Photographer of the Month – Kelly Pape

© Kelly Pape

Darwin: Kelly, you seem to photograph almost everything. It’s often said that to be good you need to specialize, but your work shows that you can be really good and still shoot a variety of subjects. What are the benefits to creativity in being a generalist photographer?

Kelly: I love photography and the best way to learn it is to throw yourself into a variety of different situations and figure out how best to shoot it. For me it is about making exciting photographs regardless of the subject matter.  Every shoot requires the understanding of the location, assessing the light, finding good vantage points and being able to make quick decisions on camera settings.

The more I work in photography, the more completed images I see in my mind before taking the camera out of the bag. There has to be something special like a ray of light or contrasting tree line in which to start shooting. From there, in the field I determine whether it would work best as a black and white, HDR, adding a special effect or by taking several shots and stitching them together to create a pano. Each decision dictates how you shoot the image.

Darwin: You seem to have an ability to use the Orton Effect with a sensitive eye so that the technique enhances the photo without drawing your eye to the effect. Any hints on how you manage to control or blend the effect into your photos so well?

Kelly: Visually I enjoy the Orton Effect and read with interest when you recently featured Michael Orton on your blog. There is something about the dreamy, almost painterly feel that really appeals to me. Years ago I attended a Freeman Patterson and Andre Gallant workshop where this technique was first shown to me.  Andre’s method was taking a shot in focus and overexposed by 2 stops and the second one slightly out of focus and overexposed by one stop and sandwiching them together. Today there are many plug-ins that can give you that desired result.

Darwin: Recently you have delved into the world of commercial photography by doing some commercial shoots and also by making prints for décor. Do you enjoy doing photography commercially or have you found it stifles your creativity and personal vision?

Kelly: One of the areas that I have been shooting lately is real estate photography which requires capturing the architecture as accurately as possible while maintaining good composition. It is mostly documentary shooting and doesn’t require a lot of creativity. Another project right now is supplying several images for a Showhome as part of a fund raising event. That is more challenging as you have specific spaces that need to be filled by sometimes a list from the client of miscellaneous shots from your website. Trying to put together a theme, enlarge the photos to fit different frame sizes and do it all within a deadline can be stifling. Whatever the job is, I always look at it as a way to challenge myself and improve.

Darwin: You are an active member of a camera club; for you what are the benefits to being part of a camera club. Any drawbacks?

Kelly: About 26 years ago, I was one of the few members in our camera club and we shot slides exclusively. Work commitments forced me to quit for a number of years and now I am back as an active member for the past 7 years and taken on various director roles. The benefits of being part of a club are every week you pick up something new as well as get exposed to a variety of ideas and styles. Clubs can also bring in great speakers like Darwin and Sam 🙂  Last year our club grew to 100 members and each member brings their own world of creativity.

Darwin: Many women that are nature photographers find it scary to shoot alone (few are worried about nature per sae but more about the ‘bad’ nature of other humans). Do you find that as a woman, you seek safety in numbers for photography or do you go out and photograph on your own?

Kelly: I have no problem going out on my own and dusting up the gravel roads. When I have a couple of hours to spare, you will find me off exploring new territories. Having said that, I am very aware of my surroundings and try not to get myself into difficult situations. A lot of times you find yourself outside, alone in the dark, which requires you to be hyper sensitive to what is nearby.

Having other people around definitely allows me to be more at ease and enjoy the camaraderie of others. There is something to be said for having a planned outing which forces me to get out the door in the freezing cold where I might otherwise not bother and miss the best light. The flip side is you are then dependent on other people’s schedules and preferences for shoot locations. Either way… just get out and shoot!!

You can find Kelly on the web at:

© Kelly Pape

© Kelly Pape

© Kelly Pape

© Kelly Pape

© Kelly Pape

© Kelly Pape

© Kelly Pape

© Kelly Pape

© Kelly Pape


4 Responses to “Photographer of the Month – Kelly Pape”

  1. Perhaps you could mention some of the many plug-ins.

  2. Cheryl Christian Says:

    I have been a big fan of the photography by Kelly Pape. I have been following her career in photography and congratulate her for works featured in magazines, books and newspaper articles.

  3. Great work, Kelly! You are a strong shooter with a variety of subject matter being no match for your lens.

  4. As one of Kelly’s oldest friends, I can honestly say that Kelly has had a keen sense of the aesthetic in whatever she photographs. No matter the subject matter. In my opinion, that cannot be taught, you either have it or you don’t and my beautiful friend has always had it! Bravo Kelly, keep up the great work.

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