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Travel | Five Highlights for Five Years

On December 6, 2018, I celebrated 5 years of Kelly Kester Photography! I’ll be spending the next few weeks reflecting on five highlights in my five years of business.


Travel and photography go together like peanut butter and jelly, right? It’s funny, but thinking back I realize that I discovered both about the same time (travel and photography that is…PB&J is gross.). I took my first photography class in the spring of my junior year at SUNY Geneseo, and enjoyed it so much that I packed my camera in my suitcase that summer when I headed to London for an internship. While I’ve never really been into landscapes or architecture, how could I resist when I was in as beautiful a place as London? That summer, when I wasn’t working or exploring the local pubs, I was getting to know London from behind the lens. Two of my favorite days from that trip included: meeting up in Brussels with a friend from my photography class who was studying at Oxford at the time and spending the day eating waffles and photographing everything we could; and a couple weeks later when my aunt and brother came to visit me with a Canon Rebel in tow. I packed my film SLR and my brother manned the Rebel and we spent hours crisscrossing the Millennium Bridge and photographing the sights. Can you think of a more perfect way to spend a day abroad?

Brussels 2004 (I didn’t say they were  good  photos…)

Brussels 2004 (I didn’t say they were good photos…)

Summer in London, 2004

Summer in London, 2004

While I never set out to be a traveling photographer, it’s been amazing over the years to see where my camera has taken me. I’ve enjoyed visiting St. Louis a few times for mentoring and conferences - and you might be saying “St. Louis? Not the most glamorous place to travel…”. But you may look at it differently from behind the lens, and especially if you’re staying at a hotel as breathtaking as the St. Louis Union Station.

Union Station.jpg

Photography education has also landed me in Las Vegas a couple of times, and my most recent trip had me photographing models on the roof of the LINQ and in a nearby desert dry lake bed. That was a dirty, but STUNNING experience!

LINQ Rooftop in Las Vegas, 2017

LINQ Rooftop in Las Vegas, 2017

Dry Lake Bed, Nevada, 2017

Dry Lake Bed, Nevada, 2017

Dry Lake Bed, Nevada, 2017

Dry Lake Bed, Nevada, 2017

My favorite trip though had to be in the spring of 2017, when my husband and I both had the extraordinary privilege of traveling to Punta Cana to photograph a wedding (you’ll hear more about that in a later post). I spent most of that trip (while not photographing a wedding or in the pool enjoying the most glorious invention- the swim-up bar) looking out at the ocean and trying not to cry at how happy I felt.

Pure bliss in Punta Cana

Pure bliss in Punta Cana

Thank you Mike & Melissa for the trip of a lifetime!

Thank you Mike & Melissa for the trip of a lifetime!

When I started this business 5 years ago, I could never have dreamed about where my camera would take me - physically take me. As I look to the future, I can now dream a little bigger - where will we go next? My immediate goal is Colorado and Arizona for working trips where I can also visit family and friends. And of course I’m dying to go back to Europe (who’s game to join me for some portraits on that one?!),. But if there’s anything I’ve learned from the past 5 years it’s to not limit myself. I’m staying open to all possibilities, and feeling so excited to see where my camera and I will go next, and what we can create together.

Personal

It's Been a Little Nuts

Today I wanted to pop in with a quick update, because as much as I love this space and the storytelling I do here, sometimes it's easy to get bogged down with the enormity of writing a post. Before you know it, 6 weeks of radio silence have gone by and the task of what-to-post-next seems even bigger. So let's break the ice, shall we? Here's what I've been up to lately (illustrated with mostly iPhone photos, because sometimes the best camera you have is the one you happen to have with you).

