Generosity runs in the Carmody family, that much is evident. Animal Aid has been fortunate enough to have Kelly’s sister, Shannen, volunteering with our rescue for the last three years (in fact, the best graphic design work in this newsletter is hers). So you can imagine how excited we were when Kelly offered her photography skills to capture some of our current and former foster dogs and their families through front porch photos. As we learned during our interview with her, this is only a small part of both Kelly’s art and her kindness, and we’re extremely grateful for both. Be sure to check out the Q&A below, as well as her website and Instagram for more of her work.

AA: How did photography become a passion and a profession for you?

KC: I started taking photos back in high school and really loved it as a creative outlet. I didn’t start taking photos regularly until 2014 when I was done with college and had gotten a lot more into the outdoors. Landscape photography became my passion for a long time because it made me stop to consider some of the things I used to just walk by without a second glance, like the light through the trees, a beautiful flower, or a simple path leading through the woods. It’s all really calming. 

Then I started working for an organization that served children in the hospital, and I began taking photos of children and their families. It made me realize how much I love telling a visual story and what an image can mean for people during special or even difficult times in their lives. I still love landscape photography, but my shift towards people, and now their dogs, allows me to tell the story of a very special relationship.

AA: In terms of your landscape photography, what’s been your favorite location to capture and why?

KC: It’s hard to name my favorite, but I think it has to be Joshua Tree. I saw the most gorgeous sunset of my life there. I must have taken 100 photos of that single sunset because it kept changing every few minutes. I also love the desert colors and soft hues. I would recommend people to go and visit (when it’s safe), and make sure you catch a sunset! 

AA: You also create photo paintings. What are those exactly, and how did that side of your work originate?

KC: My photo paintings sprung out of boredom during the quarantine. I was going through old archives of photos and found a photo where I wished there had been more flowers, so I decided to add them! I’ve painted digitally for a while and also saw it as an opportunity to hone those skills. It’s a fun experiment, and a few people have requested commissions, so it’s been a nice project while I’ve been inside and not as active in photography. I actually moved my art to a new instagram @painted_trails_art and will continue to do that on the side.

AA: You’ve been so generous to Animal Aid and other nonprofits with your time, your photography skills, and even your business profits. Can you talk a little bit more about why giving back is important to you and if there are particular types of causes you’re drawn to? For instance, Wild Diversity is listed on your website as your 2020 charity.

KC: When I started my business, I didn’t want it to be something that was in its own little bubble. I really believe that we are strongest when we can stand together as a community, so I want to give back where I can. The pandemic really made this clear when so many places are struggling to get by. I chose Wild Diversity as my 2020 charity because of its ties to the outdoors. I learned about them in 2019 from an outdoor expo and was really inspired by their mission to make safe spaces in the outdoors for BIPOC & LGBTQ. So many people from these marginalized groups don’t feel safe in the outdoors, and as someone who finds healing in nature, I would never wish for fear or anxiety to cloud that experience for anyone. 

AA: When not at work as a photographer, what are some of your favorite activities?

KC: I love reading⁠—fantasy/science fiction most of all! I also enjoy bike rides, baking, hiking with friends/family, and playing with my cat, Ellie.

AA: Can you share about a current or past companion animal?

KC: I have one cat named Ellie. She is an old, sassy, and very vocal tortoiseshell (she’s currently telling me that I need to get off the computer and give her attention). I got her later in her life, so while she is about 12 or 13, I’ve only had her for a few years. She has honestly turned me into a cat person! I was never against cats, but I always thought they sort of did their own thing. But Ellie is the sweetest companion, loves cuddles, and is just always excited to be around people. I’m super grateful for her companionship, and she’s brought me a lot of laughs and comfort during hard times.

Have a portrait, project, or idea you want to make reality? Reach out to Kelly to see how she can help!

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