Getting to know Kellie Penn!

Eleanor R.

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It’s Bex writing!

What can I say about Kellie that I have not said a million times over? Not much. I could sing her praises professionally and personally until the cows come home. (unless cows come home quickly… then that catch phrase does not apply!)

Kellie is my friend. Kellie is a very talented photographer. Kellie is an incredible mother and wife. Those are the plain and simple facts. Nice right? Well, let me elaborate for ya.

In 2009, I saw a post on a photography forum. It was a photographer from Decatur (spoiler alert… the photographer ends up being Kellie) who wanted some critique on one of her first weddings. When I saw the images I remember thinking to myself, “This CAN NOT BE ONE OF HER FIRST WEDDINGS! Surely she has shot tons of them. These are wonderful!!”

I was immediately jealous and yet drawn to her. I shared my thoughts with her on them… basically affirming them and her. When I found out she was a photographer who was less than two hours away, I asked if we could meet sometime. I wanted to start making friends with my peers in the industry and she seemed like a great photographer whom I shared a lot in common with.

Here is an image of our first maybe second meeting in 2009 (we are in the mall play area with our kids):

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God used that common interest between us to form something great. We shot sold out concerts together for WBGL radio (Kellie, me and Isreal Houghton):

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We traveled to workshops together: (St Louis, Sandy Puc Workshop)

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Nashville 2010, PPA Imaging USA:

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St Louis Photographers Shot Party with Jasmine Star: (Kellie, the awesome-Jessica Hollis and me)

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Mini Getaway to Pana, IL for Photographers “refresher”:

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She has accompanied me on long trips to do shoots in Chicago so I wouldn’t have to ride alone!

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We’ve taught workshops together: (2013 Cashing In Workshop-me, Holly Birch, Kellie and Kara Kamienski)

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…and so on and so on…

Somehow through all these years, I have realized that one of my main competitors, and yet most admired peers has somehow along the way become one of my best friends.

She photographed my sister’s wedding. She took my kids in for a playdate while my youngest was super sick. She has let me cry and call her frustrated with my life and my business. She is special and I know this post should primarily be about what a brilliant photographer she is and how you should gush over how talented she is… that comes without saying (FACT: You will gush.)

It’s just, I needed to take this opportunity to tell you all and especially her that I wouldn’t (I couldn’t) have chosen a better partner to collaborate with on one of my dreams.

If you have not heard Kellie’s story… about Miles, her baby boy. Ask her. It’s deeply personal but it is what defines who she is as a photographer and also a person. If you don’t know about her journey through adoption with her son Madden, ask her. She has been through the ringer and back. If you don’t know she is a pastor’s wife… that’s because you didn’t know pastor’s wives could be so non-judgemental and cool. If you didn’t know she is a featured speaker at this years first annual Click Away Conference in Salt Lake City Utah… she’ll tell you more about that too! She is a rockstar and she knows what she is doing folks!

Take some time to grab her attention while you are at RESET. She is definitely a person whom you should get to know and also a photographer who deserves the utmost respect in this industry because she is not only awesome at what she does but she knows a lot about it all too!

Kellie, I love ya.

Bex

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When did you launch your photography business?

I launched my business in the spring of 2008.  It was a dream that I never really thought would be a reality.  I just discovered this scrapbooking layout that I made back in May of 2007.  It was all just a dream that seemed so unattainable.  I am amazed at how God took this little dream and grew it into something greater than I could have ever imagined. (My face behind the camera is cracking me up…I promise I don’t always look constipated while using the camera! haha!)

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Are you Nikon or Canon? Mac or PC?

Canon & Mac!

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Favorite Lens & what’s in your bag?

Hmm…this is tough!  I’m going to say my 35 1.4L.  In my bag is my Canon 5d Mark III, my Mark II backup, (2) 600 ex-rt Speedlites, 35 1.4L, 24-70 2.8L, 50 1.2L, 70-200 2.8L IS, 85 1.8, 100mm macro

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Guilty Pleasure?

