My admiration for Kelli Boyd started almost two years before I ever met the bubbly beauty that I have come to adore beyond words. The first time I ever spotted the name Kelli Boyd was on the bottom of a blog post written by dear friend Emily McCarthy. The post included amazing photos and I remember thinking to myself how beautifully the photographer had captured Emily’s personality. It was just as I know her to be … full of life and joy and her photographer had nailed the images. They were bright and crisp and clean and had depth and character to them even though they were simply one dimensional objects. I was incredibly impressed and made a note to meet this amazing photographer one day.
Some time passed to last summer and a feature I wrote on Monica Lavin for my bar cart series. As I flipped through the drop box of photographs she sent to me I spotted the same characteristics in the photographs as I had seen months before, tons of character and life. They were images of a perfectly styled bar cart, but yet they were so much more. As I looked through the email with details about the photos that name popped up again … Kelli Boyd. I recall thinking how talented Kelli was and how she was able to capture so much more than just the subject of her photos. Once again I spotted the same something special and I knew I had to meet the darling photographer who’s work kept crossing my desk.
Fast forward to February 2017 when I finally had the pleasure of meeting the talented Kelli Boyd. She and I were both attending a dinner while attending The Southern C Summit and we had a chance to meet and chat. She was doing double duty of attending and working and it wasn’t until brunch the next day we truly had time to talk in depth. I could have stood with her and chatted all day. I immediately loved her style (we share a love of fashion) and I found her easy to talk to and get to know. She was everything I knew she would be and more and I adored her immediately.
Today I have the pleasure of sharing Kelli Boyd with you. You will immediately understand why she is beloved by so many. She is warm and funny and immensely talented. I absolutely loved this interview, it made me adore her even more if that is even possible!
First of all, tell me about Kelli Boyd. Where did you grow up and how did your childhood influence your life and your business today?
I am born and raised in good ole Savannah Georgia. I grew up in a small community called Isle of Hope. Growing up in a coastal town, my whole life revolved around the salty waters that surround us. I learned how to swim when I was 3 in a boat lift at a marina. Crabbing and eating boiled peanuts is something that I do once a week (I even freeze peanuts so I can have them all year round) and I have been going on sunset booze cruises every day since I was born. Documenting all of these things was/is something that I have always had a passion for. If it is looking through old photos of my grandparents’ grocery store on Isle of Hope to silly photos that I take with my phone of my friends’ children, I am always documenting or looking into the past through photos. My parents always had a camera around and I was the first to take photos and I never wanted to be in them and still don’t to this day. Now as a professional photographer all of these things are what I love to photograph…people celebrating, families gathering and of course the beautiful landscapes of the place I call home.
As a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
Growing up in Savannah we were ALWAYS doing something water related … ALWAYS and this included cleaning the boat EVERY weekend. Savannah waters are filled with these bottle nosed dolphins that I grew very fond of as a child. They are quite possibly the cutest things I have ever seen. When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up it was always “ I just want to swim with the dolphins”. I think a small part still holds true today. As my dad says “ It’s never too late to have a happy childhood”.
Did you always want to be a photographer?
Honestly, no. I knew that is was something that I enjoyed but never knew it was a possibility. It was more of a hobby. At the time, there wasn’t the movement that there is now to be whatever you want. I feel like it was always said but not to be taken too seriously. You were supposed to go to grade school, then college and get a business degree. In my mind that is what I thought was right.
When did you take your first memorable photograph?
I am a fashion lover at heart. I absolutely love clothes, shoes and handbags. More has always been more in this case. I used to have slumber parties at my house and I would put on these runway shows and I would be the photographer taking all of the photos. I would probably say the group photo of all of them at the end was my first and favorite of all.
What has your career path looked like and how did you get to the present day?
Even once I graduated high school I still wanted to “swim with the dolphins” and become a marine biologist. I started out attending Georgia Southern University to get my core classes complete . At the time I had the Hope Scholarship and my intent was the save money attending GSU and then I was going to transfer to College of Charleston to pursue my dolphin career. However, I grew fond of GSU and I got comfortable. I had great friends, I knew the campus, my family was 45 minutes away so I gave up on my pipe dream of marine biology and working at Sea World. From there I studied countless things trying to figure out what it was that I really liked. I landed in the school of business majoring in marketing and honestly couldn’t have been happier. It was an area of business that I didn’t find boring. It is ever changing with the new products, endless new people and teams involved and it was a perfect fit for me. I went on to graduate, move to Atlanta to work in a market research company that specialized in focus groups for new product development. I worked there for 4 years and moved back to Savannah because I truly missed being in a town close to the water. Boating and beach were all I knew and that is definitely not possible in the big city of Atlanta. From here I took a turn into the healthcare industry where we were responsible for setting up new markets in the middle east for nurses. I traveled once a quarter to visit (Dubai, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar) and to recruit nurses to come to the United States to work. The majority of these nurses were either Indian or Filipino. We were changing their lives and it was amazing. We provided them with testing, job placement, and green card status. Once the government stop issuing B-1 visas they were stuck in retrogression and quickly put a halt on our pipeline and I started seeking other work since I knew that there were going to be layoffs. I had a photographer approach me to work second shoot for her as she needed help. I thought oh this could be just what I was looking for. I worked for her part time and became a wine buyer for a local wine bar in town to fill the rest. Yep … avid collector of wine here!! Photography quickly became my world again and I gave up my wine career path to do photography full time and as they say the rest is history! I worked with the photographer for about 5 years before going out on my own. That was almost 7 years ago.
