We had the good fortune of connecting with Kelsey Willow and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kelsey, have you ever found yourself in a spot where you had to decide whether to give up or keep going? How did you make the choice?
The age old question that is always blindsiding me as a creative! For me, during hard seasons of life is when I most often question what I am doing and in the midst of stress I tend to want to give up. The truth is, creating is what always saves me. It is what always brings me joy and pulls me out of any funk I happen to be in. Deeper than that though, I think that at this point in my journey, giving up would mean stepping away from who I am meant to be and what I am meant to be doing. Connecting with people is something that gives me life. The goodness of rich conversations and intimate connections frozen in time with beautiful images is what keeps me going! I cannot imagine life without those connections and the joy that a beautiful image brings to my very soul. That. That is how I keep going. I never want to know life without the joy I feel behind that camera and the world I see through my lens. I think that if you hold passion for something, true passion, you should never give that up!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I really believe that cultivating a space for clients to have genuine experiences together during a session is priceless. Focusing on who I am with and being present in conversations leading up to and during my sessions takes intention and focus–but it gives me the opportunity to create beautifully candid moments. I recently was asked to join a team that does humanitarian work around the globe and to capture and document their work. The opportunity to connect people in the US with things that are going on around the world is a dream come true. I would have to say that starting my journey into photojournalism is something that makes me feel very proud. Being asked to be a part of a team like this and tell unheard stories is such an honor. Storytelling and connection are what I love about my art. Being able to look at a photo of complete strangers and feel what they feel is what draws me to photography. I do my best to show that through my work. If you can connect with my images I feel as though I am doing “it” right. Getting here was not easy. I have clawed my way to being a successful photographer through becoming a mother, losing a child, being a wife, working full time jobs and barely having the time or energy to pick up a camera. Being a full time photographer is one of my biggest accomplishments in life. As a creative it is very crucial to just keep going. Keep creating. Keep trying new things and growing your brand. As a mother, having the time to do this meant carving out time anywhere I could to grow my business. This journey has meant many late nights. There have been tears, laughter, celebrations, failures, and learning–so. much. learning. Most of all though, so much thankfulness along this road. I am a storyteller above all, as an introvert, being able to tell stories without words is a beautiful thing.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would definitely take them on a drive through Phantom Canyon. There is a bridge in that canyon that is seriously magical. We would have to hit up Street Car 520 and Coati for some amazing food, Cork and Cask for whisky and great conversation followed by a walk around downtown Colorado Springs to hit up some fun boutiques–Terra Verde and The Local Honey Collective are a few of my favorites. A day knocking around Manitou Springs is a must. Think early morning hike up the Incline followed by some yummy brunch at Adams Mountain Cafe. My favorite boutique in Manitou is La Henna Boheme. They have the best earrings! Almagre is a great place to have a delicious cocktail and they have the best charcuterie boards! I would have to take a drive through Garden of the Gods and hike Siamese Twins Trail before the week was over.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
When I was a little girl my dad was always taking pictures. I would watch and ask him a million questions. I was intrigued and completely smitten the first time that he handed me a 35mm and a fresh roll of film. We would walk through the forest while he taught me all about exposure, composition–the works. These times became something that I would long for. With every click of the shutter I fell more in love with the art of photography. The way the camera felt in my hand, the sound of the film winding for the next shot, the anticipation of what would be on that roll when I got it developed. All of it. My dad encouraged me every step of the way. He not only saw the way I lit up when I held a camera, he took the time to share his passion with me. Without his guidance and teaching I would not be the photographer I am today.
Headshot by Photography by Milana