© Kelly Ford, Round the Bend
Name: Kelly Ford
Country: United States
What drew you to photography?
I grew up in a small farming community in central Illinois. The land was fairly flat and featureless - filled primarily with corn and soybean fields, occasionally punctuated by small stands of trees. The images I experienced in magazines, created by photographers like David and Josef Muench, were awe-inspiring - introducing me to lands and scenes I'd never experienced. They became my way of virtually traveling the world, a temporary escape from my agricultural environs. For me, those photographs were much more than pretty pictures. Each was an experience - almost visceral. I imagined myself inside the image as my eye traveled the scene, taking in every detail. It was this deep connection to the photograph that ignited my desire to create my own images and physically experience those places I'd previously only know through photos.
© Kelly Ford, Route 66
Your website indicates you and Melinda work together. Can you describe your individual contributions to your collective work?
Melinda came to photography later in life than I did, yet she has progressed amazingly fast in a short period of time. We act as each other's assistant, reviewer, and erstwhile competitor. Since we are often on the same shoot together, we may come back with some similar images. So, we have an unofficial rule that the best image is the one that goes on the site. She's beaten me a few times. The friendly competition encourages us both and results in better images for our audience.
How would you best describe your photographic style?
My style is still evolving, but I love to emphasize texture and mood in my photographs because these are what typically draw me to make an image in the first place.
What stories do you wish to tell through your images?
I aim to tell the story of the scene before me - but not as a detached documentarian. There are two actors in every scene - the subject and the photographer. Whatever the subject may be, we come to it with our own preconceptions, prejudices, and experiences. Those, in turn, inform how we interpret the scene. My uncle used to always say: "It's not your point of view that matters, it's your view of the point". Each of us has our own unique view of the point which then shapes our point of view. My job as a photographer is to convey my view. What is my emotional reaction to the subject? How do my life experiences shape what I see and how do I communicate that reaction to the audience? The camera is just a tool with no emotion. Only by injecting myself into the image - from capture through editing and printing that the piece is infused with human perception and, I hope, becomes meaningful to those who view it.
From where do you draw your inspiration?
Although I primarily shoot landscapes, I draw inspiration from my wife. We spend more time together than most couples and this has given me the rare opportunity to see how her beauty manifests in myriad small ways. This has taught me a valuable lesson. Because of my relationship with Melinda, I've opened my eyes to those small details that tell her story. So, when I do a shoot, I try to develop a relationship with my subject, to open my eyes and really see what's before me and that makes all the difference.
What is your next project?
I am currently planning a trip to shoot the Palouse in Washington State. It has been getting a lot more attention from photographers in the last few years, but isn't over-shot. I've seen some amazingly diverse imagery of the area and want to see what stories it offers. I'm also working on light painting and hope to take my efforts out of the workshop and into the field in the next year.
For more of Kelly's work:
© Kelly Ford, Teapot Dome