Featured Photog: Kelli West

Kelli West

Kelli West Photography

Site : Facebook

Q. Tell us a little about yourself in just two sentences and include a picture of yourself.

A. I am a wife to the most supportive and loving husband, a mother of very happy and energetic (almost) 3yr old twin boys Jensen & Brad and love every minute I have with them. I have a very outgoing personality and I LOVE photography, crafting, and singing in my car (who doesn’t right?). By the way, this picture was taken a year and a half ago. :)

Q. What do you shoot with and what is your favorite lens and why?

A. Right now I shoot with the Canon 7D and am on the waiting list for the 5DMarkIII (squeal)!! My most used lens in my 24-70 2.8 because it is so versatile.  About 6 months ago I bought the 70-200 2.8 and LOVE it for the great bokeh it gives me. Plus I don’t have to be up in my client’s face with it.

Q. When did you start shooting for fun and then move to shooting professionally?

A. I have always had some sort of camera in my hands. In elementary I had the disposable cameras (and went through a lot of them). In high school I would play around with my parents Canon film SLR.  After I got married in January 2005 I started to take pictures for families and friends with my film SLR and within about 6 months my wonderful husband bought me the 30D but I did not really advertise myself.  In 2007 is when I would say I got more serious about it.

Q.  Are you formally taught or self taught?

A. I am self taught for the most part. I have had photography classes in high school and some in college. I also took about 5 different courses that they offer at our local University for community education. I have bought a lot of books and read up on the internet when I have wanted to learn something new. I am hoping to go back to college soon and get my degree in photography.

Q. What is your specialty and how did you decide to specialize in that area of photography?

A. I don’t necessarily specialize in one area because I love the challenge of the constant change. I love taking pictures of a newborn, then going to shoot a wedding the next weekend.  I just love it all!!

Q. How many sessions are you shooting a month?

A. It varies. January is usually my slow month.  During the regular months I would say about 2-3 a week. During the fall I have about 5-6 shoots a week.  I try not to get too busy because I love my time with my boys, they are the #1 priority.

Q.  On average how long to do you spend editing each session and do you listen to music while editing or just enjoy the quiet?

A. Probably too long.:)On average I would say 4 hours depending on the type of session. Weddings are a little longer because there is more to process and go through. I usually have the TV on when I edit.  I DVR Dr.Oz and Nate Berkus and watch those while I edit because I don’t need to focus on those, it is just good background noise.

Q. What is your favorite part of the process? Shooting, editing, etc.

A. I love shooting. I really enjoy being around my clients and making those connections. I do enjoy editing, just not as much as being out shooting.

Q. What is the best marketing tool that works for you or was a total waste of time?  Do you advertise in print?  Do you offer referral bonuses?  If yes, please share a little.

A. Word of mouth and Facebook. I have never tried print so I don’t know if it would be a waste of time and money. I do have a referral bonus. I offer a $20 credit every time a client refers a new client and they book a session with me.

Q. What do you do to “stand out” from surrounding photographers that you’re competing with?

A.  I prefer to make friends over competitors.  I have many friends that are photographers and we help each other out.  Also in Utah there are a million photographers, so I just do what I do and try not to worry about what everyone else is doing.

Q.  What do you do to help a client come out of their “shell” during a session?

A.  I have a very outgoing personality, so I joke around with the clients a lot to get them relaxed and smiling. I also try to understand and get to know the client so I know how I can act to help them be at ease. If little kids are involved I bring toys, treats and make a fool of myself.

Q.What do you struggle with the most?

A. The business side hands down! That is where my husband comes in and helps me! I am also not that great with blogging my sessions. It is a goal of mine to do better at that.

Q. How did you find your style? Any advice to new photographers on how to find their own style?

A.  I found my style through patience and a lot of shooting.  It just takes time to find what you like, and how you like to work things out.  The advice would be just to stay true to yourself.  Do what YOU love and want to do. Don’t do something  just because you saw another photographer do it. And practice, practice, practice!

Q. Please share your favorite image and tell us what makes this your favorite?

A. I have so many I love, but for now these are the ones I love. This wedding was just beautiful!!  I LOVE the couple and their families. I just adored the love coming from them.  Plus, who doesn’t love taking pictures in 30 degree weather?

Q. Can you show us your shooting space?  If you are shooting inside can you show a simple pull back shot or lots of images if you have a large studio.  If you shoot on location please share an image of you favorite location.

A. Right now my husband and I are looking for a lot to build on, and once we do we will be building me a studio off of the house (which I can’t wait for).  Until then my lovely sister is letting me have my studio set up in her unfinished basement. I use the studio for babies and children and do the rest of my shooting out in the wide open space.

Q. Is there anything you would like to promote?  Maybe a mentoring you offer or any side projects.

A. Not at the moment.

Q. Please share an image of your Prop stash!  This doesn’t have to be an organized space just an image showing off your addiction.

A. There is not that much yet, but it continues to grow.:)Sorry about the mess, I need to buy another shelf to put my baskets and crates on.

Q. What is the best piece of advice you would give to a new photographer?

A. Just get out and shoot. The more you learn and the more time you spend shooting the better you will be. I like to pick one technique at a time and just go out and learn that. You will see over time that you have learned how to do many things.


More of Kelli’s Work:

Thank YOU for sharing with us Kelli!

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Jason W. - March 26, 2012 - 2:07 pm

Beautiful job gorgeous! I am proud of how far you have come since your first camera and your work is absolutely amazing.

Laurel - March 27, 2012 - 7:04 pm

Beautiful article and great photos. Thanks for sharing them! :)

Joel Conner - March 29, 2012 - 12:02 pm

Some great stuff in there! wide variety

Anthonette Cossio - April 3, 2012 - 11:21 pm

I love the photos! Great work guys!! Camara bags are gorg also!!

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