  • Fighting germs. If I had to describe the month of August in one word, it'd be SICK, all caps. I had exactly ten healthy days the entire month, and the rest of the time was spent fighting two colds, a sinus infection, and a lingering asthmatic cough (still working on that one). It was the kind of sick where you pretty much can only get off the couch to get tea and tissue refills, and the strain of that exertion leaves you with a twenty minute coughing fit. I tend to be a workaholic, so if I was looking at this optimistically I could say that at least I got to take some time off of work, right?
  • Getting Healthy. Pretty much since my daughter was born 3 years ago I've been struggling to get "back on track" with little success. In July my friend and former employer Natalie invited me to take part in a healthy habits challenge among her and her staff members, to (hopefully) encourage us to eat right, exercise and live a healthy life. I'm not sure if it was the cash prize or the spirit of competition, but this challenge has really helped motivate me to stay healthy (at least to the extent I can control it - sickness aside). The challenge ends on Saturday and I'm currently neck-in-neck with another girl for the lead. Today I was able to wear a pair of jeans that haven't fit since before I had my daughter, so I guess I'm already a winner in one way... but send me healthy and motivating vibes so I can stay the course and win !
  • Sending my family off to school. My husband is a teacher, so every August and September things get a little crazy as we wind down summer and try to get a new routine established for the new school year. This year though, my husband wasn't the only one going back to school. Our daughter Claire started preschool! We are all SO, SO READY for this! She's a very social little girl, and loves to meet new kids and adults alike, so we knew preschool would be a great thing for her. Plus - two mornings a week of dedicated work time ALONE in my house?? I will totally take it.
  • Making food. I love to cook, and in the past couple of years I've started experimenting with canning. I've made tomato sauce, jams, jellies, salsas and tons of pickles with lots of success. I had my first failure though this year when I decided to make my husband's grandmother's famous 14-Day Sweet Pickles. I was sick as a dog but the cucumbers were fresh, so I had to act. Well in my fevered state, I forgot one of the most vital ingredients to pickles - salt. I discovered this when I pulled the lid off the pickle bucket after a week and was greeted with the most rancid smell of my life and inch-thick mold sitting on top of mushy cucumbers. PICKLE FAIL. Once I recovered, I tried again with a new batch of cucumbers... and definitely remembered the salt this time. 
  • Drafting my fantasy football teams. I play in two leagues, one run by my brother and one run by my dude friend from high school, so each year there is a lot of pressure for me to prove myself worthy to the guys. I'm really happy with one of my teams, maybe not so much with the other. Any fantasy football geniuses out there? Let's talk. I NEED to win at least one of my leagues this year!
  • Making big plans, and even following through a little. I love being introspective and setting goals, but sometimes struggle with the follow-through of actually accomplishing those goals. In chatting with another photographer friend, Mary Dougherty, about this, she recommended checking out Powersheets. I've been using the Powersheets for two months now to help me delve into my goals and create actionable steps to help me reach them, and it's been incredible. I've loved using these so much that I've purchased sets for two different friends already!
  • Volunteering. This past weekend my husband and I had the chance to help out with the Finger Lakes Triathlon in Canandaigua, and we had SO MUCH FUN! We had to get up at 4am and spend hours standing in the cold and rain, but we hardly even felt it. Seeing the enthusiasm and dedication of all the athletes was an incredible sight and it almost made me want to try a triathlon! Almost...
Brown_Samantha_Newborn-42.jpg
  • Having awesome family time. We've had the opportunity to spend a lot of time at my parents' home this summer, which has been wonderful, and two opportunities to see my brother, his wife and two babies (they live downstate, so visits aren't plentiful). Claire loved playing with her one-year-old cousin, and I loved getting a ton of baby snuggles in with my newborn niece. 
Cashin_Family_2015-47.jpg
  • Shooting lots of portraits. Photography! That's what you come to this blog for, right?? I'm great at shooting portraits, but not always so great at sharing them. Even with my sickness I've managed to get a lot of portraits in this summer and work with so many wonderful families. I have tons that I'm dying to share with you in the upcoming weeks-  I just have to find the time to do it!
  • Getting pumped for Fall.  Autumn is my very favorite time of year, and also my busiest. I never like to say my portrait schedule is FULL, but it is pretty darn packed. I'm OK with that. I plan to fit a ton of work and a ton of fun into these next few months! Drop me a line if you'd like to get in on that.

What have you been up to this summer? Are you as pumped for Fall as I am? Any tips on how to keep my healthy living motivation up when I don't have the sweet lure of competition and winning cold hard cash to fall back on? Let me know what you've been up to, and I promise to be back soon!