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Snap Maven: Feature Friday with Kelly Tonks Photography LLC!

Kelly Tonks of Kelly Tonks Photography LLC is the winner of last week's 'shadows and light' challenge. Read on to find out how she describes her style, and what she carries in her camera bag!

1. Please tell us about yourself…

I’m a preschool teacher and mother of two teenage sons, aged 19 and 14. The preschool I work at is art based and patterned after Reggio Emilia. It’s where I started my serious photography practice about 5 years ago. I enjoy drinking good coffee and watching movies.

2. Can you describe your style in 3 words? Why those words?

Luminescent, tender, genuine. I’m inspired largely by light and plan my shoots around the light and finding different qualities and how it affects the mood of a shot. Tender because I love people and I work to develop a trust with my subjects that allows them to be vulnerable and I don’t treat that lightly. Genuine because once the trust is established it allows me to show them in an authentic way.

3. What sparked your passion for photography?

Shooting at the preschool and putting up a small exhibition of film images taken throughout the year. I borrowed a digital camera soon after and it was an inexpensive way for me to push my exposures and experiment in ways I hadn’t when shooting film. It sparked a desire to study digital skills and editing.

4. What's in your camera bag right now?

A Nikon D-700, a 50 mm 1.4, 35mm 1.4, an 85mm 1.4, 28mm 2.8.

5. What is your dream shoot or project?

I’d love to get my hands on an underwater housing. I’d also enjoy getting out and collaborating with other photographers I admire, but honestly I love my time behind the lens, so shooting is really always fun.

6. What are some of the misconceptions you had about photography and photographers at the beginning of your photography journey? Have they changed, and how?

I didn’t really have any conceptions about photography or photographers. Initially I was reluctant to define myself as a photographer, but after years of slow and careful study I feel I’ve grown into the title.

7. What advice would you give to newbie photographers? What advice do you wish you'd been given at the very beginning?

Don’t buy actions and learn how to edit yourself. Classes and workshops are really fun, but daily shooting will make the most difference. Enjoy the journey and focus on one skill at a time. I used a business mentor that I found through my local Better Business Bureau to help me before I officially launched Kelly Tonks Photography. I’ve found the business end a bit daunting because it is really very different than shooting for myself. I’d recommend building a strong professional support network.

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