Photographer Spotlight Kelly Serfoss
Meet Kelly Serfoss
Kelly grew up in northwest Montana. Seeing the finest natural wonders in the country daily, he was fortunate to have been exposed early in life to international experiences through his parents’ mission work. He moved to LA for college, and now lives in Venice with his wife Kate, a rockstar entertainment attorney, and doodle Bruno. Fun fact: His travel goal is to visit 60 countries by age 40. Though he still has a few years to go, he has already visited 54 countries.
Here is the million dollar question…why photography? What’s launched your passion?
Like so many people, I started shooting as a way to engage with the places I’ve traveled. After college, I spent a few years working for a non-profit, conducting site visits to projects around the world, in Cambodia, Bolivia, Honduras, Myanmar, Brazil, and so many more. Though I lacked in photographic technique, I learned a lot about the empathy in storytelling. The technique came later through sheer persistence.
Kelly, your portfolio of luxury automobiles is quite impressive but so are your landscape and portrait collections. What do you enjoy photographing the most?
How about a handsome portrait taken in an exquisite vehicle in a magnificent landscape? For me, the genre isn’t as important as the result, which is hopefully producing beautiful, thoughtful images. Balance and restraint in expression – these principles work regardless of the subject matter.
Out of the wide variety of lenses on the market, what’s your favorite one to use?
The 55mm Blue Ring affords a ridiculous amount of versatility, both from a manageable size perspective as well as performance. For shoots on location where atmosphere and environment rule the image, this is the one. In the studio, it’s the 80mm Blue Ring mounted on my camera. The 80mm forces me to be intentional about perspective, because every inch of height and angle affects the mood and presentation of that subject. Standing back with a traditional “portrait length” lens may flatter proportions, but it’s far less interesting conversation.
Lighting plays a major role in telling the story of your image. What are your favorite lighting techniques to tell your story?
Lighting, like styling and composition, is a reductive, not additive process for me. Simple leading lines, cohesive balance, and lighting to accent – this is what creates a timeless image. I’ve always been drawn to the work of photographers like Platon, who can create an arresting image with a single light, immediacy emphasized by proximity to the subject.
In which ways do you see your work evolving in the next 5 – 10 years from now?
I don’t look towards specific end points, but rather daily engage with the process of growth and development of my craft. It’s not possible to guarantee the jobs I’ll be offered, only the skill set with which I’ll arrive. Practically speaking, that means days not shooting are spent working on supplementary capabilities: retouching, printing, color processing, business workflow, data management, etc. Client budgets and priorities are changing with the establishment of social media appetite and CGI rendering. The more efficient and better organized I am, the more likely we are to have this conversation again 10 years from now.
If you could have given yourself any advice when you first launched your career in photography, what would it be?
Just relax, take it easy, you’re still young, that’s your fault, there’s so much you have to know. Oh wait, that’s Cat Stevens…but he had a point. Photographers walk the duality of artist and service provider. Understanding when to be which makes you tolerable, and make no mistake, being tolerable is step one. Step two is learning that anticipation and preparation contribute more to success than talent.
Why Capture Integration? What made you select us as a partner?
Because when I call, I’m not routed through an automated system, just to the person who can actually answer my question.
Connect With Kelly