I'm so excited to be chosen as the chair for the Folsom Focus Photography Contest presented by the Folsom Arts Association. It's a contest for amateur photographers that gives them a chance to showcase their work in a professional art gallery setting. The entries are displayed at the Gallery at 48 Natoma in Folsom. There's an opening reception on November 16th from 6:00pm - 8:00pm with light snacks and drinks and awards. So you can invite all your friends to see the work you have accomplished! You don't have to be a Folsom resident to participate you just have to take the photo within Folsom.
So for the next couple of weeks I'm going to help you (Mom, Dad, Grandma) win the cash prize at the contest. I will be teaching you how to take awesome photos for each category. So follow my blog or Instagram for the latest tips on how to get great photos for each category. You maybe wondering what the categories are. Well you can read below or go to folsomarts.org for the official rules. Each category will be judged by three established local photographers: Shoop's Photography, Elizabeth Koston Photography, and Susannah Gill Photography.
And the categories are:
Urban Scenes of Folsom
Cell Phone Photography
If you'd like a more detailed description of each category please see the Folsom Arts Association website for more details and to enter the contest.
Below are some examples of last years winners.
Deadline to enter is October 26th, 2018. So go check out the official rules and go take pictures of Folsom!
Do you want to know the best thing about family portraits? It's definitely the love between the members. Fortunately, I have had the privilege of having amazing families for all my sessions so far, especially the Divelbiss family. They are so sweet and beautiful they make what I do look really easy, plus the siblings love each other. From what I could tell the boys really loved their new baby sister. They were giving her hugs and being very gentle with her. They also were listening well (maybe it was mom's bribes, but I like to think they are still amazing kids) and following directions. Of course, at times there was some wiggling and energy that needed to be spent, but mom and dad were extremely patient and you could tell by the expression on their faces that, even though they were being naughty, mom and dad still thought they were being cute. You can tell by all their smiles that they love each other and have extraordinary amounts of fun together!
So I want to talk to you a little more about why I photograph the way I do. Why I like to photograph families and couples documentary style. And I'll tell you it has a lot to do with one person, who is my hero. My mother. Don't worry I'm not going to get all mushy and gooshy about it (insert scrunch face here when you say it). I'm just going to be real with it. My mom is my hero because she is strong, independent, outspoken and the best grandmother ever and my favorite photos of her and I were taking casually and candidly.
I think the only time we had formal portraits of us is when I was a baby. Oh yeah and when I was pregnant. Formal dressy portraits weren't us. So when I discovered documentary photography for families I knew that's how I wanted to capture my son's life. I love all the candid photos of my mom and I because reminds me of all that she had to do for me by herself. She was single and going to work everyday and raising a strong, independent woman. I mean that's hard work and I only wish that we had more pictures of us just going about our day. So I make sure that is something I capture for my son, everyday.
Whether we like it or not our parents taught us how to parent. Of course, there are parenting situations that you may do differently, but if you are anything like me you'll catch yourself acting more and more like your mom. Guess what though? That's fine by me because I think I'm a pretty decent person and a decent mom. Honestly, when I see my son with my mom I always think, my mom was a better mom than me, especially when I was young. I feel I'm not patient enough with my son sometimes, where as, she is. Although, I could be just too hard on my perfectionist self, but I do think about that every time I see them together.
So if you haven't figured it out already my mom is my hero. She taught me to be the person that I am today and she taught me a lot about my style when it comes to photography. She taught me to look for the fun in everything and not take life so seriously and all I can hope is that my style reflects her passion for happiness and the love she has for her family.
If you are from the Sacramento area you know of the Fab 40s. It's an area in downtown with the most amazing homes that exemplify the Tudor, Arts and Crafts and California Bungalow style homes. I'm so glad I met Kristen, who was throwing a ten year anniversary party for her and her husband Ben, at their home in the Fab 40s. They wanted to celebrate 10 years with all their family and friends because they didn't get to when they originally got married.
When they got married it was just the two of them. They flew to New York city with a sister in tow and got married in Central Park. Kristen had told me the wedding pictures were horrible because she was balling her eyes out and make-up was streaming down her face. But they loved every second of it and New York is their favorite place to be together. Then after 10 years they decided that they should share their joyous marriage with 75+ family and friends.
