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Meet Kelly Thompson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kelly Thompson.

Kelly, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Everything I know about photography can be traced back to a naked yard goddess masquerading as a tree. I’m grateful to her. She renewed my curiosity and pulled me out of my anxious collegiate head and into my old Athens, GA yard where I literally and figuratively saw the light during a dark time when I was incapable of authentically being it. My lady tree filled numerous rolls of film and grounded me in roots of creativity that would eventually branch out into community courses, photo groups, exhibits, and concerts.

I began regularly participating in juried exhibits and selling my fine art photography about 13 years ago. Since my camera had already become an extra appendage by then, it felt easy and natural to combine it with my love of music and take it with me to concerts. There have been many. I primarily have a former job at Delta Airlines, bags of disposable cameras, and the likes of Duran Duran to thank for that.

I transitioned from casually shooting bands for fun into a more intentional approach that finally solidified about three years ago. I wanted to reconnect with my cousin DeWitt and learned he was playing in a band called Last Chance Riders. My decision to just show up and shoot their upcoming gig was a significant turning point both personally and creatively. I hit it off with the band members and they really liked my work. They officially brought me on board as their band photographer shortly thereafter, and since then I’ve been riding in gratitude with this amazing family twice over.

My father, DeWitt’s uncle and also a musician, had declining health when I began working for Last Chance Riders and was moved to a care facility where he would eventually begin playing banjo again. I wholeheartedly believe that music saved my dad’s life and stabilized his health, and I know without a doubt that it has filled his heart with joy in its purest form.

Documenting my father’s passion for music has unveiled an emotional vulnerability in both of us that brings home the value of being fully invested in the present moment, and I do my best to remain in this mindful headspace, not only with my dad but with everyone–clients and personal relationships alike.

Has it been a smooth road?
Right now, I’m working very hard to build a brand and clarify my intentions. Once I move beyond that process, I’m sure I’ll have challenges to work through. I’m just not sure what they are yet.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I’m a freelance photographer specializing in live music and band photography. I work regularly with several Atlanta bands and musicians and am continually widening my network. I am proud of the relationships I cultivate and the comfort and trust that grow from that foundation.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I’m in the process of soul searching and formalizing my plans. My love for live music and fine art took me down two very distinct paths that are beginning to merge in exciting ways. So, there is this really beautiful synergy going on right now where many things are coming together, and I’m looking forward to how this part of my story will unfold. I finally feel like it’s my time.

I am honored to be included in the WOMEN IN FOCUS XXVI exhibit juried by Dr. Sarah Kennel, the new Donald and Marilyn Keough Family curator of photography at the High Museum of Art. I have two photographs in the show: Way Out and Last Chance Riders. The exhibit is at Mason Fine Art and will run from November 14th through December 28th as part of ATLANTA CELEBRATES PHOTOGRAPHY.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Hector Amador (Profile), Kelly Thompson Photography

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