The Minis: Kaley Cornett - Kansas City
Hi Kaley! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hello, hello! My name is Kaley and I am a wedding, family and lifestyle photographer here in the heart of the Midwest. I grew up in a small town in Kansas and now reside in the wonderful neighborhood of Westside here in KCMO.
How did you begin your work as a photographer?
I found interest in photography at a very young age, always buying disposable cameras, taking photographs of my friends. It then developed into something more in college where I started studying Fine Art Photography. Though I quickly realized, I was attracted and fascinated with people and knew that I wanted to be more of a storyteller, documenting moments.
You seem to get to travel quite a bit! What are a few of your favorite travel destinations or places you would like to visit?
One of the best parts of my job is being invited to someone's day or into someone's home in a beautiful new place and get to document my time there. Some of my favorite travel destinations thus far have been Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado, Palm Springs, Joshua Tree National Park, Marfa, TX and Positano, Italy. There are so many places I'd love to visit! From Charleston to Telluride to Tulum to Greece. Traveling is the greatest source of inspiration for me.
You capture people so beautifully; do you have a couple of memorable moments from shoots that stand out in your mind?
One moment that sticks out for me is when I photographed a dear friend of mine and her son, Asher. I was able to learn more about his adoption story and receiving her thoughts on me as a photographer warmed my heart and was so gratifying. I only photographed these two for thirty minutes, my quickest session ever and we created such magic. Maria ended up describing my work better than I could've imagined. I would love every mother, bride, artist, maker to see my work this way. She said, "she has a way of disappearing into your landscape so that you are able to just be yourselves as she works...and because of that, her work is so authentic; she is not afraid of the mess. She captures an honest and pure tenderness - it's as if those still moments come alive." Maria also told me that she had never felt more beautiful than when she was photographed by me. These moments and words stick with you. They've stuck with me and really put my style into perspective.
Another moment that stands out is the day I photographed my friends, Grace and Eric and their three boys in their Farmhouse here in Kansas City. It was just the overall feel of the afternoon - very undone, raw and full of emotion - one of my favorite shoots to date - jumping on the bed in their Superman underwear, running around outside only to get rained on and most importantly, getting to see all the different personalities that make up their household. It was beautiful.
I had been having these dreams of shooting an editorial shoot in an abandoned pool. One day, I went scouting and tried finding this old swim club that existed in the late 70's. While that didn't work out, I came across an abandoned motel right off the two-lane highway I was on in a place very unfamiliar to me. It was run down, had pink doors and great type and sure enough, to my right was a pool. I ended up grabbing my two model friends and having one of my favorite shoots to date. Bitti and Isaac in an abandoned pool. We ended up getting kicked out halfway through, but I made some incredible personal work for myself. There's nothing better than seeing a concept come to life and really surprising yourself.
Lastly, photographing Karen and Chris's elopement on the Amalfi Coast in Italy last October was incredible. Getting to adventure for a few days with them (and letting me invite my now-fiancé) and really getting to tell their story was magical. Not to mention, it was in one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen.
What do you enjoy most about your career?
Oh wow, I would say just experiencing people and getting to know them in an intimate way; seeing their vulnerable side, their soft side, the happy, goofy all of it. It's so rewarding and it's really an honor. It's an honor to be invited into someone's life to photograph moments and deliver those moments for them to keep as family heirlooms and to look back on for years and for them to trust me in the process.