Multi-hyphenate rockstars, this one’s for you! Kim Maroon is a photographer, director, and designer who specializes in capturing the vibrancy of motorcycle culture.
After falling in love with the frenetic energy of photographing punk and metal bands, Kim discovered the thrill of motorcycling and launched an entrepreneurial creative path “rooted in adrenaline, rebellious spirit, community, and the human experience” (as she eloquently puts it).
On this episode, you’ll hear about how Kim transitioned from a life of science to one of art and design; how she balances her many creative roles (including commercial work for major brands like Infiniti Motor Company, GoPro, and iHeartMedia); and what really revs her creative engine.
- [1:29] How Kim launched her creative entrepreneurial journey
- [4:05] The bold moves that brought Kim into the world of motorcycles — as a photographer, then as a rider
- [11:48] How photography became a creative outlet and an avenue for connection
- [12:50] How the many aspects of Kim’s multifaceted creative career fit together
- [21:50] Kim’s one tip to rock it
Links from this episode:
- Kim Maroon: https://www.kimberlymaroon.com/
- Kim Maroon Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kmaroonfoto/
- Babes Ride Out: https://www.babesrideout.com/
KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT:Hey rockstars Welcome to the She Rocked It Podcast. I’m your host Karen Gross, and if you haven’t already, please make sure you subscribe to the podcast or if you’re on YouTube, drop us a comment. We love hearing from you. And if you want to be on the inside of everything that we’re doing here at She Rocked It. I would love to have you as a member of our rockstar network where you can get monthly mentorship, you can be part of our studio audiences know about our networking events be the first to know but everything cool we have going on here at she rocked it so you can learn more about that on our website. Without further ado, I want to dive into today’s conversation I have been waiting for this conversation for it feels like a year. I don’t know. This woman. I am so excited to hear more about her career. She is rocking it as a multidisciplinary creative in the world of motorsports and motorcycles. I mean, bad ass so, I’m here with Kim Maroon. I’m not going to take too much time telling you about Kim because I want Kim to tell us about herself. But I just know we’re gonna get so much cool insight into her badass career. Kim Maroon Welcome to the She Rocked It Podcast, finally!
KIM MAROON: Wow, that intro Karen that that was awesome. Well, I’m a self taught photographer. I’m based out of Boston, photographer, director and I specialize in automotive motorsports, and lifestyle and portraiture. I’m actually originally from New Jersey, where I started off doing concert photography. So I was a Co-House photographer at Starland Ballroom
KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: Wow!
KIM MAROON: I was following the music community, like working in music, publicity, this was like early 2000s, mid 2000s. And I was working for metal and hardcore bands at the time. And then I moved into Apple retail. So I’ve had this kind of wild ride of different roles and careers. But what brought me to Boston, in 2011, was grad school. So I applied for Mass Art, they have this program with Interactive Design. It’s basically just like a merging of Art and Design and Technology. It’s called the Dynamic Media Institute. So it’s really like structured but also pretty loose in what you could choose to study — like you choose your, your interest and your topic, I chose photography and tech. And then at the end, you produce this like thesis documents, so you’d actually have to write a book, which was amazing. At the end of this three years, but I was working full time while I was doing this program.
KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: Wow
KIM MAROON: And just like moved, everything was all at once. It seems like I do everything in that style. Like, let’s move let’s start grad school, a new job, like different Apple Store. And then also photography followed me to Boston. But when I left school, I started a completely new career in experience design, which is what I intended, I was like, “I want to start a different, like I want to be in this creative space, but I really don’t know how I fit in.” So that kind of brought me to experience design. So that gives me my sort of hybrid or multi hyphenate as you described it, role. So I was freelancing a lot in Boston when I was in school, but really not a lot because I was completely exhausted between work and school. But in 2016, that’s when I officially registered myself as a business and kind of when all of the automotive work started. Like completely new, a new field new community, I just kind of was curious about it, and kept following it. So that that’s where it started in 2016.
KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: All right, tell us a little more about that. Because I know that you are, one of the things you’re known for is your amazing photography and your work in the motorsports, automotive lifestyle, you know, motorcycles, that whole scene. So how did that become like a muse for you and part of your trajectory, that whole arena?
KIM MAROON: Well, I guess, like a lot of things were happening at the same time. So like, I quit a job in 2016. That was like a design job that was pretty toxic, and I was miserable. But then I was like, “wow, I have this blank slate, what am I going to do?” And there was this event happening in New Jersey, the Race of Gentlemen. It happens every year. And I was like, “well, now I have a chance to do it. I have the time”. And my idea was to kind of take pictures from a different perspective, or do it a different way, because I’d seen it done by many photographers. It’s it looks so awesome.
KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: The Race of Gentlemen, it’s called?
KIM MAROON: The Race of Gentleman in Wildwood New Jersey. So it’s this beach race of like, like riding motorcycles, hot rods. Yeah, just vintage bikes and cars. And everybody just comes down. And it’s this huge blast on the beach. So what I did was I had this idea of like, well, I want to shoot with GoPros. Can I ask GoPro to borrow cameras? And my friend David was like, “why not? Like, what’s wrong with that?” I was like, I don’t think they will just lend me these expensive cameras. And so I went through LinkedIn and I found somebody, and he was in motorsports. So he sent me a box of cameras. He was like, “I’m all about this. I’m gonna meet you”
KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: Oh!
KIM MAROON: And it was like, how did this come? You know, how did this even come to be? I don’t even I don’t even know. And it just kind of exploded from there. And I was just
KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: Real quick, I have to say that is a total She Rocked It moment of raising your voice doesn’t hurt to ask the question, just ask the damn question. And lo and behold, you got your GoPros, right? Like, that’s but it took that like, you know, that courageous moment of saying, I’m gonna like, find this person on LinkedIn. And then it worked out like so kudos to you for pursuing that raising your voice. I love that.
KIM MAROON: I had no idea if it was going to happen. I was like, well, what could go wrong? I’m just asking if I can. And if not, then I you know, I use my own, I figure out a different way to do it.
KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: Yeah.
KIM MAROON: But yeah, it was, it was amazing to just ask, and then this person jumped on board, he flew out and showed me how to mount the cameras to the bikes and the cars.
KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: Wow
KIM MAROON: I actually use, like footage from friends in Boston, from their motorcycles like I was mounting cameras here to try to say like, “Hey, this is what I tested out, like, Do you know how to do this?” And then that’s, that’s kind of what gave me the UMPH in that email be like, if I didn’t have anything I would be like, you know, what do I do? But, um, but he came out showed me how to mount all the cameras. We were on the beach, I was in this marshmallow mechanic suit, like, managing cameras, like they make you dress like period-correct. So they have you like, where the jumpsuits and look like you kind of fit in with this time period.
KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: I just have to ask you, like, when you hear a title, like the Race of Gentleman, and as a woman, like being like, I’m gonna just go into this kind of, quote, unquote, masculine space historically, right? Like, what? What was it that like, drew you to that and also gave you the courage to, as a woman decide I want to bring my own perspective to this event?
KIM MAROON: Um, I think it’s more about just like, I’m just very social butterfly, like very outgoing. And I’ll just walk up to anybody and start a conversation. So the the fact that it was like, these dudes on the beach, I was like, I don’t know if they’re gonna be, you know, like curmudgeon, old, gr, like grouchy men, like I don’t, I don’t know. But like, I just kind of brought my own, like bubbly personality to it. And that’s what gave me that courage. And I noticed that like, once you show that you’re interested in you’re curious about something. Everyone welcomes you into their space. It was like, and that kind of gave me the courage to keep going because I was like, if people kind of shut me out, then I wouldn’t have kept going.
KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: And you yourself, ride motorcycles. Is that right?