Anything you wish you had done along the way and didn’t do?
I don’t believe so. I feel like if one thing had been slightly different I wouldn’t have landed where I am today. I am a firm believer that your past shapes who you are and I feel you should be proud of it.
Share two people who have inspired your journey and why?
I would definitely say hands down my parents. They have always believed in me and pushed me to do my best. They are small business owners and have always told me that no matter what I do in life at the end make sure you go into business for yourself. So as scary as it was I did. Failure was not an option for me and I know when you give something 100 percent you can’t fail. Secondly, I would say my boss at the healthcare company. She was tough. When you were giving 100 percent she demanded 10 percent more and somehow she got it out of you. She sent timid, shy, little me to do speeches in front of the entire company to tell them about what our division was accomplishing(talk about terrifying). She sent me to Dubai alone for follow up trips for weeks at a time. I say all of this to tell you that she had more confidence in me than I had in myself. I didn’t think I was capable of doing all of these things but she knew at the end of the day that I would get it done. Looking back she was the best boss I ever had. Thanks Marie Malone!
Can you share a high point in your journey and what was that like for you?
The majority of my photography business is wedding photography. Hands down there is nothing more pleasing and special to me than being a part of someone’s wedding. They remember their day through your lens and there really is nothing much more rewarding than that. Well, and your photo being on the cover of the Wall Street Journal (above the fold) !!! Definitely my two highlights!
Your career takes you all over … where do you love to travel to for work?
Oh I love love to travel! I will say I shot a wedding in Italy a few years back and that was definitely up there! However, pretty much anywhere that is a new place for me. I love exploring new areas and getting inspiration.
You work with so many fun people, what is that like?
This is my favorite part of my job! Being with people and seeing their creative minds work is so fascinating. Although I work in the wedding world, I also work with larger brand partnerships. I see how people create technology to how earrings are made. There really is never a dull day in my world and it is ever changing and that is the best part!
What are your tips for subjects to get the best out of their time with a photographer?
I love capturing people’s true self. Sometimes that is harder than it seems. You know just act natural as this big black thing is in your face and you are thinking “does this shirt look ok, wonder what my hair looks like, man she is close with that lens, I bet I look fat, wonder if she can shoot down on me?” I would just say don’t take it so seriously, make sure you wear something that cinches your waistline and smile a great smile. I tend to act a little crazy so people are always laughing at me. AND if it really stresses you out, have a cocktail or two before!
Anything people shouldn’t do?
Don’t be late. Time is of the essence and I work around natural light so the sun waits for no one. Don’t expect a photographer to create the same photo that you saw on pinterest. Use pinterest for inspiration, not to copy. Don’t have a bad attitude. What I do is fun! Everyone should be in the right mind set when visiting a photographer.
What is your favorite way to unwind?
A sunset booze cruise is still the best after all these years!
Five must haves.
3 great friends that you can call at a moments notice and they will be there for you.
A beverage in hand at all times (flat white, water, coke zero, starbucks refreshers). I tend to typically have multiples at once.
A fabulous handbag (you know you deserve it so go get it!).
A great pair of jeans.
Some sort of Asian food once a week.
A good pair of heels! Sorry I have 6! (haha!!)
I use this a lot in business and in friendship. I feel like it sums up what I truly feel.
“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives. And for me that is you.”—JFK
Isn’t she so incredibly cool? I can tell you this with complete confidence. I do not love having photographs taken but it is part of what I do and so I do it. Kelli Boyd truly has a gift and loves what she does and she is one of two people who can make me feel completely comfortable being photographed. I call that something very special and I am blessed to not only have had two stories shot by her but also to have had the quality time with her during those shoots. She is just as kind and loving as I was sure she would be. I can recommend her services with five golden stars!
Thank you Kelli for agreeing to let me share more about you and to let me showcase some of your incredible work. You are truly talented and I am incredibly lucky to know you. xo