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  • May 14, 2021
  • 11 min to read

An Interview with a Travel Photographer and Storyteller Kelli Klymenko — About Nature, Stars and Sources of Inspiration

An Interview with a Travel Photographer and Storyteller Kelli Klymenko — About Nature, Stars and Sources of Inspiration

Kelli Klymenko is an artist, storyteller, photographer, teacher, yogi, husband, father, science aficionado and free thinker—experiencing life in one of the most inspiring and picturesque places on earth with his fabulous wife and children. He is also the Marketing Director at Sedona Arts Center, a Google Trusted Photographer and is the driving force behind SEDONA PHOTOFEST which will return in June of 2019. 

What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?

That's a tough question! I'm an artist (visual arts: painting, drawing, etc) and I first experienced photography when I was around 12 years old. I loved the medium but had no idea how expressive my photography could be until I was older and more experienced.

Why do you take photos?

As an artist, I love to share my view of the world, whether through my drawings, a painting, or photograph. It's my way of expressing myself creatively.

“Remember to grow; learn; conserve; preserve; create; question; educate; change; and free your mind.” 

What inspires you?

I'm inspired by the natural world around us!

Which photographers influenced you, and how did they influence your thinking, photographing, and career path?

Pick any naturalist or cosmologist. I was inspired originally and with full force by Carl Sagan and with the view of the universe coming into view every night, the world around me became more aw-inspiring. My career path has always been the pursuit of art that took many different forms. I'm the Marketing Director at Sedona Arts Center (for 8 yrs now) and I absolutely love being surrounded by artists and teachers. I also teach iPhoneography Workshops at the Arts Center to help others find their own creative outlet as well! I'm currently inspired by photographers such as Shannon Wild for her amazing wildlife photos, Mike Olbinski for his incredible storm chasing skills, and Jacob Hessler for his minimalist landscapes.

What do you want to say with your photographs, and how do you actually get your photographs to do that?

My photography is all about sharing my personal experiences. I want the viewer to feel what I feel in that one particular moment that I freeze in time. I refuse to over-edit any of my photos, because life is imperfect and photographs that are too perfectly edited (plastic landscapes I call them) are not the real world, but false representations.

What technology/software/camera gear do you use?

Professionally I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark III, Mark II and 80D for video as well as my iPhone X. My favorite Canon lens is my 100-400mm (gets the absolute best shots) and for video and so much more, I use my iPhone X — sometimes with an external olloclip lens, and an image stabilizer for video (3-axis gimbal). I use the Enlight app on my iPhone X for almost all my edits, even my DSLR shots–and Photoshop on my Mac.

How do you choose what you are going to shoot?

I shoot anything and everything that's interesting, but mostly stick to nature. I have an advantage... I live in Sedona. So no matter where you look, you have a beautiful view. It also helps that I LOVE the desert and enjoy spending time out in the wilderness.

What kind of tools do you use for post-processing?

I'm not big on post-processing. I share my creativity through my photography because I don't have much time on my hands, so post-processing needs to be limited in my opinion. I never spend more than a few minutes on a photo adjusting light, contrast, tone, etc.

Tell more about your workflow.

I shoot, edit, share all within the few moments it takes to photograph my subject. The only time I spend actual time setting up a shot is when I'm shooting the stars at night. I would consider myself a guerilla photographer, as I don't see the point in spending so much time setting up a perfect shot when I can be experiencing the moment instead.

Among your works, which one is your favorite? Why?

"Juniper Under the Stars" is my favorite without a doubt. It's my favorite Juniper tree on Cathedral Rock trail — and it's just absolutely magical with the Milky Way visible. I'm a dreamer and a stargazer, so naturally I love living in an International Dark Sky Community ( where I can see more stars than I ever did growing up on the east coast.

What project are you working on now?

Sedona Photofest! 

Tell more about Sedona Photofest: what's your role and what knowledge you'd like to share? 

I'm the owner of Sedona Photofest and just recently brought my friend and local photographer Jordan Reece onboard as a partner. A little history: SEDONA PHOTOFEST was first conceived in 2010. By May of 2015, we offered two full days of presentations and workshops that were held at the Sedona Performing Arts Center (SPAC). Originally presented by the Sedona Arts Center, Sedona Photofest included technical and artistic insights across a wide spectrum of interests including Portrait Photography, Underwater Dogs, iPhoneography and Fashion Photography! We held seven unique workshops and four compelling seminars at the Sedona Arts Center.   By the way, if you’re recognizing the iPhone as a useful photographic tool you can check out iPhoneography Workshop at Sedona Arts Center.  We also proudly offered an outreach program to photography students at Sedona Red Rock High School featuring fashion photography in the landscape. Moving forward, we will have many more international presenters and vendors of every kind to allow visitors to experience the latest in technology and the latest from masters of the trade.

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