KIM MAROON: Yes. So I actually got into riding motorcycles because I was photographing motorcycles. So, in 20, I started this all in 2016. I decided like, “well, what if I got my license, then I could be closer to all this action, and get to ride with all these people”. I only saw it from that perspective, I was like, “Oh, I’m just gonna get a bike. And then I’ll just join them”. And it didn’t occur to me that like, this is really dangerous. Like, I don’t know how to ride anything manual. I’ve never driven a stick shift in a car. And then I went on this weekend course, in Boston, and they teach you how to ride from scratch. And then you get your license at the end, you take the test, I had it. And then the next year, I got a bike, in 2018. And it just completely, like, blew the doors off of everything. I was like, “Oh, this is what this is really like.” And I had no idea until I started riding myself.
KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: Wow, that’s how did it how did it blow the doors off of things? Was it like a window into a whole new universe? Sort of? I mean, it’s, I want to know, what is it like being a woman who rides a motorcycle? What does that, yeah,
KIM MAROON: It makes you feel like a superhero. If that makes any sense. Like you have this machine and like going fast, the wind in your face. It gives you, it gave me so much power to just do like, feel like I could do anything, once I kind of overcame this thing. And especially if you talk to women that ride out to Babes Ride Out, which is this motorcycle camp out on the Catskills. When you come back, you’re like you feel on top of the worlds from doing that. Because at the end of the day, like what at the end of that weekend, it’s like a 700 or 800 mile round trip ride. And you do it in like four days or three days. And it’s amazing. It’s just an amazing feeling. And then I think what I did it when I’d done rides on my own, that far, it’s just a huge charge for me. So like, I didn’t know that I would personally feel like, I don’t know, personally courageous, not so much like a career courageous from from this thing.
KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: That is so interesting. Tell me a little bit about I want to talk about your career because you’ve obviously followed your passions, you have a few different prongs of your career. What gave you the courage to really do this amazing creative life? Did you when you were younger, were you like, “I’m going to be an artist a creative and kind of make my way,” or was it something you had to kind of get that confidence? but it because it also sounded like you know, earlier on you were shooting bands and doing photography, so you’ve always, always kind of done this and but like, was that always even since you were young? Like “I’m just gonna, you know, follow the artistic path?” Yeah.
KIM MAROON: Um, I feel like well, I studied I didn’t even study art when I was, you know, in college, I studied Science. And I think I used like, I used photography and creative as a way to escape. So like, I was like, “this is really stressful” and it started become, like, you know, sort of a depressing space to be in, or just like the doldrum of you know, college work. So it was like, “I want to learn how to use a camera, I want to do something with my hands and be creative.” And then the more I took pictures and saw the feedback from that, the, the sort of that gave me the courage to keep going, and I was like, “Oh, I just want to get better at this.” And the more I practice it, that’s gonna give me that confidence to keep going for it. You know, and then those moments of like joy and connecting with people, I feel like that was the other piece to it. It’s that I just love being around people. I love hearing stories. And this, the camera was this tool to do that. It was like a gateway to all of these things. And it’s funny, I tell people, and I’m like, I used to be slightly introverted, until I started taking pictures. And I was like, “Okay, now I have to actually, you know, talk to people and, you know, sparked up a conversation,” but then it became effortless. And then the camera was just a way to, to be like that document of experience of, here I am in this space. And I bring this with me, and I’m making these connections with people.
KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: That’s really cool. And like starting, you know, kind of in the music scene, and then going into kind of the motorcycle motorsports scene. So even being in the music scene, I imagine you had to kind of thrust yourself into that mix of like being at the shows, like you said, if you were like in Jersey, in New York, like was that something that kind of got your adrenaline going at that time?
KIM MAROON: Yeah, it was that like organized chaos, like everything was like, turbulent and chaotic at, I gravitated towards like hardcore and punk shows, basement shows where there’s like hurling bodies and like people crowd surfing. So and I love that, like, the places now where everything has a press pit, I’m kind of like, “Oh,” I just want to get like, I don’t want to say I want to get hit in the head with a boot. But like, I just want it to be a little bit more like rough than than it is now. It’s it’s definitely more controlled now. But yeah,
KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: A little sterilized.
