Friday, July 23, 2010

moving to Tumblr

I'm going to be posting bloggy content much more frequently onto my Tumblr site. I'm not sure how long I'll keep this Blogger page going as well.

My Tumblr site is a nice mix of current shoots, portfolio/video work, behind the scenes stuff, as well as a photo diary of sorts. It's less formal and random. There's a lot of content up and running already.

Please visit that site, bookmark it, feed it, follow it, etc.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Aquinas Library at Night

I came across this architectural photo I shot back in 2006 for Aquinas College…their library looks fantastic at night.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Behind the Scenes-Lux Land

Lux Land Shoot - Behind the Scenes from Brian Kelly Films on Vimeo.

A quick (and raw) video clip of part of my shoot with Lux Land last summer for her new album. If you haven’t ever heard her music, do yourself a favor and pick up her latest album “Sweet Suspension."

This portion of the shoot with Lux was located in a (mosquito infested) nature reserve at Calvin College. Just to the left of where we were shooting in this video was a small patch of trees where the cover shot to the album was taken.

Here's the photo we were working on in the video:

Friday, July 2, 2010


outtake from a soon to be infamous robot photo shoot for MAKE Magazine...I'll be blogging about this later.

Steve Heacock for Congress

Steve Heacock is a Republican candidate for Congress.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Michigan State University

I’ve shot quite a bit the last few weeks for Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine. It's another stunning addition to Grand Rapids' burgeoning Medical Mile.

Momentum - 2010

Momentum is an organization that provides seed funding and mentorship to innovative entrepreneurs to help develop, refine and bring their ideas to venture capital investors (among other things).

I was asked to produced this video on a tight timeline for Momentum. It was shot, edited and screened to an audience within 2 1/2 weeks.

Momentum Video from Brian Kelly Films on Vimeo.

Haworth Photo

A photo from a recent shoot with furniture giant Haworth.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Recent Shoot-Urban Bike Park

I love shooting for Rapid Growth Media every single week. The stories are all positive and shooting for them allows me to meet all kinds of innovative people around Grand Rapids that I'd never otherwise get to photograph.

These photos are of Nate Phelps. This dude made a great BMX/Mountain bike park out of a blighted, abandoned park on the city's tough southwest side (he also had a lot of volunteers, dust, dirt and determination). It's this type of grass roots effort that makes Grand Rapids arguably the coolest place to live in the Midwest.

That's right, I said Grand Rapids, Michigan :)

Click here to read about the Rapid Growth feature story about Nate.

And please check out the rest of my photo portfolio. I'd love to work with you:

Have a great weekend,


Sunday, May 2, 2010

I've Joined Wonderful Machine

I'm very proud to announce I am now affiliated with Wonderful Machine; one of the world's leading online resources for creative professionals to locate and hire photographers by region as well as by photographer specialty.

Wonderful Machine presents my work to a world-wide audience of photo editors, ad agencies, art directors and designers that I would not be able to reach on my own. They also are able to provide production assistance just about anywhere in the world as well as a range of other specialty services that photographers often need.

Wonderful Machine represents some of the best photographers in the world. Needless to say I'm extremely pleased to be working with them. I invite you to take a look around their site and visit some of the fantastic talent they showcase.

I've also been frequently updating my re-designed web site so take a look around if you haven't seen it in a while!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Guggenheim Fellow - Carolyn Drake

Some of the best documentary photography I've ever seen. Meet 2010 Guggenheim Fellowship winner Carolyn Drake:

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Editing Is Hard But Sequencing Is Harder

Editing down the images you want to show to a client, editor or audience can be difficult...but sequencing images for your web portfolio is even harder.

The images above are from a recent location shoot for Rapid Growth Media and feature the accomplished artist and art advocate Paul Amenta. The shoot came out nice and I had a really hard time making selects. Each of the set-ups above had slight variations that worked well, but these were the selects that I came up with for the Rapid Growth story that felt the best to me.

I wanted to put 1 or 2 of these up into my "People" section of my portfolio site. I had a hard time deciding which one(s) to place into my portfolio and where to drop them into the flow of images that were there already in the ; should they go toward the beginning, middle, or end of the flow of images? Plus, should I separate the images inside the portfolio or sequence them all consecutively because it's the same person/shoot?

