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Conversations with Kersey Caldwell

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kersey Caldwell.

Hi Kersey, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
In 2012, I attended The Art Institute of Virginia Beach and studied 2D animation. I just knew I was going to work for Dreamworks or Illumination. Still, I realized my passion for drawing was not strong enough to pursue a career in drawing for life, so I spoke with my academic advisor. She suggested I get my degree in Photographic Imaging. I enjoyed taking pictures on my phone and doing, what are now very cringy, trendy edits to my images. Fast forward about 2.5 years, I got a job as a Nikon Sales Expert at Best Buy. They sent me to training in Scottsdale, AZ, to learn all about cameras, photography, and models from some of the top experts in photography. Shortly after I finished training, I shot my first wedding, and the floodgates opened. I was hooked on photography. One of my nearest and dearest friends Jenny McGregor and I started hosting photography meet-ups where creatives of all kinds could come together. Expand their brand while networking and creating amazing art with other creatives they may have or had not met before through social media or even knew in their area, and that’s how I built my brand and name.

We all face challenges, but looking back, would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It has not been smooth at all. This industry is all about thick skin and understanding it’s a dog-eat-dog world. We all want to be the most booked, the most noticed, the most respected, and along the way, you tend to compare yourself to those who you feel are “better” than you, so you doubt yourself; that’s what happened with me. I was constantly comparing myself to others which made me feel like I was stagnant; not only that soon as I became a full-time photographer, it became about keeping my business afloat. My time was all invested in my business, and I lost my relationship due to how busy I was and still am. It’s not an easy road; anyone who believes it’s an easy road must have the cheat code to this journey.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I am a photographer, no category, just a photographer. I mainly specialize in portrait photography; one of my claims to fame is that I don’t just capture a nice outfit or pose. I capture personality, which I self-proclaimed the name “The Personality Photographer” because I believe that to capture someone in a photo truly, they should see themselves on the inside and shine on the outside. That’s always key; everyone is photogenic. You have to step into their world instead of forcing them outside of it. The one thing I am most proud of is my meet-ups, Visual Artists Meet Up, aka VAMU. They truly opened my eyes to how creative this industry is, and seeing others find joy in being able to enter a haven and create freely is always so rewarding. Lastly, my energy and my personality set me apart from others. I’m the photographer on the dancer’s floor, dancing with the guest during weddings, putting the camera down, and talking to the toddler about themselves. I pride myself on being cordial with my clients enough that we have a sense of security that we can make the entire process smoother knowing we are all comfortable in each other’s spaces.

The crisis has affected us all in different ways. How has it affected you, and any important lessons or epiphanies you can share with us?
The covid-19 pandemic taught me a valuable lesson, always have multiple ways to utilize your craft to generate more income that’s not face-to-face encounters if your business mainly surrounds those types of encounters. I started editing different creatives’ selfies for a fee to keep some income. Still, the pandemic also taught me that downtime is time to grow, whether learning a new skill, learning new business practice, or just researching and adding education to your mental. Those who took the quarantine time and truly sharpened their skills and mind are thriving right now, and it shows; always learn even when you can’t practice your craft due to a pandemic or other instances that harbors you from face-to-face encounters.

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