KIM MAROON: Yeah, that sense of like, chaotic turbulence, like it’ll low like drop ceiling. And, you know, people would knock ceiling tiles out or like, stuff like that. Or just, I would go to places like Asbury Lanes for punk night. And then everybody would be there every week. So it was this, this idea of the the community aspect, and a lot of people outside of motorcycles talk about subculture, the word subculture, and they’re like, “oh, yeah, that exists in music, too”. And I think that’s what bridged that gap between shooting concerts and bands and the music scene to moving to motorcycles. And I was like, “wow, they kind of make the same sound” like I got that same jolt that I get from, you know, a speaker at a show, like standing right next to it, that I do with a motorcycle, the vibration or something is very similar between the two.
KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT:
Absolutely, never thought of that. But you’re so right. You feel it, your whole body shakes with both.
KIM MAROON: Your whole body. Yeah!
KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: That’s right. The Speaker it’s like a motorcycle engine. Oh, my gosh, I love that. On the on the flip side of all, that you’ve also done agency work. I know you’ve worked with some major, you know, corporate clients, tell us a little bit about some of the big brands you’ve worked with? And like, how does that? How does that align with the opposite of like, this is chaos, you know, and the more I would imagine, slightly buttoned up kind of world.
KIM MAROON: Um, well, I feel like the, the commercial clients that I’ve gotten the chance to work with, like Infiniti Motors, when they approached me for that work, the first thing out of the creative directors mouth was like, “you’ve seen a lot of chaotic things.” And I was like, “and you’re good with dealing with chaos”. So the I was like, okay, is this shoot? Can it be like this? And, you know, like, how do I produce something that is at the expectation of the client, but it doesn’t show that chaos. So, I mean, they, having that reputation of like going into an environment where there’s a lot of unknowns and ambiguity, with these bigger clients, is, I feel like it’s starting to become the norm for me,
KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: Interesting, like a calling card for you.
KIM MAROON: Yeah. But then I’m like, I don’t really want to have like the complete chaos type of shoot, like I would like it to be controlled. And that’s where I think like, I’m working on a test shoot now with a production group, where it’s going to be like, all you have to focus on is taking photos, you don’t have to manage, you know, a million other things like you were used to doing before because all of this work that you see on my site, I’m just like this one, one man band, lone wolf doing that work. And I’m trying to move towards more like supported work with production and a producer and an art director. And that, yeah, that would, not to lose what my calling card is. But to kind of take a step back and say, “Okay, now I get to focus on more of the creative aspect of this, and not so much of the like, I have to plan a motorcycle trip. And then I have to find places to take photos.” And that, like you’re doing a million things when you’re trying to absorb some of those responsibilities yourself. And then sometimes the work either suffers or gets watered down. Because you’re, you’re pulled in all those directions,
KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: Wearing a lot of hats,
KIM MAROON: Yeah,
KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: and then maybe your motorcycle helmet.
KIM MAROON: That and then I would say for the other part, like I’ve worked with agencies, as a designer, typically my day-to-day as a designer is within agencies or, or those commercial corporate clients. And I’m working on digital experiences, not producing photos, but at the same time, you’re just, you’re problem solving from a different lens. So it’s more about a website, an experience, maybe it’s a mobile app. You’re bridging that gap between the physical and digital experience. And those clients have needs based on their what type of business they’re in, and what customers they have, who’s coming to their site and what they need to do. So for people who don’t understand what user experience design, that’s, that’s pretty much it in a nutshell.
KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: I love that. I know, our producer Tori is really passionate about what do they call, UX, right? Is that what the shorthand is?
Yes. Yeah, that’s UX design is
KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: I’m trying to be hip like I know the terminology, Kim.
KIM MAROON: They have lots of words. It’s like product design, UX design, interact. interactive design is the other. Yeah. Whole Yeah, vocabulary.
KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: So you’re kind of dancing in these different worlds, which is so cool. Tell us a little bit about your average day or week like how are you? What’s your life like Kim? I’m curious
KIM MAROON: Oh, man, I feel like well, I work from home. My day to day is typically like with design work, design work is more structured. So that’s like typically a nine to five or like, regular working hours, or whatever my team or project is on. And then photo gets kind of sprinkled in as work comes up. So you know, I’m doing a lot of things now between marketing and pitching work and trying to reach out to clients. So that’s, there’s a lot of email and admin stuff that
KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: Yeah,
KIM MAROON: Is kind of not as not as exciting as like going out riding but it still has to get done. Yeah, so looking for work is typically the case. And then to compare the two of them I would say design work is more of like that cross country runner. Like if you’re thinking about sports, it’s like the cross-country race or the marathon it’s very long. It takes a long time to build a website and lots of people, with photo it’s more of a sprint, where you have “Okay, I have two days and I have to do this kind of shoot and get these images and then maybe like a couple of weeks of editing and then delivering them to a client”. you know, based on the timeline or project.
KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: Absolutely amazing. I love that you’re finding a way to seemingly kind of keep the balls in the air of balance.
KIM MAROON: Yeah, not to say that, like, I love one over the other. It’s just that each offers— design offer something and photography offer something. And they, you know, they start to feed each other in the way that like, I learned skills from one and I bring them to the other. I feel like having those conversations with people in photo and being like, outgoing, has helped me talk to design clients in meetings.
KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: I love that.
KIM MAROON: And vice versa. It’s like,
KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: Have you ever I’m curious to go back to like the Motorsports and automotive and like motorcycle land. But I’m just curious, like, how does your family or your parents like how do they feel about what you do? And being a motorcycle rider as a woman? Any any family, like raised eyebrows or anything?
KIM MAROON: Um, I didn’t tell my mom that I got my license. And I waited like a month to tell her that I got the bike. I was like, “Hey, you have a new grandchild.” And I took a picture and I sent to it to her. And I
KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: Just want a mother wants to hear.
KIM MAROON: I know, she was like, “where are you gonna put that?” she’s like your you know, because I don’t have a girl. I don’t have a garage. It stays on the street. But yes, she’s her first thing was like, Where are you keeping that? And
KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: That’s such a mom question.
KIM MAROON: I know, I was like, what I’m like, This is what you’re wondering about. And then she came to visit this summer. She’s like, she came up from Jersey to visit. And I had her sit on it. And she was very specific. She’s like, “don’t turn it on. I’ll just sit you know, just sit on it when it’s just quiet”. So she’s, I feel like she’s okay with it. But she’s not. She’s always like, be careful. She just says like, you know, watch out when you’re out by yourself. The normal mom stuff.
KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: Wow.
KIM MAROON: Yeah.
KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: Very cool. Kim, this has been awesome. I am like, I feel the adrenaline just talking to you. Wow. I’m like, gosh, I want to come to these events. It sounds amazing. Um, you know, I always love to finish these conversations by asking our guests their one tip to rock it. I just love your career. I love how you’re building this incredible ecosystem of creativity for yourself. You’re badass on a bike. I love the whole thing. Give us your one tip to rock it.
KIM MAROON: I feel like I have three
KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: We’ll take em!
KIM MAROON: So be yourself. Be nice and show up. Are the three.
KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: I love that. That’s a perfect series of three. Let’s say that again.
KIM MAROON: Like, be yourself. Be nice and just show up.
KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: Yes, I feel like because you did that you found this incredible community for yourself. And like you said it blew the doors open.
KIM MAROON: Yeah. It’s been a wild ride. For sure.
OUTRO: Thanks so much for tuning in to the She Rocked It podcast. I’m your host Karen Gross. This episode has been produced by Tori Marchiony with audio engineering by Teng Chen. The She Rocked It theme song is by Karen Gross and Tim Motzer. Please join us over on Instagram and check out our website at sherockedit.com to check out our Rockstar Network and check out all the cool things we have going on. Hope to see you soon!