Kelli Shannon (married name Kelli Enlow) is a “free spirit” who is all about variety and fun, with many talents and abilities. She embraces the “big picture” and her ambitions and adventures enhance and increase her energy.
With a drive for variety, Kelli Shannon has the urge to transcend limitations and to move beyond the restrictions to which most are bound. You might say that it is the force behind diversification – or maybe the spirit of adventure.
Kelli is a great lover of home and family. She has dedicated much of her life to her husband, children, and grandchildren. Now, at the age of 70, she is embracing her career as a photographer.
People are drawn to Kelli because she is extremely outgoing. The only thing that will dampen her enthusiasm is being stuck in a routine that gets in the way of her desire for freedom. Most of her work mirrors this adventurous spirit and drives her to explore new methods of photography.
KELLI: Well, in my 50s I started taking art classes for the first time ever, and loved every part of it. I found myself looking at everything differently. I noticed angles, light, reflections, composition, and practiced drawing using these art elements. While living and studying art in Hawaii, I would also take my little point and shoot camera out with a strong desire to capture the beauty I saw with my eyes. It was very disappointing – I couldn’t get any shots that represented what I was seeing. I took my point and shoot to Australia and a funny thing happened. My camera just broke during my last day there.
KELLI: Yes, I started with the Canon Rebel series and hired one of Hawaii’s best known photographers, Tracy Wright Corvo, to tutor me. After she helped me realize that I love to shoot macro, she loaned me her 100 mm/2.8 lens so I could get a grasp of how to shoot a flower and capture the pollen. Long story, long, I fell in love with macro and bought many books to learn how to shoot using manual settings, raw format, and how all the forms of light work together.
Then, when I thought she was just going to teach me how to take amazing pictures, she taught me how to learn my third language, Adobe Lightroom. We spent hours getting it set up and learning how to catalog each image.
KELLI: I got some good pictures with the Rebel because I had good lenses. After shooting thousands of them, I was ready for the big boy and that’s when I acquired the Canon 7D. I also joined a couple of photography clubs and went on many instructional photo shoots. I just wanted to practice, read, and learn from others. I became a voracious photographer.
KELLI: Yes, my first one was with McKinney Magazine. They had a competition and I submitted several images. Before I knew it, I got an invitation to come to the awards party and lo and behold, I had won First Place (it was a photo of my grandson, Bryson, as a baby), I also won Honorable Mention for a piece I called “Duck going into the new Realm” I also entered another competition that a McKinney design group sponsored and won 2nd place with my Hanauma Bay, Hawaii shot.
Kelli: Yes, I have been on McKinney Magazine’s cover five times and have had many other images published in their magazine. They hired me to take editorial or headshot type photographs for their various issues. I was also published in a small Hawaiian book by a writer’s organization featuring my Hanauma Bay photo.
Kelli: Funny how that came about. Shooting people really scared me. It put me into an entirely vulnerable position where I could be judged and have failure. I started by photographing family at events and then family portraits at a park. Mostly, I got great images and also learned a few lessons. Then my daughter surprised me and created an amazing website to help me launch a photography business. That helped me have more confidence in my ability and think about myself as more of a professional.
Kelli: Although some jobs were gratis and didn’t charge, like family and special friends, I also started charging for my services around 2010. I am constantly trying to learn and grow my understanding of light and how best to use the camera settings, especially when using my studio lights. As we know that the subjects being photographed can be nervous, so can the photographer. It’s really developing a relationship between the two and a trust. As the model sometimes feels, the camera is looking into their soul!
Kelli: For about 5 years I have dabbled in the creative photo world. I attended photography club workshops to play with some of their creative stagings and then I would go home and set up my own little creative methods. I have always enjoyed playing with water and oil, together and I discovered by adding other elements in various combinations some crazy and interesting things start to happen. There is an evolution to the subject matter as it changes form. Adding color helps showcase the image with both color & texture creating an out of this world type of shot. As I’ve continued to improve, I added some different ingredients to my set up and watched my materials transform right before my eyes.
Kelli: I’m working on a show at Ellison/Valencia Gallery in Bishop Arts as we speak. It will run in August 2019. Since it is my first gallery show, it’s both exciting and scary. As an artist, you just have to put yourself out there and pray others will like it and want to take it home. For years I have envisioned my flowers, koi fish and many other images on the walls of businesses, hospitals, restaurants as well as living rooms (or any room) of homes. Now with this abstract art, these images would fit anywhere to add color, design and make for a good conversation piece for the viewer. I think they really represent me as an artist because they vary from colorful and fun, or calm and serene, kind of like my personality.
Kelli: You mean, have I ever thought I could be an Annie Leibovitz in the photography world? One does have to dream! I’m not a cookie-cutter type of photographer. I want to capture something different when shooting people. I want to show them something about themselves they didn’t know was there. An example of what I mean is when I did a Boudoir session with a beautiful woman, she cried and told me she had never thought of herself as ‘beautiful’.
So whether I’m photographing people or feeding my own desire to create with my abstract work or macro nature shots, I love being in the Zone and exploring different worlds. I feel extremely fortunate to have finally found my passion. The fun part is, I have no idea how I will be perceived and if others will invest in my work. Not sure if that’s really the fun part….ha! Without my daughter, I would just be taking pictures and never would have imagined taking it to another level. I can’t thank her enough! She has helped me find a confidence and direction that will help me grow and seek different forms of expression with my medium.