased,” says Legg, 53. “These rooms were the pinnacle of great design.”

Your expertise is in interior home photography. What inspired you to create these home memory books?

Not long ago, I found a picture of my old home in New Orleans. My dad, who died when I was in my 20s, loved to work with wood, and he made my desk and the backboard of my bed. I found myself wishing I had photos of that home and those things. I don’t know where those pieces are, and that feels like a loss.

What do you strive to create in your own home?

I want a peaceful house with peaceful colors. Of course, those colors can’t clash with my photographs. My home is comfortable and eclectic. To be honest, I put more money into my photography equipment than I do my home.

Where did you first get the yen to be a photographer?

I was 14 when I won a photo contest I entered at a mall in New Orleans. It was a picture of an open door at the back of my church, and I won first place. I bought a nice long lens for $100. It would have been a lot more these days. I got my degree in photojournalism from KU.

Who was your inspiration?

My husband, who works for a large graphic print company. He taught me so much about making photos look good. I’ve been working in this field since 1986.

I see biblical passages quoted on many of the nature photos in your house. How do you weave these into your work?

Elizabeth Barrett Browning said, “Earth’s crammed with heaven.” That is one of my favorite sayings. One time at sunrise I had an experience where the light was hitting a field of wheat, and the light was coming in and out of the clouds, and … well … I don’t see how science can define beauty.

Any tips for people who want to display great photography?

Digital photo books are great. You can also find plate shelves or shelving at places like Pottery Barn, which will allow you to lean your pictures against the wall, and switch out photos easily. That’s important to me, of course.

How do you choose the frame?

If it’s a 19th century home filled with French decor, you might want something ornate. But for the most part, you want to keep the frame simple, because you want people to admire the photo. You don’t want them saying, “Wow, look at that frame.” And I look for coupons and sales. There’s no reason to pay full price for a frame.

And do you keep your own photo books close by?

I did a video card for my husband for our 12th anniversary. It meant a lot. I love that these photo books are time capsules. I want to help people keep treasured memories close.

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