Today we’d like to introduce you to Kelly Stark.
Kelly, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I have been interested in Photography since I was 10 years old. I would take my desk chairs, throw a comforter over the back and force my sister to pose for my “portraits!” When I was able to buy a Nikon camera around 21, I took pictures of everything! I thought I was the most talented photographer— snapping shots on “automatic” mode. One December afternoon, I grabbed my camera and took pictures of my husband and daughter playing in the snow. I had this conversation with my husband about how I only wanted to do photography– paid or not. I felt like I enjoyed watching people in happy moments. Not posed. Not fake. I liked seeing people happy with their own people.
I started offering free sessions to drum up referrals. I did Groupons at a dirt cheap price for experience, and then I started taking classes. I started with Basic Manual workshops, and I felt like I did a great job in the presence of professionals. Then I was a major wreck taking shots on my own. I would watch YouTube for hours and practice, practice and practice more. I took 10,000 pictures of my daughter playing, posing, being silly or capturing her in her element. I started to get the hang of manual and my images greatly improved! I then, started taking OCF lighting courses, hiring professional models and the referrals came pouring in to set up sessions. After I felt like I had started a solid business in Lubbock– I moved to Fort Worth. I was devastated. I had clients calling and asking me to come back. I was contemplating giving up the professional gig of photography because it’s really tough starting from scratch. I didn’t know anyone, and I was now competing with other photographers in the Metroplex. I had someone find me online, and she booked me three sessions back to back. I posted her session, and I had a flood of calls from her friends and coworkers who scheduled sessions. Again, the referrals started working in my favor, and I built up a really strong clientele.
I’ve been traveling a lot more to Houston, Lubbock and Lantana area to do more sessions. I’m learning how to improve my photography every day! I love challenging myself to produce more dramatic/dynamic images. I’m willing to go the extra mile to give people exactly what they envision while surprising them with my own ideas and techniques!
Has it been a smooth road?
The main struggle has been the transition from Lubbock to DFW. Starting with ZERO clients is tough! There’s a not a lot of room to grow in a saturated market! My professional background has been in marketing, so I went back to my roots and started marketing from the ground up. I think I’ve proven to DFW that I’m a serious photographer. I make sure all the details are covered. I love what I do, so my prices tend to be more “realistic” in my opinion compared to a lot of other photographers I see. I do photography because I love it. It take a lot of hours to do what I do, and I’m not looking to rob a client to get them 10-15 pictures. That’s not good business, so I offer really competitive packages so everyone can afford capturing their personal moments.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Kelly Stark Photography story. Tell us more about the business.
I am the owner of Kelly Stark Photography. I specialize in Outdoor Photography and Portraits, but nowadays, I find myself traveling to do head shots, corporate shots, real estate photography, engagement sessions, kid birthdays and unconventional birthday shoots. I am most proud of the fact that I’ve spent very little on advertising because people spend their time referring me. That’s the biggest compliment you can get in any business! The fact that people trust me to take their holiday pictures, family portraits, school pictures and more— it’s the best compliment ever!
What sets me apart for other photographers is that I care about the experience. I talk with clients before a shoot. I bring or buy props that I think add to their vision. I travel to their favorite parks, backyard or their stomping grounds because those are the places they feel like themselves. I pay attention to the details and conversations. That’s how I get some of the beautiful, sentimental shots that I take. It’s taking time to notice what’s beautiful!
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
The one solid industry is photography. Everyone needs pictures. It’s what makes history. The beautiful thing about my industry is that it’s always growing and it gets more challenging. It makes photographers grow in their skill set, and we have to be stronger photographers. I love that our industry coupled with time forces us to learn more and perform better.
- $90 20 minutes Mini Session with 8 edited images
- $150 50 minute Session with 15 edited images
- I offer specials starting at $50 and I also do giveaways and “givebacks” where I do free sessions in exchange for their time
- Website: www.KellyStarkPhotography.com
- Phone: 9792187921
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kellystarkphotography
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/KellyStarkPhotography
Kelly Stark Photography