One of the most common questions I get from fans is “How did you get started doing this?” Did you learn it somewhere? Discover it by accident?
Here’s that story.
I had a career doing nerdy stuff before I was a professional photographer. Back in 2006 I was working as a Market Research consultant in Boston. Everything you hear about consulting is true. Intense work, long hours, dinners at the office. I worked with some amazing people (and a few lunatics), but it was stressful and exhausting and I was kinda starting to lose it.
In my teens and twenties, I had enjoyed photography, doing nature shots on slide film when I lived in Hawaii, during vacations in National Parks, on pilgrimages for bluebonnets in Hill Country, that sort of thing. I aspired to be a professional photographer. I adored playing with the camera, and it was my escape. It helped preserve my sanity and felt incredibly me. I’d get that itch to go shoot if I hadn’t been in a while.
So back to Kelly as the exhausted consultant in Boston.
I was working long hours and stressed out. I’d get home late, it was dark, and going out to do any standard nature photography was out of the question.
But I had some flowers from the farmer’s market.
Super late at night—I’m a dedicated night owl—I started playing with my camera and taking pictures of the pretty flowers. Purely playing for the escape. Tripods & lighting aren’t my thing, so I was just doing this all handheld. Standard indoor lighting is insufficient for most cameras, which necessitated a slow shutter speed. Which meant the photos would be blurry. So I just leaned into it and went full steam on the blurry by dancing and jumping around with the camera.
My camera was digital by now, so I could just play with it without having to worry about the cost of film. Plus instant gratification! You get to see immediately what you’re getting, adjust on the fly, try again, play some more. It was a game changer.
Most of these pictures sucked.
But a few were interesting.
And I was on my way.