Kelley Farlow grew up with an art teacher as a mom. “I was really fortunate to have that influence from such a young age,” says Farlow, 28, who is based in LA. “Even though I minored in art and fell in love with my film and digital photo classes, I actually started out in the ‘industry’ as a hair and makeup artist, which I still love doing just as much as shooting.”
It wasn’t until she began working consistently on set in cities like New York, Miami and San Francisco that she realized she wanted to be a fashion photographer.
“I love shooting with natural light and collaborating with stylists, videographers and designers on mostly editorial and fashion sets,” she says. “I do really enjoy working with models, but I also love working with artists such as musicians and painters. I just really like connecting with all genuine creatives.”
Some circumstances are especially inspiring to Farlow, who says she’s draw to certain colors, as well as the patterns and shadows of natural light.
“When I’m looking for inspiration, I love to travel alone, because I’ve found that I’m much more aesthetically aware and able to absorb my surroundings when I’m 100% present with myself and thoughts,” she says. “People inspire me as well, though. I want my work to evoke feeling and emotion, and I feel like my shots turn out best when I’m able to establish a connection to subjects before photographing them.”
That presence translates to a passion for whatever she’s collaborating on at the moment. “I try and focus all of my energy into what I’m currently working on. Right now I’m editing a series featuring one of my favorite models, Sati, and a milk-bath with flowers and sliced citrus fruits.”
But Farlow appreciates any project that presents a challenge. “I love shoots that force me to step outside my comfort zone and try something new, whether it ends up ‘working’ or not,” she says. “I try to learn something from every opportunity in order to continue growing as an artist.”
She admits that being a full-time artist can be frustrating at times. “But honestly I’m grateful because it keeps you humble and wanting to work harder. If you’re truly passionate about your art, no amount of competition or challenge should negatively impact you enough to give up.”
Farlow has learned to deal with temporary feelings anxiety, insecurity, jealousy, depression, etc. by channeling negative energy into mental and physical productivity. “For me, skateboarding, meditation and trying new techniques with my art help me find balance when I’m having a difficult time creating.”
She says being an artist comes with lots ups and downs—but they’re worth it. “Don’t get discouraged when you’re not feeling inspired. Keep challenging yourself but have fun,” she advises young photographers.
“Trying new things like different editing techniques or shooting 35mm if you only shoot digital can help you discover your strengths, weaknesses and ultimately help you establish your specific look and ‘style’ as a photographer.”
Photos by Jesse Ryder McCann/Cane Road