December Customer Spotlight

Allow us to introduce you to our December Customer Spotlight: 

John Kelly 

John Kelly is a photographer who currently resides in Columbia, Missouri and is from St. Louis. He has been shopping at Creve Coeur Camera in both Columbia and St. Louis for many years. Tending to tackle some of the dirtiest jobs a photographer can undertake, he typically comes into the store with a very dirty camera. Well known for taking pictures of mud runs, Tough Mudder competitions and Mizzou sporting events, John is always willing to help aspiring shutterbugs.

1. What kind of gear do you use?

Camera body – D3s, D500, D750, D600, started borrowing a D5 from Nikon, really like, may have to buy it.
Lens –
14-24mm f/2.8, 35mm f/1.4, 50mm f/1.4, 70-200mm f/2.8, TC1.4III, sometimes borrow a 300mm f/2.8.
Flash –
Random speed lights.
Camera bag –
Think tank holsters and peak design capture pro clips

2. Which is your favorite lens? Why? 14-24mm f/2.8, it’s a perfect lens for any kind of shots when you can afford to get up real close to the action. It gives you really good background context even when the subject fills the frame. It’s also perfect for selfies.

3. When you go in one of your travels, what all you take with you? Why? Everything. Most of my work involves me traveling, so if I didn’t take it with me, I likely wouldn’t use it.

4. Among the gadgets that you own, is there something that you wish you hadn’t bought? Why? The d750 is an awesome camera, but it’s been broken more often than it’s been functioning. I’m pretty hard on my gear, so it just sits on the shelf 90% of the time waiting to be sold.

5. In the field, what are your settings?
Depends completely on what I’m shooting
Aperture –
Depends on situation, f/2-f/5.6
Shutter Speed –
at least 1/1000th of a second.
Depends on situation
White Balance –
Usually just auto
Focus – Manual/Auto
D9/D25 continuous AF, sometimes group area AF.
Image Format – RAW/JPEG
Usually RAW, but depends on situation

6. What kind of tools do you use for post processing? Explain your work flow.
 Photoshop and Lightroom. 90% of my work is photographing promotional material for endurance sporting events, such OCR like mud runs or triathlons. Most of those events want the entire promotional album within 24 hours, so I make presets before the event, and apply the same preset to all the photos. All I really do is go through in lightroom and level out the horizons and recompose if needed. Often I have to bring down the highlights. There isn’t much time to do heavy editing, but a handful of pictures get harder touch ups in PS.

7. How do you educate yourself to take better pictures?
I work with a great network of photographers around the country. Talking to them and shooting with them gains me lots of experience. I am also fortunate enough to coordinate the photography services for lots of events, meaning I get to look at many photographer’s photos whom are much better than me. This provides an excellent learning opportunity for myself.
The other 10% of my work is NCAA and professional sporting events. Usually those are minimal editing as well, and often are sent out unedited even.

8. Among your works, which one is your favorite? Why?
Usually, any time I can get a shot that hasn’t been done before at the event, or requires some sort of complication that most photographers wouldn’t get, that’s what makes me happy. Even if the photo is not artistically the best, if its unique and has an epic vibe to it, I’m pleased.

9. Whose work has influenced you most?
Any one that works hard for a shot is a good influence to me. I love seeing people work hard for a photo and then being satisfied when they get it. It’s a great influence.

10. What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?
Don’t waste your money on cheaper gear. You are eventually going to want the better gear, and you’ll lost more money buying and selling through cheaper gear than just initially shelling out for the right equipment. I wasted too much money playing around with cheaper gear that I all sold anyways.

11. What are your suggestions for becoming a photographer?
Buy a really good lens, and then buy a camera with what ever money is left over. Then take pictures of everything.

12. What inspires you?
I love a challenge. If a photo seems ridiculously complicated for no reason, I’m eager to try it. I become inspired by friendly competition. 

12. What makes the good picture stand out from the average?
For me, uniqueness is everything. A photograph can be perfectly composed, incredibly well lit, perfectly timed, and aesthetically pleasing, nice and sharp, but if I have seen similar photos before, I lose the ‘awe’ effect. Contrarily, if you have a good quality photo, but by no means perfect, but it’s unique and captures a moment or expression, that will stand out to me much more. 

13. What does photography mean to you?
It’s a perfect place to combine hobby and work together. It’s both a good break from my school responsibilities, a way to support myself, and a way to hang out with friends. I love taking friends to work with me and watching them become involved in photography as well. 

14. Locations and weather conditions seem to be a crucial aspect to a successful picture. How do you handle these unpredictable factors?
Part of my job involves making due with crappy conditions to get the photos regardless. I almost prefer poor weather as it gives a unique aspect to the photos and generally makes my photos more unique. Regarding locations, the events and sports are played at their respective grounds or stadiums. I can only wander around within that event area, so I am very limited on control over location.

15. Color vs. Black and White. Why one over the other, and is the photographic process different?
I really don’t have the artistic appreciation for black and white that many people have. If I saw color in real life, I want to see color in a photo. There are a handful of times when black and white is needed, but for the most part I personally think it’s overused.

See more of John’s photos on his facebook page or website!


Want to be the next featured Spotlight? Please see a sales associate at any of our Creve Coeur Camera locations for a chance to be our next Spotlighted customer.