From fashion to food, corporate to candids, photographer Len Kaltman has been a key contributor to West Chester + Liberty Lifestyle, shooting more than 100 stories and 35 covers. With an artistic eye trained to capture the essence of a story and a natural skill to click the shutter at just the right moment, Len creates masterful photographs. We turn our focus to this creative photographer, who comes out from behind the camera lens to dish on his career.
Len’s life-spanning career as a photographer was a twist of fate. As an accomplished musician growing up in Queens, he had plans for a different occupation. A school club and encouragement from a teacher to intern with a commercial photographer after school changed his mind.
“My start in photography was sort of by accident,” he shares. “I was in the New York city-wide orchestra and considered being a violinist. In my second year of high school, I joined the Camera Club. I didn’t know a thing about it, but I just loved it.”
His newfound love led to a Bachelor of Science degree from Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, one of the few schools offering a degree in photography at the time. From there, Len’s career launched to a top fashion photography studio in NYC, but per tradition, on a bottom rung.
“I started working as third assistant to the photographer. I was in the dark room, cleaning the studio, running errands. On fashion shoots, I was the guy on the fan,” he laughs.
“I got to observe and learn from the top photographers shooting for Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, but watching from the periphery,” he explains. “I eventually worked my way up to Studio Manager and started to travel the world…Paris, Rio, Cabo San Lucas.”
After three years of experience, Len opened his own fashion studio, shooting for Cosmopolitan, Women’s Wear Daily and JC Penney catalogs. He also added travel photography and record album covers to his growing portfolio. Len’s life took another big turn when he met someone special.
“I fell in love with this young medical student,” he says with a grin. “We literally met on the street. It was love at first sight for me, but let’s just say it took a lot longer for her.”
Although he loved living and working in NYC, Len followed his heart and accompanied his sweetheart, Dana, wherever she led. Dana’s career as an emergency room physician eventually landed the happy couple in Cincinnati. Now settled in the area for more than 30 years, they’ve raised three children here. Len put his career on hold and became a “Mr. Mom” for 15 years.
“The boys were very happy I could stay home and certainly, so was I.”
After a 15-year hiatus, he kick-started his career with a West Chester studio and built a successful corporate photography business centered on Len’s favorite subject: people.
“My interests are very diverse, and they always have been,” he reflects. “I transitioned from fashion to travel to corporate photography, moving from film to digital images. But, my favorite thing has always been photographing people.”
In 2017, Len began accepting assignments for West Chester + Liberty Lifestyle, capturing many memorable covers. From Fiona and sports figures to local leaders, his contributions have captured the playful and vibrant images that represent West Chester and Liberty Township.
“The Lifestyle shoots are all so different,” he muses. “Fiona was such a celebrity. She had so much personality. That was the most memorable.
“The food photography I like because I get to eat the props,” Len laughs. “Amongst my favorites was the ballerina cover—that was just so beautiful…The work I’ve done for Lifestyle is the best work I’ve done in the last 20 years.”
Len’s zeal shines through in his pictures.
“So much of my photography is telling stories—not complicated, very straightforward. I try to recognize beauty in all things,” he says. “You know, when you love what you do, it’s not like work. You can’t wait to get to the studio. You can’t wait for an interesting assignment,” Len adds. “I love what I do and I hope it shows in my photographs.”
With an artistic eye trained to pause on beauty and a natural skill to click the shutter at just the right moment, Len creates masterful photographs.