Tough questions...there isn't really a hard and fast answer. I actually don't have a clue as to what will create the most impact on the viewer coming to my site cold. I'm much too close to the shoot and am biased somewhat by the circumstances around each set-up, i.e., was the lighting more difficult to accomplish? or was something funny said that we all laughed about, etc? These are all things that might influence me, but the viewer coming cold to the images is unaware of these circumstances (and probably doesn't care).

So this blog post remains open ended as to how to sequence your work. How do you handle this issue? Feel free to drop a comment and share your ideas and, perhaps, frustrations.

Here's my "People" portfolio as it stands right now with a few of the images above dropped in.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Finding Danny Glover - Finding Clay

A couple of months ago, I needed a model for an advertising shoot for book publishing giant Zondervan. Their ad agency at Extra Credit Projects requested a model fitting a "Danny Glover type, black male, 50's with a grey peppered beard."

The shoot was on a tight timeline and we needed someone quickly. I reached out to my social media contacts on Facebook and Twitter and posted this photo of Danny Glover and asked if anyone knew of someone fitting the bill to contact me right away:
Within 5 minutes my friend Aaron over at Creo Productions emailed me the cell phone number of Clay...a guy who lived near their offices on Division Avenue.

I called Clay immediately on my way to another shoot. I explained I needed a model but had to get agency approval asap. He said he was eating pizza at Georgio's Pizza downtown and that I was welcome to drop in. I was only a few blocks from there. Within seconds I'd taken a quick iPhone shot and emailed it off to Extra Credit Projects for approval. Here's that iPhone shot:
Clay was approved right away...and we shot him a couple of days later. Clay's a very sweet man, an amazing poet and a bright light living in the resurging neighborhood of Heartside. Here's one of the shots that was submitted for the Zondervan advertisement. Don't underestimate the willingness of your social media contacts to help you when you need it most!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Upper Peninsula Discovery

I was prepping some files for a client from a shoot I did well over a year ago in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The client was finally ready to proceed with the project and requested a nicely edited suite of images from the trip.

I stumbled upon this outtake of a vintage car passing me. It was totally a grab shot...the camera pointed out an open window...a small diversion from hours and hours of driving in between cities.

The shot is totally over-exposed, blurry, technically flawed, random...


(You can see earlier posts about this trip here and here.)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Lux Land-Album Packaging

Lux dropped off her new CD over the weekend called "Sweet Suspension." I was really pleased with the packaging and printing. The front cover photograph coupled with the album title is a really nice match.

Last summer Lux and I shot for a few hours on a mosquito infested afternoon...we shot deep in the woods and also alongside a swampy bayou of Reeds Lake in East Grand Rapids.

The album is fantastic and features some amazing production by Texas' Kristy Krueger. Lux's music is always the hardest for me to I won't even try. Just order her album he
re and thank me later!

Here's some outtakes from the shoot:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Photographer Platon and the Civil Rights Movement

The famous portraitist Platon talks to Charlie Rose in a video here about a series of incredible images he made for The New Yorker; Platon took portraits of many of the surviving figures of the the civil rights movement.

I very much connected to 3 things Platon discusses with Charlie Rose:
1. That he still gets nervous before each shoot (as I do)
2. That it's very hard to emotionally connect to the people you're photographing
3. That these inspiring civil rights figures had a profound effect on his life

Last fall I was in Memphis. And on somewhat of a whim I went to the National Civil Rights Museum located at the site of the now infamous Lorraine Motel. This is where Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered on the motel balcony.

As I toured the Museum, I became overwhelmed at the enormous sacrifices and injustices that so many in the civil rights movement endured to provide others a chance at social justice and freedom from oppression. Many were murdered...many others beaten, jailed and treated worse than animals.

This all occurred when I was baby...not that long ago. These were people born in The United States. It seems incomprehensible today.

I only managed to take two simple photos w/my iPhone...both of them were of that damn balcony.

Friday, March 12, 2010

David Byrne Documentary

A source of inspiration...can't wait to see it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Can Design Save Newspapers?

Can great design save newspapers? Yes. Magazines too. This brilliant designer transformed many European newspapers through design...readership is exploding.

My favorite quote from his speech is "Remember, to be good is not enough."

This video is well worth 6 minutes of your time...the ideas presented apply to many industries...not just media.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My New Web Site is LIVE!!!

What does 2 months of a lot of photo editing, some very late nights and a lot of tweaking get you? I'm proud to announce that my new portfolio web site ( is now live!

