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Daily Inspiration: Meet Kelly Darby

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kelly Darby.

Hi Kelly, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
In 2014, I decided to quit my career in government because of chronic health issues. This decision, while a huge risk, set me down a new path of creative career possibilities. My first pursuit was a childhood dream of acting and modeling. I purchased a camera to record my auditions, and my love of photography reignited. I was living on the beach in Florida at the time, and I started capturing epic landscapes of the ocean and skyline sunsets. I was hooked! When I moved to Raleigh, I decided to attempt to transition my hobby into a profession. Thankfully, as I was pursuing ads in Craigslist, I found a contracting gig in food photography. Despite my lack of experience, I was hired! Over the next several years, I expanded my portfolio into the fields of portrait and real estate photography by growing my skills through online training, trial and error, and apprenticeship opportunities. During this time, I was fortunate to travel through Europe and North America capturing epic landscapes. This opened up new doors in the market of fine art photography. I have since showcased two collections online and hope to share more in the future.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
In some respects, it has been a smooth road. I didn’t force new business but rather took opportunities as they came and allowed for a slow and steady stream of growth. I am not naturally a businesswoman. I enjoy the artistry but marketing myself and my work through social media and other platforms is personally a stressful endeavor. Therefore, I often work through third parties who take care of the business side so that I can retreat to focusing on what I love. Last year, I started working with a new company in real estate photography at the start of the pandemic. Unfortunately, I likely contracted COVID which caused a rapid downturn in my health. I had to stop working in April, and it is only a year later that I’m making strong headway in healing. Thankfully, photography is a beautiful career that allows for great flexibility and multiple platforms to focus your business. I focused on my online gallery during this time.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
My business started off as a passion project during a time of risk taking in my anything but normal life. Over the years, my business honed its focus into its current model: a merging of two of my favorite things—breathtakingly epic landscapes and stunning portraits. As one who loves to see the beauty of God’s creation in all its surprising and glorious ways, I find great joy in seeing people come to life in their personality as I set them in these grand backdrops. I am known for vivid colors, emotive and expressive portraits, and a spirit of life and light that flows through each image. My focus is the niche client that desires to capture the couple or the individual in stylized attire within epic landscapes. The client desires nature to shine just as much as their unique personalities. Showcasing both candid and posed portraiture. My ideal client is one who craves beauty and adventure and has a local or transcontinental destination in mind to secure the most epic landscape.

I also continue to capture and sell fine art photography of stand-alone epic landscapes through an online gallery.

Is there something surprising that you feel even people who know you might not know about?
I first began photography in high school. I had always been drawn to wildlife, nature, and landscape photography even as a child. One Christmas in my early teens, I combined money from a large gift and all my savings at the time to purchase my first camera. It was a Fujifilm FinePix S602; I still remember the name! I did as much research (in camera magazines at Barnes and Nobles) as I could at the time and found this camera to be the winner of my creative affections. The following summer, my family moved to California, and it was here I really got to work exploring this new tool. This was the early 2000s when the internet was still fresh, and there were no free or accessible online tutorials. Thus, I learned by tinkering, which led to many fruitless attempts at growing a skill I knew of very little. Additionally, digital cameras had yet to become energetically efficient. My camera ran off of AA batteries, which I soon discovered would die excruciatingly fast. I became so frustrated with this heavy and confusing piece of equipment that I eventually hit a wall in my already limited skillset and began to lose interest but not after winning a local photography contest. It wasn’t until ten years later that the craft found its way back to me.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Kelly Darby, Hannah Klingsheim, Amanda Ackerman, Derek Knowles, Jessica Douglas

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