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How I Got From There To Here

January 15, 2016

 

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I thought I would jump on the bandwagon for #fridayintroductions and tell you a bit more about myself! Hi! I’m Kelly, the owner of Kelly Grace Photography! I grew up in the small town of Neillsville, Wisconsin.. We are best known for having the largest talking cow, Chatty Belle, (She’s real—go ahead and look her up). I’ve been an entrepreneur ever since I can remember.. I used to collect rocks, paint them and sell them door-to-door.. I’d set up a lemonade stand at our local golf course and serve all the thirsty golfers, and I even sold tickets to our neighbors to watch my brother and his friend play basketball (I think they were 6 at the time)! I would do anything that I could to make a profit, so I think I was somewhat destined to own my own business.

Photography has always been a major part of my life. I’ve always had a camera since I can remember—(my mom said they gave me my first one at 3)—and I was always known by my family and friends to be the one carrying a camera. When I was in 9th grade, I saved up my money and bought my first 35mm Minolta camera off of E-bay. I started to experiment with my camera and photographed everything.. flowers, landscapes, people, events.. you name it… I was hooked! I think this is when I started to realize that I wanted to be a photographer of some sort. After that, I started to do everything that I could to learn more about photography and advance my skills. When I was a Junior in High School, I took a photography class that taught me how to use a DSLR camera, shoot in manual mode, and edit my images in Photoshop; I became the editor-in-chief and head photographer of our high school yearbook; and I did an internship at our local press taking photographs of various sporting events and local town events. My proudest moment was when our girls’ basketball team went to state basketball in Madison for the first time ever. Since I was interning for the Press, I was able to get a media pass and stand on the sidelines to shoot photographs for the paper! It was such an amazing opportunity!

After High School, I went on to college at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. I tried to be active in everything that I could.. I joined a sorority, ran track on the track team, and signed up for a few clubs! Initially, I declared a Business major with a Photojournalism minor.. I quickly realized that wasn’t the course I wanted to take. My second semester, I signed up for speech class because I wanted to get that one required credit out of the way. I seriously dreaded taking this class because I was always so shy and afraid to talk in front of people.. Little did I know this class would change my life forever! I fell in love with public speaking and learning about the different aspects of communication. I decided to change my major then and there to Communication! I absolutely loved all of my classes and I slowly came out of my shell… It truly helped me to branch out, become more confident and be the person I am today!

At the end of my Junior year of college I got the biggest surprise of my life: I became pregnant with my son, Owen. I didn’t know it at the time, but he was my blessing in disguise.. he was my motivation to do better in all aspects of my life: school, friendships, and family. I wanted to show him that anything is possible if you put your mind to it! With some help and support of many, I graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication when he was just one years old!

Now where does photography fit in? Let me back up just a little bit.. In 2008, my oldest brother got married in Lake Tahoe, CA. He knew my love for photography and asked me to take his wedding pictures. I was a little nervous, but was so excited! The church they got married at had a photographer included within their package so I was basically the second shooter. Regardless, I completely fell in love with shooting weddings! I thought that would be the end of it, but shortly after I had a classmate of mine ask me to do their wedding (shout out to Jason + Cara- you’re the best!)! I was in shock that they asked me, but they must have seen something in me that I didn’t! Every year after that, I kept getting more and more weddings just by word of mouth! In the summer of 2012, I did 12 weddings, worked 4 part-time jobs, was doing online photography school and was trying to raise my son. Talk about busy! Despite all the craziness, I decided that summer I wanted to do photography full-time.. I just didn’t know when! Ever since then I’ve been working my way slowly to taking this amazing job to full-time and I just know 2017 will be that year!

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A little extra about myself:

1) I’m only 4’10 and have been this height since I was in about 8th grade! I never allow my height to hinder my ability to shoot weddings, but my stand up stool is one of my best props!

2) I “met” my now husband in 2012 while I was bartending at our local country club… He is also originally from my home town (he’s about 5 years older and we grew up going to the same church) and he had just moved back from living in Colorado for 6 years.. We instantly hit it off and were engaged 6 months later in December 2012, we got married in May 2013 (small ceremony at the justice of the peace), bought a 120-year-old farm house in July 2013 (since my husband is a carpenter, his dream was always to buy an old farmhouse and renovate it), had our son, Benjamin, in August 2013, started renovating our home in September 2013 (we took it down to the studs and re-did EVERYTHING.. Friend me on Facebook and you can see the pictures!), lived with my parents for a year, lived in a camper for 3 months, had our LARGE wedding with all our family and friends on August 16, 2014, lived with his parents for another couple months, and FINALLY moved into our unfinished farmhouse in October 2014! We are currently still living through our renovation with the hopes of it being done soon! I mean if we can make it through all that, I think we can make it through just about anything!

3) I absolutely love to travel! I’ve been to many of the U.S. states and to a few countries in Europe: Switzerland, Spain, France and Germany! Man, when I travel, I just feel so inspired and so excited to create something beautiful. I’ve had the travel bug for quite a while and am anxious to photograph a destination wedding soon (if you are planning a destination wedding, get in touch.. I might just have a special rate for you!!). Lately, I’ve been dreaming about drinking wine, eating pasta and traveling around the rolling hills of Italy.. I hope to go there someday soon with my hubby!

4) My absolute favorite, FAVORITE band has to be The Beatles! I had the opportunity to see Paul McCartney in concert a few years ago in Chicago and it was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. My all time favorite song is “Let It Be” and when he started to sing that song.. I gotta be honest.. I broke down crying (so cliche!). There is something so special about hearing your favorite song–live–being sung by the person who wrote them. It was just such a surreal moment for me.. one I won’t ever forget!

5) Some of my favorite things in life: coffee, HGTV, singing, musicals, kettle corn popcorn, chips and salsa, and the Fall Season!

Whew! Have you made it this far? You have? Great! I’m so glad you’ve gotten to know me a little better! Alright, now it’s your turn! What’s something I might not know about you? Comment below!

Photographs by Emily Steffen and Katie Lamb Photography

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  1. Jenna Grap

    January 15th, 2016 at 9:06 am

    Kelly, I loved reading this! I admire you and your photography in every way. You already know I want to go into the photography field and after doing the wedding with you this fall, I know that’s one thing I definitely want to go into. Thank you for all your help. I’m trying to learn everything I can about photography so I to, can start my own business.

  2. Kelly Grace Photo

    January 15th, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    Awww! You are so sweet!! I’m so glad you were able to follow along and hopefully gained some valuable knowledge! You know I’m an open book if you have any questions at all on anything! xoxoxo

  3. Sheila Noordzy

    January 25th, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    Kelly I love your work! i read your story and I would LOVE to see the pics of the old farmhouse transformation! Where do I find the pics?

    Take care! Sheila

  4. Kelly Grace Photo

    January 25th, 2016 at 7:42 pm

    Hey Sheila!

    I’m hoping to share more of our house transformation on this blog in the upcoming weeks, but for now feel free to friend me on Facebook and look through my album!!