Women in Agribusiness: Katie Knapp

 
 

We've all heard the phrase, "A picture is worth a thousand words," and when it comes to telling the stories of farmers, Katie Knapp is in the business of doing just that. Knapp is an accomplished ag photographer and communications consultant based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

Growing up on a farm north of Peoria, Illinois, Knapp was a typical farm kid participating in 4-H and FFA, where she won a state competition in ag business. Her collegiate path took her to ag communications, followed by a highly specialized field of Visual Sociology. In fact, one of the only master's degree programs for this area of study is based in London, England. 

While in London, Knapp studied how consumers visualize their food choices. What are the semantics that are permeating food? What is the image that comes to mind when consumers see or hear the words organic, grass-fed, and non-GMO? As an ag photographer, Knapp says, "My mission is to put images into a realm where consumers can see what farming really is. Who is the farmer today and how is that food being produced? What does 'sustainability' look like?"

After graduating with her master's degree in visual sociology, Knapp moved back to the States and took a leap of faith to start her own business. Her previous experience working in the advertising business prepared her for communications consulting and professional photography. Her clients range from associations and companies to small farm operations. 

"There is a huge segment of the market out there that is really interested in this dialogue between farms and tables," said Knapp. 

Along the way, Knapp gained valuable insight from mentors, and with each step she kept narrowing her focus while gaining knowledge of what she wanted her company to be. "It's important to measure success on your own terms and to not compare yourself to others too much," said Knapp. "It's also good to surround yourself with supportive people and mentors who can help you test out theories and business plans." 

Learning to challenge the status quo and always ask "what if" are some of the lessons she has learned along the way to becoming a successful ag entrepreneur. 

For more on Katie's work, visit her website.