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March 9, 2018

Meet Kelsey from Eight31 Photography

eight31 photography

When and how did you fall into the photography business?

I took an art class in college that was a prerequisite for my major at the time – Elementary Education. I’ve been able to very specifically remember the instructor telling me I had “a real eye for this stuff”, so I changed my major to Art Education (seriously, just like that). I had to have a certain amount of hours in art classes for that major and ended up choosing a photography for beginners course my junior year. That was it. I was hooked. I changed my major again to Art. The photography instructor, who was a wedding photographer at the time, saw my immediate passion and let me shadow him at a few of his gigs to see if it was something I would be interested in. I remember feeling overwhelmed but so incredibly into it at the same time. I started my photography business immediately after I graduated in 2010 and have never looked back.

eight31 photography

What do you believe wedding photography should be about?

Feelings. Wedding photography is all about feelings. I want the bride and groom to feel comfortable and confident. And I want the parents to feel heard when they ask me to capture certain moments and I want grandparents to feel proud of their family when they see the whole group photo. Above all, I want the actual photos to feel like the best reminder of what a great day it was when the bride and groom look back on their album for generations to come. Wedding photography is so personal to me. I get really into editing and feel so attached to the photographs when I’m done. I’m so proud to deliver wedding photos and want my clients to feel the same love for them as I do.

eight31 photography

What do you love about wedding and lifestyle photography?

Wedding and lifestyle photography are one in the same for me. I love that people trust me to capture real and true moments on their wedding day and that it’s not just about a posed photo to go on their mantle. I love that I get to be a fly on the wall and that brides will tell me they don’t even remember me being there at certain points. Trust me, that’s a compliment. If I’m doing my job right, I’ll capture all the real and beautiful moments of your wedding without you remembering I’m there.

eight31 photography

What are your favorite moments to capture while shooting?

One of my favorite things to capture on a wedding day is the bride and groom getting ready. There is so much nervous and excited energy in the room it’s almost palpable. Bridesmaids who’ve known the bride since grade school cry over how beautiful she looks. Brides tell me to watch out for Granny after she has a glass of wine because she starts grabbing butts. Groomsmen poke fun of the groom and give the best toasts after a shot of whiskey. Mothers stand in the corner of the room and look on with proud eyes. You can almost see the old home videos of their child they’re replaying in their heads. Dads try their hardest not to cry when they see their daughter for the first time. It’s those few hours, before it all really begins, that are my favorite to photograph.

eight31 photography

What’s your biggest inspiration in life?

I have several things in my life that inspire me – my faith, my husband, my family, competition and music. I’ve been a yo-yo churchgoer and believer my whole life, but it’s recently become a very powerful and important thing to me. My husband is another inspiration. He pushes me when I need it and reminds me of how far I’ve come when I’m feeling doubtful. My family members are my best friends. Our closeness and love inspires me to capture the love couples and families have for each other. Competition also inspires me. I’m 100% down with the #communityovercompetition movement, but I also grew up playing sports (and played basketball in college) and I thrive off of competition. Lastly, I’m inspired by music. Like right now I’m listening to a folk playlist on Spotify and it’s giving me all the good vibes to write this. When I’m done I’ll go back to blaring The Greatest Showman soundtrack to put my laundry away.

eight31 photography

What are some goals for your personal and professional life in the long run?

Personal goals: I really would love to have lots of babies and a six-pack afterwards. I want to grow my hair out and would love to learn how to macrame. I also have a goal to become an expert sushi-maker.

Professional goals: The biggest goal I have for my business in the long run is to just be happy. I don’t ever want my passion to become a pain or a burden and I don’t ever want to think I have to go shoot a wedding. I want to think how lucky I am to get to shoot a wedding. Another major goal is to travel more for shoots. I think I’ve shot every inch of my city and am ready to explore.

eight31 photography

It looks like you are willing to travel for your clients. What are some of your favorite destinations thus far?

Honestly, I have done next-to-none when it comes to traveling. I’ve gone to Massachusetts to shoot a dear friends wedding and to Florida to shoot a super spontaneous engagement session. But other than that, I’ve mainly stayed in Indiana. It’s funny – I have friends in the biz who travel a ton and are totally stressed and almost resent their job because they’re never home. But then I have other friends who travel all the time for shoots and are the happiest little photogs on the planet. I think it’s all about balance and respect for the beast that is destination wedding photography.

eight31 photography

What advice would you give someone new to the business?

I still feel a little silly giving others advice on how to be successful in this industry since I still feel like I have a long way to go. But I guess if I were to give any, it would be to stay true to yourself. I think it’s really important to study, respect and appreciate the work that others do. However, I find it equally important to take what you see and make it your own. It’s ok to make your own rules and create what you love. Sure, photography is a business, but at the end of the day, it’s art. Your art. Being inspired by others is a huge part of art, but to stand out and be great, it’s crucial to be yourself and create for yourself, not just for the magazine publication or blog feature.

eight31 photography

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve taken away from your profession?

The biggest lesson I’ve taken away from this profession is perseverance. I can’t tell you how many times I have edited sessions over and over again, trying to get a certain look. How many late nights I’ve spent tweaking the HSL slider to get the perfect tone. How many times I’ve gone to bed after those editing sessions frustrated and disappointed. I can’t tell you how many mindless hours I’ve spent scrolling Instagram. I sit there telling myself to only feel inspired by those amazing photographers instead of comparing my work, and usually failing. What I can tell you is how I have learned to persevere and push through those feelings of doubt and inferiority. I focus on my why (which could be a whole other blog post) and do what makes me happy. Will those doubtful times come again? Oh, I can guarantee it. It’ll probably come again tonight when I’m scrolling IG or trying to perfect skin tones, but I’m learning to see my work for what it is – truly unique to me and something that makes me feel happy.  

eight31 photography

How important is marketing to your business?

I can feel euphoric after a shoot and have all the heart eyes for the images. But if it’s not reaching anyone, how will I ever grow? I create for myself, but part of my joy comes from creating for others. My success is not measured in number of clients, but it is important to me to have a marketing strategy. That way I can continue to expand my client base and create some really amazing photos for people all across the country and the world.

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