10 minutes with Drew Kelly
When did you first know that you wanted to be a photographer? And if not a photographer, what other careers would you have possibly gone into?
Photography became an obsession for me while I was studying something else in college. The last 2 years there, I managed to get a spot in a few photography classes, this was difficult for students who weren’t in the Art department. I just found myself spending all my time on photography and less on other things. When I got out of school, I had no idea how a photographer made a living. It was before you Googled everything, and I remember moving back to San Francisco and actually getting a yellow pages at a pay phone and looking up “photography” and driving to each business that was listed and dropping off a resume. I was so clueless about it all when I look back on it now. If I wasn’t a photographer, I think I would enjoy landscape architecture.
I love your photos in Vishwakarma Blues taken in India over a three week period. Are you currently working on any personal projects?
I have a couple projects that I’ve been following on and off for a couple years now. One has to do with the decline of the salmon population in Northern California and another on the effects of drought on central valley towns.
The video you did on the Dwell Flux Chair is really fun. Is shooting video something you are doing more of on assignments? How do you feel about being asked to cover both at a shoot?
I have been doing a bit of video. These days it seems like every photo editor is interested in it and are trying to find some way to use it. I really enjoy it but it is a challenge to fit it into a traditional still photo shoot and it doesn’t seem like everyone has come up with a proper way to implement it into publications or to adequately bill for it.
If you could go back 10 years, what advice would you give yourself?
Oh I think about this too often. I was so free and clear of responsibility back then. I would make sure that I took advantage of absolutely every opportunity to pour myself into work. When you’re young and starting out, you can be totally selfish with your time and that’s such a luxury these days.
Any words of wisdom for the up and comers?
Well I guess the best advice I can give is to do define your style, do what you do, and do it all the time. There’s always going to be someone else who does something differently than you, leave that to them. You really need to have a look that’s consistent so that editors are going to remember you.
(Drew is based in San Francisco. See more of his work, here.)