They celebrated in their backyard garden lit with beautiful string lights. Kristen is a pretty well-known jazz vocalist so she had a jazz quartet playing there. It was filled with music, food, laughs, dancing and lots of love! Honestly, I think this is the way to do it. Run off and get married together with a few close friends, then throw a big party later on. I totally want to throw a 10 year anniversary party now for myself! I'm half way there, but I'm not sure my husband would go for it. What do you think of an anniversary party? Is that something you want to do?
In light of the recent holiday, I wanted to write something more meaningful about the 4th of July that I think about when celebrating with family. I think of one word that holds the most significance to me about being an American and that word is choice. Being an american means having a choice. A choice to pursue what I want to do in life, what I want to say, how I want to feel, what I want to believe and be able to live in a place that let's my son have that same choice.
There are all kinds of people who will try to stomp on your choice and to tell you it's wrong. They will try to influence your choice or even try to make the choice for you with the use of force. Ultimately it doesn't matter because you are the one in control of your own mind. You ultimately make the choice to be influenced or not.
Choice is our most powerful tool as an American and as a parent. It fuels the idea of the American dream, something that I want my son to know and to know that he can make the choice to pursue the life he wants. It's why many outside of the United States come here to give their family that same choice and it's the reason I celebrate Independence Day.
Tell me why do you celebrate? What is it about this holiday that makes it special for you?
Maybe it's because I know that I'll never have another baby again or I just miss the sweet snuggles of a of a tiny human, but these first day of life sessions give me all the feels. I remember those precious first few days like it was yesterday. They were filled with wonder and delight, but also worry. Although this family didn't seemed worried I'm sure there were lots of times they were. It's all a part of being a parent.
Birth is a crazy thing. For a woman to grow another life inside of her is so weird, but also so amazing to think about as the same time. It's something so special that men can not do. Think about that for a second because women you are powerful just in that sense alone. You can birth another human being, men can't do that, they just can't. Women are the only ones and that is so meaningful and so powerful and should be celebrated. Without you, without women our species would fail to exist. I always thought birthdays should not just be for celebrating our children, but also a celebration of the mom that birthed you. Something to think about when your birthday rolls around, maybe a thank you card or small gift for your mom.
My absolute favorite photo from this session it the one pictured above. Mom looks completely in love and content looking at her baby with wonder. Baby is swaddled and in a peaceful sleep. This photo is the embodiment of motherhood that first day. In love, but tired and just wanting to give baby everything.
After almost two years in business I realize I did one thing wrong. I never really introduced myself or explained why I do what I do in my blog. I mean, I have an about me section, but it doesn't fully explain why I do photography the way that I do it. I guess there's no time like the present.
If you don't know me; hi, i'm Kelly. I am the photographer and owner of Kelly Howell Photo. I live in Placerville, California. I am in an area that's commonly called Gold Country. It's called this because this is where the gold rush of California was active and lively. Its the beginning of the Sierra mountain range. Often when I say I am from California most people think I live on the beach. Many people don't realize that California has an amazing array of mountains, wetlands, farmlands, volcanoes and cities. I have traveled to many states and geographically California is still my favorite. It's weather and access to outdoor activities is an outside enthusiasts dream. It's what inspired me to start photography in the first place.
Since I was a child I have been artistic. I started drawing at a very young age. I remember having drawing competitions with my dad and grandfather. We would try and see who could draw the best cat or farm scenes or island scenes. I still love to draw today and paint, but I grew too impatient for it and I am also a perfectionist when it comes to things like that. So when I discovered photography it was an amazing fit!
I bought my first fancy DSLR camera in 2007 after getting my first full time job. It was a treat to myself. I bought a Nikon D40 with two kit lenses. I was taking pictures of everything from chicken (yes raw chicken, don't judge, hahaha) to cat toys to landscapes. I had no real direction I was just taking pictures. Did this bring me to where I am today? Maybe, I'll never really know, but it did give me lots of practice. There was a time in between when I first started and now where I didn't photograph anything at all. I get very unmotivated when I don't have direction. Then one day I came across a site called Creative Live in search of classes for an entirely different business I had. I discovered all the amazing photography classes they had and it reignited the spark I once had for photography.
After browsing all the amazing classes by world re-known photographers I came across a class called Family Photography: Modern Storytelling by Kirsten Lewis. As soon as I watched the first class I was hooked. It's exactly what I have always wanted to do, plus it was along the lines of my other love street photography. I just loved that you were focusing more on telling the family's personal story by giving them a third person's perspective of their entire day. Also, it was a revelation on how I could document my own son's childhood without staging photos. I was just so inspired by documenting my own son's childhood in this photojournalist style that I wanted others to be able to enjoy something like this too.
