Thursday, December 4, 2014

Denver Senior Photographer: Olivia Bednarski, Pomona High School

Today's senior feature is one of the most fun sessions I've ever shot!!  Olivia Bednarski is a senior at Pomona High School and not only did she bring some great senior photo wardrobe options, she also incorporated some of her Polish heritage into her session.  Olivia has been a part of a Polish dancing team since she was a little girl, so she brought the entire dance outfit.  People, seriously, that thing was SO heavy.  It's truly impressive that someone so tiny can still dance with all that weight!! :)  

Olivia, you are so so beautiful with the most incredible eyes EVER!!!  And obviously our whole team is envious of your ombre even inspired Jennifer (hair stylist) to do the same to her own!!  Thank you so much for choosing me to be your senior photographer, it was an absolute honor!

Model: Olivia Bednarski, Pomona High School
Photographer: Stacey Kyler
MUA: Tasha Green
Hair Stylist: Jennifer Dean
Photo Assistant: Jennifer Dean

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Denver Senior Photographer: Hot 100 Contest and My Photography Journey

Wow.  It's over a month now since I first heard the news that I was named one of Senior Style Guide magazine's Hot 100 winners.  Two of my images were chosen to be in their annual Hot 100 magazine, which features the top 100 senior photographers in the United States.  To quote my favorite Frozen line, "Wait, WHAT?"  I am one of the top 100 senior photographers in the United States!??!  I still truly can't believe it.  I have tears welling up in my eyes as I type this very minute.  It's a dream come true for me.  But if you know me well, you know that it has been a long journey.  There have been waaaaay too many moments where I've wondered if I could ever make this business a go...if I made a bad decision quitting my previous day job...if anyone would ever like my work.  It's been a 7-year journey that has not only taught me so much about the photography industry, but way more about my own character, dreams, and inner-fighter. :)  

About a year and a half ago, my husband, Will, and I were having one of the above described conversations on a walk one night.  I was extremely frustrated and, honestly, embarrassed that I wasn't contributing to the family finances the way I felt I should be.  I looked at Will and said, "I can't let this dream die yet.  Give me 1 more year to see if I can make this successful and, if not, I'll quit and go get a normal job working for someone else."  You have no idea the fire that lit under me.  If I'm anything, I'm competitive and maybe (probably) a little too proud.  If I was going down, it was only going to be after the greatest fight of my life.  Sitting here now, sharing this great news with you is so surreal.  I'm humbled, but more than anything, I'm grateful. 

Anyway. :)  This whole Hot 100 deal has really caused me to reflect and look back on this crazy journey.  I realized today that many of you may not know my whole story and how I ended up here, doing this job and the happiest I've ever been in my life.  Below is an article that I added to my senior magazine this year.  It's my story and I thought I'd include it here for you to see as well. 


"Seven years ago, my husband, Will, and I were drowning in the chaos of Washington D.C. life and jobs.  We were planning our wedding from our blackberries while commuting to and from work and finding little to no time for ourselves.  We both loved our jobs (in a workaholic kind of way), but knew that both of us continuing with that kind of schedule would eventually burn us out.  With no clue what else I could do outside of my world at the Pentagon, we forged on.  When our wedding was over (BEST day EVER, by the way!!!) and our photographer sent us our wedding album design, I quickly got to work changing every single thing about the layout and design of the album.  Oops.  :)  I never realized that I enjoyed or had an eye for design work, but I fell in love with it and it provided a very welcome escape from my detail-oriented day job.  A few months later, my younger brother, Chad, was getting married as well and asked if I would take their wedding photos.  Now, I pretty much lived with a camera attached to my hip and loved to take photos of the adventures of my life, but I had never (ever) considered shooting photography professionally, let alone the most important day of a couple’s life!  But if any of you are a big sister, I’m sure you can relate to the fact that I couldn’t tell him no, so of course I agreed. Yikes!  I was so nervous.  I mean, super nervous.  I had no idea how to pose them, and I shot the entire wedding with the camera on auto mode.  Haha.  That makes me laugh now, but I still can’t believe I did it.  I’m pretty sure my brother and sister-in-law still love me. :)  After designing their wedding album, people started commenting on the photos, saying things like,  “they look so good” and “they look like a professional took them”.  For the very first time, a light bulb went off and the thought that maybe this was something I could do started to creep its way into my head.  That was the beginning of a dream...a dream that began in 2008 in Washington D.C.  

I started by photographing anything people would hire me to shoot...families, kids, newborns, seniors, weddings, pets, extended family reunions, the works.  The greatest part about starting this way was that I quickly learned all of the types of photography that I didn’t like to shoot, but also what I was super passionate about.  I found that what I really loved about photography was the artistic side of it...creating an image that looked like something you would see in a magazine.  For me, I found the greatest artistic fulfillment and joy in my job when I was photographing senior girls.  Why not senior boys, you wonder?  Most, not all, but most boys don’t want to have their picture taken.  Shocking, I know! :)  And ladies, I’m a girly girl.  I like the primping, laughing, and spending hours together having a really good time.  So boys...forget them.  Haha!  

