Welcome to our featured photographer spotlight, we have an amazing featured photographer this week, we know you will love her work! Our featured photographer spotlight is one of our highest honors. At the end of the year, each photographer has an automatic entry to win ProPhoto Stop’s Photographer of the year award. We hand select our entrants and at the end of the year they will have the opportunity to win, along with entries submitted by our fans! This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Kelly Kirksey Fisk of Kelly Kirksey Photography, a gifted photographer from Kalispell, Montana who is well known for her fun, crisp and rustic photography style. We hope you check out her work and let it inspire you.
Q: First off, tell us a bit about you as a person, not as a photographer.
I was born and raised in Louisiana, but when I moved to Montana for an internship 8
years ago, I fell in love with the Big Sky state. I am married and have two really stinking
cute kids. I am a crazy food snob. People have literally stopped inviting us over for
dinner. I judge brides by the quality of their wedding cake 😉 I love to travel and
my dream is to photograph a wedding in Japan.
Q: Where are you located?
Q: When did you first officially start your photography business?
In 2006 I got my first DSLR and 3 short months later a friend asked me to photograph
her friend’s wedding. I fell in love with weddings and I did 17 more the next summer.
Q: What made you decide to get into photography?
Creating something beautiful feels good. I got my first point and shoot digital camera in
2000. It was a 2 megapixel Kodak something or another. I just started playing with it and
saw how happy it made me. Two years later I got a Sony Mavica which I thought was the
coolest thing in the world! I even talked to a local photographer about how I spent $500
on this camera. I was so proud until she told me she spent $5,000 on hers 😉 I took
thousands of pictures with that little Sony and from those two little cameras a passion
Q: What was the turning point in which you decided to turn this into a profession?
When someone wanted to pay me. Horrible answer huh? But it’s true. How awesome is
it to do what you love AND get paid. About 4 years ago I got really serious and made a
business plan for where I want to go and what exactly I want to do.
Q: What are some of the biggest mistakes you made in the beginning that you wish you could
warn other photographers who are starting out, NOT to do?
I just jumped in. I really wish I would have spent time educating myself. I’ll be honest, I
didn’t even know what ISO was at my first dozen or so weddings. I really regret not
respecting the industry more and being more educated.
Q: How many sessions do you average per month?
10-15 plus around 12-20 weddings a year.
Q: What is your favorite type of session?
Weddings hands down! I thrive at weddings. They are like my personal little happy
Q: What is something you see other photographers doing that you aren’t interested in doing/trying?
In person sales just don’t interest me. I’ve been thinking a lot about it, but the thought
of it makes me slightly nauseous. It’s been very successful for a lot of people, but it’s
soooooo not me! I don’t want to tell products as much as I want to sell my services.
Q: What is something you have seen other photographers do that you would love to do but
haven’t gotten the chance?
I would love to do more styled shoots. I would love to work with a lot of local vendors to
make something magical happen.
Q: We all have a horror story from a session, one session that everything seemed to go wrong.
Care to share yours?
I shudder just thinking about this one wedding. It was a nightmare. It started when the
bride was almost 2 hours late and her bridesmaids were even avoiding her. She was just
an unhappy person all day. However, my second shooter and I made it through the day
with some amazing images. The next morning around 10 am, I got a call from the groom.
The first words out of his mouth were, “we know we are going to hate our pictures, we
need to see them.” Fast forward to 4 weeks later when we they received their pictures
and they called saying they hated them. I was crushed, but knew beyond the shadow of
a doubt their images were wonderful and the same quality I gave all my brides. The
whole situation didn’t end well, but I learned a lot from it and have never had a situation
even close to that. I am not sure the couple is even married anymore.
Q: What is the funniest thing to ever happen during a session?
I’ve done a few weddings in Butte, Montana. Butte is known for their wild weddings.
One particular wedding I did I was about 6 months pregnant and during the reception an
entire beer was spilled all over me. The rest of the night I was the pregnant
photographer that had a little too much to drink. To this day I wonder what the person
at the hotel was thinking when I checked in that night.
Q: Are you a Canon or Nikon lover?
Q: What is your favorite lens?
My nifty 50mm 1.4. Although the 85mm is quickly catching up.
Q: How do you balance your work and your personal life?
I don’t. It’s really a struggle of mine. I love to work. My family and I are currently working
on some boundaries. It’s my responsibility to make those boundaries happen. For me
my work is my personal life. It’s not like a job that ends. I take it with me to bed, on
vacation, etc. One day I’m going to figure out how to turn it off, but until then it’s a
Q: How would you describe your photography style?
Fun and rustic! I live in Montana which itself just screams rustic. And more than
anything I want my clients to have fun. I want their pictures to show that.
Q: What is your most favorite image you have ever shot and why is it your favorite?
This was shot at a wedding this winter. Not a lot of people get married in the winter.
This wedding was just fantastic. I feel like epitomized what I want from a wedding. It
was a dream with a dream location for pictures. We live by Flathead Lake which should
easily be one of the wonders of the world. It’s incredible. This very uninhibited bride
walked down to the bank of the lake and just lived in her moment. I never once posed
her. This was all her enjoying her day and determined to make some amazing memories.
I’m forever grateful to this bride for showing me so much life in a wedding.
Q: Name another photographer who inspires you.
Kay English photography. I don’t know her personally, but she’s someone I want to
know. Her work is beautiful and you can tell from her posts on Facebook and blog that
she has an amazing heart. This industry can be rough, tough and ugly, but she brings
beauty into it with her spirit.
Q: What is your second most used piece of equipment other than your camera and lenses?
My heart. Not to sound too philosophical, but my heart motivates everything I do. I truly
want to know people and give them an experience that they walk away feeling beautiful,
important and special. I hope that through their photographs they feel even more
valuable as a person as they see the beauty in themselves.
Q: What is something you still want to learn about photography?
I love using off camera flash, but I want to MASTER it!
Q: What is your favorite strategy for editing a session (at a desk, in front of the TV with a laptop,
with tea, after the kids go to bed, etc…?)
My husband and I have a routine. Every night after a wedding and when I do a sneak
peek, he meets me at the door with 3 Ibuprofen, cozy clothes (pjs), my laptop and a
pillow. We almost always watch Downton Abbey as I spend a couple of hours getting
some pictures up on Facebook. On non-wedding sessions, I do a lot of editing in the
evening with a huge glass of ice tea!
Q: Are you a Mac or PC lover?
What’s a PC? No really, I don’t understand the question 😉
Q: What is your favorite part of preparing for the session?
Getting to know my clients. When we are comfortable with each other magic happens
during the session.
Q: What is the best advice you could give to photographers who are just starting out?
Study this industry. Listen to people who have been in the industry and don’t come
running out of the gate. Takes things slow and do it right. Have a business plan, get
legit, pay your taxes and charge appropriately.
Q: Describe the best part of your job.
Seeing the beauty in people.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kelly-Kirksey-Photographer/8770781658