I don’t have the advantage of Kelly’s memory box to learn what six or eight year old Kelly chose as her future career, so I have to fast forward to year sixteen—the summer of the Paris trip.
Kelly, you approached Dad and me about spending five weeks studying abroad with the American University in Paris. The deal we struck was that while we would help with some expenses, you were responsible for the majority of the cost. You spent about a year working as a babysitting machine. You found a few clients who liked to go out A LOT, and you rarely socialized with your friends that year. You had a goal and you worked hard to reach it.
I researched the program to be certain you were chaperoned enough to make Dad and I comfortable, so in late June 2001, you packed your bags and we drove you to JFK airport. As your mom, it was not easy to send you to Europe alone, but you lived up to your end of the bargain in raising the money, proving yourself to be responsible and worthy of the experience.
You took two courses while in the City of Lights—The History of Fashion and Photography in Paris— and came home hooked on photography. Armed with a heavy dinosaur of a 35 mm camera that belonged to Dad’s father, you learned how to take and develop film pictures. I believe you set up a dark room in the bathroom of the hotel where the students were housed.
What a wonderful place to learn that craft! When you returned home, one month before 9-11, you exited the plane with confidence, very thin from walking everywhere, and with a red tint in your hair which we didn’t notice until later that day.
During your final two years in high school, you exhausted the photography curriculum at your school. You entered photography contests, and much to our amusement, you won an award for a photo of the garbage under our pool deck. I guess someone thought it was very artsy!
When you left for college and decided to study journalism, Dad and I were convinced you would be traveling the world as a photojournalist for a magazine like National Geographic. This prediction grew stronger when you became a photographer for the Daily Gamecock, allowing you to take pictures of entertainers, politicians and sports figures such as Billy Joel, John Mayer, President Obama, John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Pete Rose, and the Gamecock football games. (Knowing you were running down the field chasing the perfect shot, I worried that you would get smashed by a big tight end.)
Meeting your future husband squashed your traveling-the-world career. (Did you ever consider it, or was it just an unwarranted fear on our part?) Instead, you launched your business, taking beautiful pictures of weddings, graduations, families, and newborn babies. Like your sisters, you have a great work ethic resulting in many happy customers and referrals to their friends.
Dad and I do not have to worry about you traveling to the Amazon jungle or the African Serengeti. Still, we couldn’t help being anxious when you drove off to shoot a wedding during our “Thousand-Year Storm.” You must understand our angst now that you are a parent. So keep up the good work. Perhaps someday our coffee table will contain a book of your photos including the garbage under the deck.
The photos below are not the best but are among your first. All your fans are familiar with the beauty of your work now, but I thought it would be nice to show how it all began.