This image was a Hot 100 winner in the Details category. Model: Anya Dushinski, MUA: Tasha Green, Hair Stylist: Jennifer Dean, Photo Assistant: Tami Courtney  This image was taken on our 2015 Senior Model Destination Photo Shoot to the Colorado Sand Dunes.  The wind was blowing like CRAZY and yet Anya still managed to give this fierce and GORGEOUS face.   

It’s now mid-2009 and I’m still working at the Pentagon while at the same time shooting whatever photography people will hire me to shoot.  My business reached a point where I either needed to stop taking photography clients or I needed to quit my other job.  I just couldn’t do both any longer.  This was a huge decision and one that took a lot of time, discussions with my husband, and mostly prayer.  My Dad had given me some advice when I was in high school.  He said, “Stacey, never put yourself in a situation where you look back some day and wonder, what if...”  Did I want to keep my day job just because it was stable?  Would I ever look back and wonder what if I had tried photography full time?  My husband was, and always will be, my biggest supporter and fan.  In that decision moment, he looked at me and said, “you’ll never know if you don’t try”.  So I did it.  I quit my job and officially became a full-time photographer.  Crazy. Sometimes I still can’t believe that I get to do this.  I’m a very lucky girl.

In the beginning of 2010, Will was given a job opportunity in Denver.  He grew up in the mountains of Montana on a ranch, so the idea of getting back out west was very appealing to him.  Me, on the other hand, had never been to Colorado...not even a layover through DIA.  As crazy as it sounds, however, I immediately fell in love with the idea of it and was completely supportive of the move, even if it meant starting my photography business all over again.  By March 2010, we were officially Colorado residents and I can now, over 4.5 years later, say that it was the best move of our lives.  Everything about this place feels like home to us.  My love of running has transitioned into a passion for trail running with our dogs in every open space park I can find.  We ski, hike, and camp.  We love it here.  A lot.  It’s home.  But don’t let all this talk about our outdoor adventures fool you.  There is still a city girl inside me who loves fashion, beauty, and styling.  Is it possible to be both a city and a country girl at heart?  I say yes!  My senior photography business really began to flourish when I embraced just that... gorgeous Colorado, natural light, outdoor photography with a fashion and beauty flair.  It’s me, it’s who I am and what I love, so it comes very naturally to me.  I have found my heart as an artist."

This image was a Hot 100 winner in the Glam category.  Model: Sabrina Ballard, Hair & MUA: Tasha Green, Dress: Dream Shoot Rentals, Photo Assistants: Will Kyler, Tasha Green, Lydia Osberg, TJ & Denise Jacobson (Haha, yes, this is a lot of assistants.  It was pouring down rain, so Sabrina is set up at the edge of our garage...outside enough that there is light on her, but inside enough that she, and the dress, stay dry.  The rest of us just got wet, holding reflectors and "floofing" the dress.)

Behind the scenes image from the above photo shoot. :)

To those closest to me that have made this dream a reality (Will, Tasha, Tami, Jennifer, and Heather) - I love you with all my heart. You all inspire me so much and you are SO GOOD at what you do. This award is yours too because there is absolutely no way I could (or would ever want to) do this without you.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Denver Senior Photographer: Bailey Lenart, Peak to Peak Charter School

Holy moly.  Well, to say that I've been a big, huge blogging slacker would be a monstrosity of an understatement.  To all of you who stop by on a regular basis and have been disappointed by my lack of new posts over the last couple weeks, I AM SO SORRY!  For real.  The bulk of the Class of 2015 senior season is over.  I cry myself to sleep over this.  Haha.  Well, no, but I am truly bummed.  This season of seniors has been the best of the best.  I've had the most amazing time getting to know each and every one of them and my heart bursts with all the gratitude I feel for making this the most incredible year yet!

And speaking of the best of the best.  Please allow me to introduce you to Ms. Bailey Lenart.  Bailey is a senior at Peak to Peak Charter School in Lafayette, Colorado.  You can look at her images and just see her genuine, sweet, and absolutely infectious personality.  And after meeting her parents, you know immediately that she comes by it honestly.  :)  Bailey was so much fun to photograph...she is gorgeous, has the most stunning eyes, and that hair...oh my word!!!  Love.

Bailey, hugs to you and your wonderful family.  It was truly an honor to photograph your senior pictures.  Thank you for choosing me!!

Model: Bailey Lenart, Peak to Peak Charter School
Photographer: Stacey Kyler
MUA: Make-Up by Heather B
Hair Stylist: Jennifer Dean
Photo Assistant: Denise Jacobson