This new site is certainly media rich...with large photos (try the site on Fullscreen!)...and a large integrated video player. This is a huge change from my old Flash based site.

The iPad, Kindle and other portable media devices are rapidly changing how we view newspapers, magazines and television shows...this revolution is just starting...and it's a content rich world.

I believe photography and visual storytelling (short films, photo essays, videos, etc.) are going to more important than ever in a high bandwidth, multi-media's a VERY exciting time to be both a photographer and videographer!

I welcome your feedback on the new portfolio. Oh, you can also view a nice mobile version of my site on your iPhone or other SmartPhone device!


Thursday, February 25, 2010

moving soon...

It's been a bit quiet here lately, but for good reason.

In the next week or so, I'll be launching an entirely new portfolio site as well as moving this blog over to a new blogging platform supported by the new web site.

I can't wait to share it with of my big goals for early 2010 was to totally rethink how I show my photography and film work online. I'm very happy so far and will roll it out soon!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Fun at Haworth

I was out at Haworth yesterday in Holland to shoot a portrait for a feature coming up this week in Rapid Growth.

I had a some time to kill and was inspired to throw on a tilt/shift lens and play around re-interpreting some of the lines, colors and patterns.

I was absolutely blown away by the design and architecture of Haworth's headquarters.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Gothic Rapid Growth?

As some of you already know, I've been Rapid Growth Media's managing photographer since its inception 4 years ago. I love shooting for this thoroughly positive weekly web magazine that focuses on entrepreneurship, innovation, lifestyle and "green" initiatives around West Michigan.

This week's issue has some particularly interesting photographs. I invite you to take a look at the kayak feature as well as the a nice profile about an eco-couple.

These two stories exemplify why this publication is so much fun to shoot moment I'm photographing someone out on an icy river...and the next I'm inspired to ask a couple to emulate Grant Wood's "American Gothic" painting...but with a twist.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

New Aquinas Video - Academics

I've been producing, directing and shooting a series of videos this year for Aquinas College. This latest video touts the high academic standards of the school using several voices faculty members as well as the Provost.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wondergem Staff Photos

Grand Rapids based Wondergem Consulting undertook one of the longer term photography projects I've ever worked on...and it was a total blast. We shot over the course of 4 months starting in June of last year.

The project consisted of creating unique portraiture of each their staff as well as a selection of their blue chip client list for their brand new web site. We shot on helipads, pedi-cabs and everywhere in between!

Above are some of the staff photographs...and I'll post some of their client portraits later in the week!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

UICA-Behind the Scenes

I proudly serve as a member of the board of UICA...the Urban Institute for Contemporary of the most unique art organizations in the entire country. We're building an amazing new facility.

Take a quick video tour with me and UICA's Executive Director Jeffrey Meeuwsen.

If you'd like to donate and support this amazing well as have your hard earned dollars generously matched by the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation you may do so here.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Fashion Shoot Post #2 - Paper Dresses

This was one memorable shoot...and the photos/wardrobe featured in this post were only a part of many talented people worked very hard to mutually pull off something (hopefully) special. Many of you have asked me who the shoot was for and why it took place. Interesting story:

Julie Strating and I started casually chatting at a Christmas Party for our friends at StoryTelling Pictures...and the next thing you know we agreed to collaborate on a major fashion shoot to benefit our mutual portfolios. I'll give you the whole back story of how (and why) this came to be with my next post.

These amazing paper dresses were designed and created by fashion designer/artist Claudia Petrelli. Claudia is from Grand way of Bucharest, Romania. Thank you, Claudia!

Here's the rest of the hard working crew...amazing job by everyone.

Julie Strating: Make-up Artist
Erin Brown: Hair Stylist
Natasha Ohlman: Fashion and Set Stylist

Jon "JC" Cunningham: Male Model
Alexandra Rush: Female Model (of Ford Models in New York City)
Christine Praniewicz: Female Model (of Matthew Agency of Grand Rapids)

Brian Kelly: Photographer

Josh Tyron: Lead Assistant
Elizabeth Mikrut: Producer/2nd Assistant

Location: Wealthy Theater - Grand Rapids, Michigan (thank you, Erin for all your help!)

A big thanks to my crew of Josh and always have my back...and the sandwiches.

One more blog post about this shoot coming later...more photos too!