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Why I became a Professional Photographer by Durango Photographers

How and Why does someone decide to become a professional photographer?  It’s certainly not a quick and easy journey from deciding to do that to actually doing it.  My dad was a professional wedding and portrait photographer for many years – he even had a dark room in our basement.  I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t have a camera that he had given to me and I loved every minute of taking photographs.  The prints that he made in black and white of me and my brother growing up are beautiful and priceless.
It was too scary when I was a young woman to try to become a professional photographer because you don’t know if you will make enough money to pay the bills.  When my son was born, I took tons of photographs of him – he will have so many albums to go thru when he inherits them- haha.  I tried to study photography and learn how to work my camera when he was little, but there were too many demands to fully concentrate on that.  It wasn’t until he was around 14 that I finally decided to take the plunge.  My husband was making enough money that I could try things out and if they didn’t work, I could go back to my old business.
I especially wanted to do wedding photography and family portraits.  I called around to many local photographers and finally found one who was willing to let me go along with her to weddings.  I worked with her for a good year and then went out on my own.  During all this time I had purchased a Nikon D200, two SB800 flashes, flash transmitter and receivers, studio strobes, stands, soft boxes, umbrellas, and many other items to work with (I had saved up a lot of money so I could do this).  My poor son became my practice person and I was calling him into my studio so many times, he was like “Oh mom, not again”!  But I needed to practice.  I also took him outdoors to practice using the flashes with umbrellas.
I also studied and practiced to become a Certified Professional Photographer.  Once I felt ready, I took the test and submitted images to a jury.  I passed the test, but it took two tries on the images to pass.  You had to submit 12 images, all from different sessions or weddings, and each of the 6 judges had to agree on every image or you didn’t pass.  They had to be technically perfect for composition, lighting, and exposure.
After a few years I upgraded to the Nikon D300s which I still use to this day.  I also use a number of different lenses, and still have the SB800s.  I don’t make a ton of money, but I enjoy what I do so much that I wouldn’t think of going back.   All of my portraits and weddings are done outdoors now, so I’ve sold the strobes and soft boxes.  I have been intrigued by the new camera technology from Light, that combines 16 lens into 1 to cut down on the amount of equipment you have to bring.
Here’s an image that I took many years ago (bad lighting, bad posing) and a more recent one to show you that I believe I’ve improved over the years.  The bad one was taken during a wedding where I was with my mentor, so luckily it wasn’t anything given to the couple.
Durango Wedding Photographers, Wedding Photographers Durango CO

Wedding photo from 2007 – bad lighting and bad posing

Durango Wedding Photographers, Wedding Photographers Durango CO

Nice lighting and posing

Thanks for reading my story.

Luv, Karen

Durango Wedding Photographers

Contact me for more information: or 970.884.5292



About karenskellyphoto

Hello there! I'm a Certified Professional Photographer serving the entire Western Slope of Colorado, including Durango CO, Cortez CO, Silverton CO, Ouray CO, Telluride CO, Pagosa Springs CO, and Farmington NM. I love photographing the emotions during a family session or wedding; the love, hugs, kisses, tears, and laughs. Please view my website at, and read the "About" page for more information. Thanks for looking. Karen

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