KERLYN VAN GELDER - INTERVIEW
Tell us about yourself. What is your background, and how did you get into photography?
I am a wife and momma to a wild little boy! A long time ago I had a dream of working for National Geographic and my parents bought me my first ever dslr. A degree in the arts ultimately wasn't something I was able to pursue. Many moons later after my son was born, I decided to pick up my camera again and document his growth over the months that passed.
Even as a young baby we knew there was something a little different about our boy and around 2.5 years old he was officially diagnosed with autism. I was almost 1.5 years into my business and it was no longer easy documenting his life. That loss of photos quickly turned into a great need to express the way I felt about my son through visual art. This is where I saw my work begin to change. He is still non-verbal and doesn't understand alot of what I say, especially when I express how I feel. I want the photos I have of him and of us to be a visual representation of my feelings for him and my motherhood journey. He has become my biggest inspiration and I take that with me to my client sessions. I am so passionate about capturing visual art that tells the heart of our stories in an intimate and emotive way—a way that allows us to be ourselves and share our lives with an open heart.
Please provide us with a list of the gear you use on a regular basis:
Nikon D750 + Sigma Art 35mm
What does your post-production process look like?
I use Lightroom for all my editing and love to use the Tribe Archipelago presets with my work!
How has your photography style evolved over time?
Over the last three years my work has become more intimate and emotive, as I continually work to capture photos that not only express our feelings, but tell a piece of our stories.
What are your favourite tools for capturing, editing, and enhancing your photographs?
I love Nikon because I tend to shoot underexposed, the Sigma Art line, and primarily edit within Lightroom! Sometimes I'll take it into ASE for grain but not always. My favorite presets by the Tribe are LXC, LXCN, and Summit, although I have used many of the other packs throughout my work.
What is your greatest piece of advice for emerging photographers?
Find out your why and create for yourself! There's nothing better than creating from the heart. Also do this journey fully - go to a workshop, take a mentorship, learn the business side of photography, keep trying to find your unique style because you'll get there! You can run a successful business doing something you love, don't take shortcuts or live in fear of charging what you need to support yourself or your family.
What type of photography do you most enjoy?
What are you discouraged about in your work/business? What encourages you?
Currently, I'm discouraged how much time it takes to run a business and what that extra time means away from my family...but as each year passes I'm learning how to improve so I can try to find a place where I feel good. Does it exist? I don't know, but I'll keep trying.
Being able to show my son what I've created and built, and supporting my family encourages me. But also, every life breathing session encourages me to keep chasing those soulful moments.
When was a time you thought you would/had failed? How did you overcome it?
So I had a low time a couple weeks ago actually. My son has regressed with some behaviors and I felt as a parent I wasn't devoting enough time to him (I am in the midst of my busiest season, in my busiest year). I felt like I was dropping the ball at home, creatively unfocused, and emotionally drained. I shared that bit on my Instagram and was met with so much love.
I have made SO many amazing relationships in the photography community and with my clients. Many of them are now my closest friends and I am grateful to know so many incredible, uplifting, and strong women who are able to share their highs and lows with me.
What defines success for you as a photographer? If you never achieve that, will you still be satisfied with what you do?
Success for me means being fulfilled and happy with the art I'm creating for myself and others. How can I ever feel successful if I'm not happy with the work I'm creating?