Evoking Emotion

Learn how a local photographer went from a hobby to award-winning commercial images.

Article by Nina Weierman

Photography by Kelly Settle—Kelly Ann Photography

Originally published in Centerville Lifestyle

Nearly 20 years ago, Kelly Settle was at a bit of a crossroads in her life. Her job working at a children’s mental health facility had ended and she found herself with the opportunity to redefine what she wanted in a career. Always a visual person, she decided to try her hand at photography.

“We had some nice photography gear around the house to photograph our kids and I found that not only did I love it, but I was pretty good at it as a hobbyist,” admits Kelly. She took some photography classes to hone her craft further and officially opened Kelly Ann Photography in 2005. 

In 2013, after several years operating out of her house photographing her children, neighbors and friends, Kelly opened her studio in Historic Springboro. Not long after, Kelly decided she was ready to take her photography in a different direction and specialize solely on commercial photography. 

“I’ll never forget turning to my friend Wendy at a photography conference and saying, ‘I don’t want to be a portrait photographer anymore. I think I want to change lanes’,” shares Kelly. In the big boom of digital, when everyone was getting their hands on a camera, it seemed there was a “professional” portrait photographer on every corner and Kelly knew that she needed to center her skills on a specific niche. 

Focused on her goal, Kelly aligned herself with people that could expand her knowledge and expertise in commercial photography. Her willingness to work with and learn from others opened the doors to new projects for Kelly including some of her first commercial projects; a large medical management system, and Miami University. Since then she has had large installations at the University of Dayton arena, countless magazine covers and articles in Professional Photographer magazine. 

“I'm super proud of the photographs featured in Professional Photographer magazine because they represent the best in my industry. I used to sit and look at those magazines when I first started and I wished that I could be that good. It’s an honor to be featured in there,” explains Kelly.

Her drive to be the best that she can be is apparent not only in the images that she produces but also in her constant willingness to learn new skills. Kelly is currently working toward a Master of Photography degree earned through Professional Photographers of America. Outside of the classroom, Kelly has been able to use travel as a tool for sharpening her skills. A self-described “travel addict,” Kelly loves new experiences finding the beauty in nature and cities alike. 

“I recently took two trips out West to photograph the Milky Way. Astrophotography was a new technique I have been wanting to learn and the opportunity of visiting Death Valley and Joshua Tree to accomplish this was a bonus,” she shares. 

Kelly’s travels have also taken her to Europe more than once. She was able to hike the Dolomite Mountains and captured one of her favorite travel photos there. “I remember the hike leading up to it, what the day was like, where I was standing and how I felt when I took that photo. It evokes emotion,” recalls Kelly.

The emotion that a picture conveys is something that also plays a part in Kelly’s commercial photography business. “I try to engage clients and understand what their vision is for their company. I keep in mind what feeling or emotion they want to convey,” Kelly says. 

Clients often describe how easy it is to work with Kelly. “We start with what your identified needs are, alleviate pain points and help you grow from there,” she explains. “We try to make it as easy as possible. We're the professionals, let us manage it.”

Kelly loves what she does and her passion is clear when you look at her work and her many achievements. In partnership with Premier Health, Kelly was awarded a Hermes Award in 2019 for her image “Pivot”. The awards are sponsored by the American Association of Marketing and Communications Professionals. 

She was nominated for two additional Hermes Creative Awards this year, including an image of Centerville High School basketball player Gabe Cupps, which was featured on the cover of Centerville Lifestyle. She has also been named one of the top 10 photographers in Ohio and won first place in the commercial print competition from the Professional Photographers of Ohio in 2020. 

Kelly’s focus, years of experience, intellectual curiosity, flexibility and creativity enable her to capture exactly what her clients need. For more information about Kelly Ann Photography visit KellyAnnPhotos.com

“I remember the hike leading up to it, what the day was like, where I was standing and how I felt when I took that photo. It evokes emotion.”

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