Hey, Kelly! I love interviewing a fellow Minnesotan! Tell readers a bit about yourself. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in a very small town in central Minnesota called Staples.

Did you play sports as a kid?

I played all sorts of sports as a kid but really stuck with tennis and golf as a teenager. I continued to play golf competitively in college at Concordia St. Paul.

That is so cool! Where do you live now?

After going to college in Saint Paul, I stuck around and continue to enjoy living there. Saint Paul is my new home :)

Anything else you’d like readers to know about you?

I love going for walks, reading books, cooking, going to sporting events and concerts, and I’m obsessed with dogs.

How long have you been a photographer? When did you start?

I have been taking photos my whole life. My mom even has photo albums of images that I was taking at family gatherings as a young child. I got more serious into photography as a young adult and took a lot of friends' senior photos. I continued to utilize my love for photography in my free time after getting a full time job in graphic design after college. I photographed events, some weddings and portraits. In 2019, I got a job as a designer for the [University of] Minnesota Gophers. I let them know I had a strong interest in photography and their Director of Photography took me under his wing and taught me everything I needed to know about shooting sports. I am now the Creative & Photography Manager for the Gophers and photograph all of our teams during media days and events.

AAH! So so so cool. I love that your mom has an album of the photos you took! That is so sweet. It's like she knew where you'd end up! I love your work with the University of Minnesota, and as a Gopher volleyball season ticket holder, I love seeing you in action, courtside. I play the "where is Brad (fellow sports photographer Brad Rempel)? Where is Kelly?" game every time I go to a match LOL.

What was your first “pro” camera?

In college I purchased an affordable Canon DSLR kit from Costco to shoot portraits and events with. Once I started working for the Gophers I got really spoiled with incredible gear. I now shoot with the Canon R3 and a wide variety of lenses.

What a perk! That is cool.

What was your first paid photography gig?

As a 19 year old I booked my first wedding. I enjoyed the thrill of photographing such a huge moment for someone and seeing how happy they were with the images I captured for them. It was really rewarding.

What was your first paid sports photography gig?

I lucked out that the Gophers gave me lots of opportunities to shoot events as I was learning how to be a sports photographer. I think the moment that felt like a big break for me was when I was hired as the PWHL Minnesota photographer last fall. I have been covering all of their home games this inaugural season which has been surreal for me.

I'm so jealous that you get to photograph the Gopher athletes AND for the PWHL Minnesota hockey team. What a great combo! What was one of your favorite events/competitions/games/matches that you shot?

In my first year with the Gophers, I got to photograph a MBB [Mens basketball] game against ranked Ohio State and we ended up winning and the fans stormed the court. I have been a Gopher basketball fan for many years so it was such a cool moment for me as a fan and as a photographer. Also, last year I photographed a wedding in Mexico and it was so stressful yet so fun. It was definitely a big challenge for me but I think pushing myself helped me build up my confidence with my portrait work and I now have these incredible photos from a beautiful wedding in Mexico that I can look back on which is really sweet.

Now, onto one of my favorite topics: Do you do your own photo editing?


Do you like photo editing? Why or why not?

I enjoy doing my first edits a lot. It’s when I go through and do all of the secondary edits where I struggle sometimes to be motivated or excited about doing the work - haha. But, in general, I enjoy doing my own photo editing because I sometimes shoot specific shots with an edit in mind and I like seeing the progress from the initial shot to the final edit.

Me, too! I love knowing how I'm going to edit a photo as soon as I snag it.

What photography jobs do you have coming up and you are excited about?

I will be photographing the MN Aurora this season which I am excited about! I also have a newborn shoot coming up and that’s something I haven’t done much of but it’s for a close friend so I’m excited to try something new.

Awww, fun. Also, I've been trying to get in with the MN Aurora since before their season ever started. Way to go! That is great.

What kinds of non-sports-related photo jobs do you take?

I do some portrait and event photography outside of sports. Typically it’s something I do for friends or family because they know me as “the photographer.” But I’m always open to expanding my skills and growing my portfolio and taking on new challenges as a photographer in general.

Who were/are your mentors?

Brad Rempel really pushed my photography skills to the next level. I would'nt be where I am today without his guidance.

Brad is awesome. I love him. What would be an event/competition/game that you would love to shoot someday?

As a golfer and a fan of the game, I think it would be fun to shoot a professional golf tournament, specifically The Masters. It’s a tournament I’ve watched every year with my family. The course is stunning and it’s a dream of mine to see it in person, but it would be really amazing to be able to photograph it.

Thank you so much, Kelly, for allowing me to interview you! I love seeing your work and I hope to work next to you sometime. Readers can follow Kelly on Instagram here.

Stay tuned for the next interview on Thursday!