Keliy told me to sit still for fourteen seconds. I could blink, but not move my eyeballs or body. She told me to stay serious. A serious gesture can be held better than a smile. A metal brace at the base of my skull kept my head still.
This is how Keliy photographs the people she meets. It’s an unforgiving process: with homemade and expensive chemicals, heavy large-format cameras, an exposure time that feels like eternity to an average photographer. She is practiced at her craft, among the best wet-plate collodian photographers in the world.
Her list of awards and accomplishments is impressive and lengthy, but the most inspiring aspects of Keliy are her willingness to share her creative process, her quiet humility, and her absolute devotion her art.
What have you learned from working with alternative processes? What does this type of work mean to you?
I have worked with a number of historic processes--cyanotype, van dyke brown printing, wet plate collodion--and in color film, which I guess is becoming a historic process now, too. I like to be able to work in a range of photographic mediums. It gives me options to find the best way to represent a person or an idea.
Tell me about a moment of clarity in your life.
In terms of my work, when I finished installing my undergraduate thesis project--5 different photographic and sculptural projects, some of which I had worked on for over 2 years, exhibited together in a large gallery space--I realized that I wouldn't be happy doing anything else. I could see what I had made, what I wanted to become, where I wanted to go with my work.
Tell me about a time you felt loved or loved someone/something.
Two months into dating, 13 years ago, my (now) husband had been walking across campus really early one morning and came to wake me up. I followed him (a bit reluctantly) out into a dewy field of tall grass. The sun was just rising and fog was lifting from the grass. "I had to share this with you," he said.
What is important to you?
I highly value time to work, time to focus on making images without distractions. I also really care about spending time with or talking or skyping with family and friends.
|On the left: the image as seen through the large format camera. On the right: the image in it's final developing stage.|
What do you want?
I want to still be making art in 40, 50 years, and I hope to continue to eek out a living from it.Teaching photography is really important to me as well, and I hope to continue to become a better teacher.
What is it like to be you?
It's not particularly exciting. I'm my own worst critic and I often feel that I'm not doing enough to make my art or promote it. Someone in my shoes would feel a lot of self-imposed pressure, I think.
To see more of Keliy's work, click here.