Not only do I love family documentary photography, but I love street photography as I mentioned in the earlier paragraph. Many people get confused on what street photography is and it's basic definition is candid photography in a public space. People always think you can only take pictures in huge cities like New York or Chicago, but it can be anywhere. Next year I'll be featured at the Gallery at 48 Natoma for my small town street photography series, which I am currently working on. See example below.
Since I am a drawer and painter at heart I love photography that is conceptual and is considered fine art. Some examples of this type of photography are photographers like David LaChapelle and Brooke Shaden. Their photographs almost look like a painting instead of a photograph and it's pretty stunning and I am automatically drawn to it. I hope to incorporate this into my photography this year and next with some self portraits.
Here is a list of projects I am working on this year and next year:
Fine Art Selfies
Small Town Street Photography
100 Things Your Child Should Do Before 10
Bokeh Night Photography
And some personal projects that I am undecided if I am going to share yet.
The running theme between all of these projects and why I keep taking pictures is the fact that I love people! I love culture and I love our differences because that's what makes the world so fascinating. I love meeting new people and knowing their stories, even if it's a conceptual story. I like to know why they do what they do. Why it excites them and I want to show that through my photographs.
I think photographers now-a-days are jacks of all photography trades. Many don't concentrate on a particular type or subject. As a photography business owner clients request so many different things that you end up just taking whatever work you can find. But other times there are times I do things as a photographer just to get practice and learn new skills. For example this photo shoot. Even though I love documentary photography I also love fashion photography and pretty outfits. It's just something I like learning about as it's an entirely different from what I normally do. It's just another way to creatively express myself.
This photo shoot was with several other photographers. It was a collaboration to potentially create art for a new Mexican restaurant opening up in Folsom, California. Whether or not my photos end up in the restaurant is really beside the point here, but a bonus if they did. I just really enjoyed working with the models and learning how to pose people more naturally. I shared a few of these photos from this shoot on my Instagram account, but here is the full gallery. Enjoy and if you are ever looking for some glam fashion photos shoot me an email!
The other day I was looking for more photos to print for our hallway photo wall and I got really upset at myself. I was upset because there were no photos of me. Even from 2017 when I did my 365 project, I took one photo for every day and not a single one had me in them. So this year at least once a week I am trying to get myself in family photos. Not just selfies, which I hate taking, but real photos of us all interacting.
It's also a good way to practice self care, since it is self care Saturday. How, is probably what you are asking yourself right now. We are all our biggest critiques right? Some more than others. But it helps to see yourself in photos because your family doesn't care what you look like as long as you're having fun with them and that's evident in the photos. It's a lot like children when they see photos of themselves with family. It gives them a sense of belonging, but this is not just great for children, but parents too. When you see yourself laughing or smiling or nurturing your family in pictures it gives you a feeling of inclusion, that you found your tribe, your people and that they care. I know a lot of moms out there that feel taken for granted, so this is a great way to feel appreciated. It's also a reminder to ourselves of what you already have and not what we are always wanting.
So because I am still working on getting pictures of myself I am doing a little throwback to when I did have pictures of me taken. I really need to get these old photos printed and on my walls. I want it to look like I live in my house too.
And dads, this is your chance to pick that camera or phone and take a picture of your wife, girlfriend, whatever. She wants to feel as much as a part of the family as you do. So, moms be a nag about it. Ask your husband to take a picture. If he's on the sidelines and you're in the trenches tell him you want a picture of what's happening. If you have a fancy camera teach him how to use it or just switch it to auto and hand it over, just having the photo is more important than it being perfect. As you can see the photos above are not perfect, but I am still really happy about them.
Last, but not least print them out. Print, print and print! Your walls should be filled with photos of your family. Pinterest has an enormous amount of ways to hang photos. Get them off of your computer, where you look at them once a year, and get them displayed. Again, it doesn't have to be perfect and the pictures don't have to be "good" they just have to be something that makes you happy and feel included. I am challenging myself and you to make this a part of your self care. I would love to see in the comments how you are getting more photographs of yourself and how you are displaying them. So go do it already!
Oh my goodness! I seriously had so much fun creating some mini sessions for the Sierra Moms play group. I built two set-ups plus there were bubbles to play with. The first set-up was a flower stand and the second was a farmers market stand with real chickens. I love how they turned out and the families had a great time too!