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KelseyWhittaker

WIFE, MOM, PHOTOGRAPHER

HOMETOWN

Sumner, Illinois

DRINKS OF CHOICE

sweet tea, white chocolate mocha, Crown and Coke

OBSESSIONS

Chris Stapleton, fast food, Friends the TV show, Hobby Lobby, basset hounds, thrift stores, antique photographs, Guy Fieri

FUN FACT

My husband and I had the cutest little backyard wedding during the start of the COVID pandemic in May of 2020. 

YEARS OF EXPERIENCE

10

A Bit About Me

Easily over half of my life has been dedicated to photography in a combination of ways - earning a four-year college degree, having hundreds of sessions over a span of ten years, shooting weddings, and most recently renovating a 1930s farm church into my dream studio. (learn more of my studio journey here) I could spend this entire section of my website talking about how much I love photography, but that's what you expect right? A photographer should love photography, and I do. I truly do. 

I never understood how there could ever be enough room in my heart for anything other than my family and photography until I met my husband Kale in 2017. We moved in together shortly after I came home from college, he proposed to me with pizza, we brought home a basset hound in January of 2020, we had a COVID wedding that May, and now we are that parents of a beautiful baby girl. (to make a beautifully long story short) We now live in the cutest little home right outside of town. I often catch myself in the simplest moment, soaking in every ounce of appreciation I can for the life I live. It's everything I ever wanted. Let's just say that my fourteen year old self would be smiling so big.

The Love Tat

On January 10, 2015, my world stopped spinning. I was hurt, confused, furious, and blinded by the idea that someone who meant so much could be swept away so quickly, so unexpectedly. That following year was a blur. It was so strange to adjust to a world without her, without something so sweet. College was mostly spent studying her loss through my art and photography - what loss meant, how I was affected by it, and how those I loved most were traumatized. Creating art was the only way I found myself to cope. Surprisingly, I found much comfort in studying old pictures - why we keep them and what they all meant. 

I could count on my hand the number of photos that I have of Teresa. From what I understood, she did not like pictures or she was having too much fun to worry about taking pictures. I wholeheartedly wish I could go back in time and change her mind. I wish she would have gotten more pictures taken. I wish I would have taken more. With what photos I do have, I am able to SEE her. I can hear her laugh more vividly when I look at them. I can witness her relationship with my mom and how happy they were. I am reminded of the incredible memories I made with her myself - of her beautiful smile, those late Friday night talks in my mom’s kitchen, and her obsession with Christmas. Every single picture that I have of Teresa is something I will never get rid of - no matter how torn, how ripped, how small or how blurry - I will never get rid of them. She’s gone, but she lives beautifully in these photographs. 

 

I have come to a realization that my dreams to take pictures for the rest of my life thrive primarily on this idea and these thoughts of her. I want to give everyone the chance to document their lives for those around them - kids, parents, aunts and uncles, friends, grandparents, anyone and everyone who knows them. I want to create a small narrative for every family that I encounter that tells the story of the time in their life that they wanted me to document. Most importantly, I want to make sure that everyone has plenty of pictures. 

 

I never truly realized all of this until my last semester studying photography in Indianapolis. My favorite professor there constantly said, “You aren’t a true artist without true meaning. Search for your reason. Once you find it, your views of your art and your life will change.” I tried to understand why exactly I wanted to be a photographer. What did it mean to take a picture? Why are pictures so important? What IS a photograph?

 

One of my biggest reasons lies so simply in a photograph of her. Teresa, that smile of yours has influenced me so greatly. I’m infinitely thankful for you and what you’ve sparked in me. I will always love you.

 

The word "love" that is tattooed on the inside of my right wrist is scripted in her handwriting. This simple four-letter is a never-ending reminder of why I do what I do. 

 

If you’re still reading this please take pictures with those that you love. Take pictures to document what certain times you’re celebrating. They’re all important. They all matter. The second we lose someone - the second we lose something in our life that was so great - the only way we can literally see them again is through photography. Take a picture everyday. Store them safely. Print them out. Cover your house with them. Smile for them. Be goofy in them. Capture your life and those that are in it, just the way it is, before it’s too late.

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