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Life behind the Lens

Kelly Pullen is a local Kansas City creative with an eye for both design and a great photo opportunity. Traveling the globe with camera in hand, Pullen captures breathtaking moments in destinations many may never get to see in a lifetime.  

Q: Can you tell me about your background and your journey to becoming an artisan and photographer?

A: I grew up on a farm in Weston, Mo. so there were always lots of outdoor places for me to explore as a kid. My mom bought me my first camera in high school, and I took it everywhere with me. After art school, I just wanted to find creative ways to celebrate the places I love. 

Q: What is your favorite medium?

A: Photography and illustration—I think it’s good to have more than one thing that’s your thing. It helps so much to take time away and do other things because when you come back to it again, you can get a much better perspective on what you’ve made. 

Q: What inspires the creation of your work? 

A: I originally started making the posters to sell for Exploring Roots, a non-profit organization in Kansas City. They are all about promoting spending time in nature and provide nature-based wellness programs (like camping, hiking and yoga) to youth who live in under-resourced urban neighborhoods. I’d always loved the famous National Parks posters and thought Kansas City’s natural areas deserved the same recognition. 

Q: Do you have a special formula for taking a great photo? 

A: The only real guide I have is when I see things that make me feel something. One of my favorite things is photographing from a distance—you’re so far away that people just look tiny next to this massive landscape. Perspective is everything.

Q: Looking on your website, your photo gallery spans the globe—what is your favorite destination? 

A: I’ve been really lucky to get to see some beautiful places. My favorite has been the Faroe Islands. They don’t get many tourists a year, and when the same five people kept showing up on all my ferries, we realized we might as well travel together. You end up getting to connect with people from all over the world, and it challenges you to look at your life in a different way.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring creatives wanting to turn their hobby into a business? 

A: I think the most important thing is to do work that you’re passionate about. Don’t make something just because you think it will sell. It never turns out right if your heart isn’t in it.

Q: Are there any future plans for your business?

A: I’m just finishing up a new poster of Weston. It’s one of my favorite places to go when I need to get out of my head for a while. Beyond that, I’ve always wanted to make posters of the places I’ve travelled. I went stargazing at the sand dunes in Colorado last year and it was incredible. That’s the best thing about being an artist—you get to memorialize the moments that are important to you. 

To see more of Pullen’s work or purchase one of her National Parks Service-inspired posters celebrating Kansas City’s green spaces, visit For collaboration inquiries, contact her directly at