Hot wings, French fries, fried pickles, fried cauliflower…basically anything fried.  I’ve been eating much healthier this year but I still crave the bad stuff! Haha!

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Favorite movie or book?
I love the Hunger Games series.  Books & movies.  Rarely do I find a movie/book combo that I actually enjoy!

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Most embarrassing moment?
My life is made up of lots of these! Haha!!
Hmm…in high school I was at a church lock-in & my friend found a frog and put it in my face.  I screamed like a little girl & as I screamed, the frog peed into my mouth.  Totally disgusting and mortifying when you’re in high school.

In journalism class, I was giving an update on the yearbook & I was standing in front of the class looking all cute in my new wrap skirt.  As I was presenting, the skirt decided to unwrap itself & I had no idea.  The teacher jumped in front of me so I could fix my wardrobe malfunction. Haha!

I was a bridesmaid in a wedding & I fainted and knocked over the flower girl.  (I’m now obsessive on wedding days about making sure everyone is eating! Haha!)

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Did you ever think photography would be your career?

Nope.  I’ve always said I’d be a kindergarten teacher…ever since I was in kindergarten.  Went to college, got my degree, and then taught Kindergarten.  Started staying at home with my babies & then this became a dream that turned into a reality.  I can’t imagine teaching anymore.  I truly love this job.

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Favorite junk food?

Sour cream and onion Pringles & Dr. Pepper.

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If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

My husband and I work a lot with international students on campus and I would love to travel to their homelands & get to experience their cultures.

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If you could have any super power, which would you choose?

Time travel.  My mom passed away when I was in high school & my son passed away when he was 3 months old.  What I would give for more time with them.

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Any areas in your life that could use a “Reset?”

Absolutely!  This job has been a constant battle of finding balance between the job & my family.  I’ve made great strides this past two years.  But, I’d love to be less dependent on social media & more focused on life actually happening around me.

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What words of advice would you give to someone just starting out?

To remember that this incredible thing that we do is ultimately a job.  You can’t sacrifice your family for doing this job…even if you love it so much.  Balance, balance, balance.

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Favorite hot drink?

Starbucks Skinny Vanilla latte, or coffee from my Keurig with Girl Scouts Thin Mint Creamer

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What three words best describe your photography?

Modern. Clean. Relational.

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Wish you had more of…? Wish you had less of….?

Wish I had more hours in the day.  Wish I had less desire to eat junk food.  What aren’t carrots as yummy as a snickers bar?

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Any successes or failures in business that have shaped the way you run your business now?

Professionally…here’s my most embarrassing moment.  (I can’t believe I’m admitting to this publically.)  I was at home and my house was a mess, my hair was in a messy pony tale, I was in my bathrobe, and my kids were insane.  The door bell rang & I peeked out the window & thought it must be a church group so I decided to ignore the doorbell since I was a hot mess.  The door bell rang again so I decided to open the door…and when I opened it I remembered I had a wedding consult.  Um. HELLO.  I am standing here in my bathrobe & my house is trashed.  I ate humble pie, invited them in & had them have a seat on the couch while I ran and put on real clothes.  I was 400 shades of red in the face.  Somehow, they still decided to book me and I am so very grateful.  Every time I see her in public, we both still laugh about it.  (I then went out and bought a huge planner so that would never happen again. Lesson learned.)  I also stopped having wedding consults in my home. I needed to separate my home life/professional life.  And, I bought a new bathrobe.

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Do you feel like attending workshops/conferences are valuable?

Absolutely!  I can pinpoint specific things I’ve learned at each professional conference/workshop I’ve attended that have shaped my business into what it is now.  Education is invaluable & I am a firm believer that you can never stop learning.

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Favorite Software

Autoloader & Photomechanic.  Hours and hours of my life were given back to me using those programs.

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If you haven’t signed up for The Reset Conference yet…you need to hurry up and get registered!  Use coupon code KELLIE50 to save $50 on your registration!

 

 

Eleanor R.
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