My name is Kelley and I have an interesting story so pour yourself a cup of something tasty, grab a comfy chair and let’s get started…
I was born and raised in the southern California town of San Diego. I have no sad story in my backdrop, I have nothing to complain about in my childhood. I was raised by two strong, good and still married parents in a middle-class suburban community surrounded by wonderful people and safety. My only flaw in early life… I discovered the arts and I never wanted to do anything else. Not really much of a flaw, let’s be honest.
At the ripe old age of five I was making advanced drawings and paintings and my parents, being the ever-supportive people that they are, continued to push me forward in my prodigy. My mother hinted every so often that maybe I should be more in-tune with medicine, research and science but it wasn't in the cards. My cards came from a much different deck than most. So from my childhood into the blooming parts of my adulthood, I did nothing all day long but work on my art. Writing, painting, photography, drawing, sculpting, even performance… All day, every day, there wasn’t any deviation from my love of art.
I was accepted into the Academy of Art University on a scholarship right out of high school. From being just a kid that made art to an adult that made good art, I decided that San Francisco might be the place for me to hone the skills and thick skin I needed to become a professional artist… you know, the kind that make money… ok maybe you don't know any artists that make actual money but, we try.
I spent about a year in San Francisco before I decided that my skin was plenty thick and I couldn't afford to continue my studies at the private school plopped in the center of California’s most expensive city learning how to make art, even on a scholarship. So I came back to San Diego where I decided to find a much more affordable educational experience. A move back that, at first, seemed defeating and frustrating but after a little time and meeting my now husband, I realized that San Diego was a better place for me to find myself.
With much encouragement I applied to UCSD, probably the most competitive university in San Diego. The University of California in San Diego accepted my application for a bachelors degree in 2009 and I completed the program in 2011 earning a B.A. in Art history and research that I never really got to use. I earned it, I graduated with honors, but I spent almost all my time in my senior year working in the arts and marketing industry as a professional.
My last year at UCSD I worked as the Art Coordinator for the university and I decided to skip the whole “applying for internships at the museums thing” and opened up my own photography studio in Southern California in the final months of my educational career. Within the first two years we were established and ready to reach every corner of the United States.
It was a dream come true opening a company that flourished solely because I willed it to… because my work was good and my ethic was strong. I remember being in Hawaii thinking to myself, “how did I get here?! Is this even real?”
And as my company grew so did my skills. Soon I went from being just a lead photographer in my studio to a marketing master, a creative director, a tourism specialist and even an accountant (four times a year actually). I managed my team, I worked hard and as a result my clientele grew and grew. It was time for my husband and I to start thinking about maybe using our resources to finally have a family.
We got married, we found a place in downtown San Diego (City Heights to be exact for those of you familiar with San Diego), we got some dogs and we tried to have a child… We were very unsuccessful. As a hard working individual this was hard for me to understand… I wasn’t able to work my way out of this situation and for whatever reason when someone tells me “no” I work even harder at getting the “yes.”
We tried for 4 years and we lost 4 times… So we decided to move into a smaller place, keep the dogs and work on healing through travel. Of course, that meant the universe would bless us with a baby finally.
Fast forward a year later and we had a brand new baby girl, a MUCH smaller house and an infant that had been to 15 states in-utero. Life never comes as is planned, but I proved to myself that with enough hard work and time, anything is possible.
When our daughter was born we were expecting to just be like any other parents. Push the baby out, put a cute pink hat on her, figure out how to feed her, stuff her into a carseat that seems way too big and head home in a panicked state. However, life as it proved in the past, does not move forward as planned and our daughter came into the world with Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate as well as about a half dozen other issues associated with a Midline-type syndrome… My husband and I looked at each other and in his truest form in times of stress he said, “well, that may have been why we were having so much trouble getting pregnant.”
We named her Elizabeth after my mother and grandmother and then we nicknamed her Tess. She spent a long first year on this earth; a month in the NICU, 5 long weeks participating in a trial with something called the NAM and three pretty serious surgeries. We just went with the flow and kept working hard, on her first birthday she was the most beautiful and bright child I have ever laid my eyes on. The work came to fruition and our daughter thrives… truly thrives, she’s the brightest light in my life.
I continued to take photos, travel and do my artsy thing for another year before I got my first opportunity to travel in Scandinavia. My husband’s family is a large chunk Scandinavian (Danish and Norwegian), so it was an intentional push to get out and see the beauty in the North. We went to Norway where I worked for a travel blog just snapping away and enjoying the sights with my family. In all my years as a wedding photographer I had never received so much attention for the work I was doing as a travel photographer. Scandinavia opened up a whole new world for my career and I was being approached constantly by people wanting to know more about me, my family and my photos.
So we came back a few months later… only this time my husband was the impetus. Having been a working musician for over 15 years, my husband was tired of living in various vans and nasty hotel rooms and was prepared to move forward in his music composition career. Seeking a masters program that was both worthy of him and him of it, he chose to explore the place we had already grown to love… Scandinavia.
He was accepted into his current Masters program at the Royal Danish Academy of Music that following April. I was faced with a difficult choice.
Success is a fickle thing in that sometimes you’re successful in money and not in spirit. Working 60 hour weeks without a single break and seeing my child grow up through FaceTime videos made me money but I needed more soul profit. I called various friends I have, a couple living here in Denmark, and got the advice that maybe I should just go for it and find a new path here in Copenhagen. I sold my studio, paid my husband's tuition, I moved forward and I didn't take a single moment to look back.
With a little hard work, right?
I succumbed to the reality that I was spending too much time sitting behind a computer and not enough time with my family; that I’m really talented, knowledgable about Marketing and Social Media, hard working and that I should just go for it… Opportunity.
And now I’m here in Denmark. My husband is knee-deep in his Master's program, my daughter is knee-deep in muddy puddles and I’m still making art… Only now I make art for Denmark.
So now I wait for that one person who reads this and sees my art and says, “I better snap her up.” What do I have to offer? Loads of experience, a desire to work hard for everything I have and a need to produce new and innovative ideas. Who’s going to be the wise person getting to this last sentence that decides to send an email? Because I’m waiting and I’m willing.
1hr portrait sessions for couples, families, and travel blogs in Copenhagen specially priced at 725dkk for a limited time only. This package includes:
-All your digital images edited to perfection
-An online album for downloading, printing and sharing your photos. See my other client's albums here!
-Me, in all my fun and awesome glory! Let's have a great time together!