Photography hobby has turned Kris Cavin into a gem for Camas, Clark County
A few months ago, this story could have started with the tried and true: Not all heroes wear capes.
Then Kris Cavin went out and ruined that idea because, yes, he wore a cape.
There he was, early in the pandemic, sporting his Camas Unites flag over his shoulders, walking around town, spreading joy and positive messages.
Much like Clark Kent, Kris Cavin has a more famous name, too:
For years, KC Fresh has been a fixture at Camas sporting events, as well as assemblies, concerts, and plays. His sidekick is his camera. Together, they team up to zoom in on students, providing memories.
He is most known for his sports photography. And not just for the Camas Papermakers. Athletes from all over Clark County have had their pictures taken, at no cost. Messages of appreciation from those students and their parents are all over KC Fresh’s social media pages.
“The smiles and the thank yous are better than any money I could receive for doing this,” Cavin said.
But just how did Kris Cavin, insurance businessman, become KC Fresh, the Man of Focus?
Well, there were a few factors, really.
Photography was always a hobby. When his children started playing sports, his camera gave him the opportunity to get closer to the action as well as away from the few, but loud, parents who constantly shared their displeasure with officials or coaches.
“The negativity in the stands was killing me,” he recalled. “I bet if I got a camera, I could go stand down there and be by myself.”
His son Jakob was 8 years old at the time. His daughter Tabatha was 5. They were going to be the only ones in his viewfinder, back in 2005.
“Pretty soon, parents started requesting pictures,” he said.
A few years later, an unexpected career change turned into a perfect scenario for this energetic, talk-to-anyone personality. Out of work for the first time in his life, he figured he could get into sales.
“I’d really like a job where I can help people, and I want to get paid for my performance with no cap,” he said.
He started working for Country Financial in February 2009.
He went about learning the insurance business, and, more importantly, he went about finding a way to connect.
“Community service in a small community is what gets your name out there,” Cavin said.
So he showed up to more and more events, camera in hand.
“Having this photography hobby, I was able to meet, I don’t know, 30 percent of the population,” he said.
In the early days, he’d offer to email photos to families. Here’s the thing. He did not know most of the families. So he’d go up in the stands, try to find a parent, and just introduce himself. Some, he says now with pride, must have thought he was crazy.
By 2014, a little research showed that 30 percent of his sales were coming from people who knew him from his hobby.
Oh, and then he found social media.
Soon, he would go from that guy with the camera to KC Fresh.
“I remember I did a football game and I tweeted out some photos. My phone went crazy that night,” Cavin said. “We couldn’t sleep. I had to turn off the notifications. ‘Wow, people like these photos.’”
Actually, his first ventures to high school games were met with a bit of resistance. He was told he couldn’t get sideline access, so he took photos from the stands. Eventually, his fans started a campaign to get him a photo pass.
Camas school officials saw the positive light that Cavin was shining on the community and gave him access.
“The 2015 year is when it blew up,” Cavin said.
Still, not everyone knew who he was.
One night, he might have been standing too close to the action when a soccer official kicked him off the sideline. It turned out, the official called offside … on Cavin.
“That baffled me that he thought I looked enough like a teenage girl,” Cavin said. “That’s why I started wearing a (colored) penny during soccer games.”
He also started going to plays, and concerts. Students in the performing arts should have keepsakes, as well.
Back to sports, he would share photos with students from other teams, too.
Evergreen High School soccer was so impressed, its coach wanted to give Cavin access throughout the league. After a meeting with the athletic directors, Cavin, indeed, received a Greater St. Helens League pass.
Athletes send him invitations to their games. It is tough for him to say no. He might seem like he’s everywhere, but there are some seasons — basketball in particular — that he just can’t go to every event.
“I’d go five nights a week if I didn’t have a wife,” he says with a laugh, celebrating Jennifer, clearly the sane one in this marriage.
Sometimes he will go to a game but leave in the middle.
“People ask, ‘Why are you leaving at halftime?’ ‘I have to stay married,’” he says.
Through the years, and more than 100,000 photos later, he has charged exactly zero dollars and zero cents to students and family.
He has been recognized with a few community honors, including the Volunteer Spirit Award from the city.
There was a push to get Cavin, who graduated from Franklin High School in Portland in 1989, an honorary diploma from Camas. High school administrators had to say no, but instead, they awarded him nine varsity letters.
“That’s a big deal to me, to be the only lettermen from Camas in nine sports, including volleyball and softball,” Cavin said. “No other guy in the world can say he lettered in volleyball and softball at Camas.”
In February, the Camas School District honored Cavin with the Mill Town Pride award.
Dr. Jeff Snell, the superintendent, said recipients represent the “best of who we were, who we are, and who we want to be.”
Cavin, Snell added, was the perfect choice.
“He’s just been a presence in our community for a while now. He always has a smile on his face. Always looks so excited to be there, wherever he is,” Snell said.
That might be easy to do with thousands of people at a football game, but Snell said he has seen Cavin at events with just a few parents and an administrator or two.
“He’s still having a great time,” Snell said.
Oh, and Cavin is not just some guy with a camera. He knows what he is doing with that thing. He will admit that was not always the case. But he has received advice from professional photographers. And he has been obsessed with improving his art.
He might not technically be a professional photographer, but his pictures have been used in several media outlets, including Clark County Today. His reputation in Camas, and then the rest of the GSHL, led to him being allowed access to WIAA state tournaments.
All this, from just wanting to take pictures of his children. Jakob, by the way, is 23 now. Tabatha is 20.
All this, because he wanted to find a connection with the town he moved to in 2000, and fell in love with just seconds later.
Oh, and all this for another reason. He also volunteers all of these hours for … himself.
He said he has three hobbies. Taking pictures is one. Editing the photos is another.
“That’s like my birthday!” he says.
And the third hobby?
“I’m a natural,” he said. “I love tweeting.”
Cavin has two accounts on Twitter. KC Fresh, of course, (@KCFreshInc) but he also has Photo Time (@ItIsPhotoTime), where he posts most of his pictures.
His hobbies are therapeutic, too.
On one of the most difficult days of his life, he had photography waiting for him, to help him through a crisis.
Kris found his father in his home, dead from natural causes. The trauma of that day, of calling 9-1-1, dealing with responders … the emotions were raw. His wife asked if he would be able to drive himself home.
“I’m not going home,” he said.
It was Senior Night for Camas soccer. He had to go to Doc Harris Stadium.
“This is a beautiful hobby. It took my mind off of it,” he recalled. “There wasn’t a chance I was going to miss senior night. One, these kids were depending on me. Two, I needed to get what I just witnessed out of my head.”
Now, Kris Cavin is KC Fresh and KC Fresh is Kris Cavin. Can’t really separate the two.
At 49, and even though his children are no longer in the Camas School District, he has no plans of shutting down his super powers.
“I’ll quit when my fingers stop working,” he said. “I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. I don’t know how to golf, fish, or hunt.”