We had the good fortune of connecting with Keely Chambers and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Keely, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
Growing up in Los Angeles, California in regards to art, inclusivity, creativity, and support in the arts has been the perfect place to grow up. As an only child my goals of being a dancer, photographer, filmmaker, and founder of The Lily Pad Zine have all been supported but also appreciated. My parents both work in the arts and with that, I have been so lucky to be able to learn from them not just as parents but also as creative inspiration, and business owners. My family loves to travel and I have been fortunate to do so. Going to France was a huge eye-opener due to how enriched in art and culture it is which helped give me inspiration but also let me see the importance of others’ perspectives, cultures, and language. My family, friends, and environment have all given me the opportunity to do what I love and allow others to do the same. By being in such a place, I have always wanted to create something meaningful that not only benefits myself but others. This is where The Lily Pad Zine stemmed from. I created the zine to form a place for writers, photographers, poets, filmmakers, dancers, and artists of all sorts to have a platform where their art could be easily accessed and shown to open-minded people and be inspired. I also wanted it to become a place for people with different backgrounds to come together as that truly shows the human experience and the art that can be made.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
From a very young age, I have always sought out activities that take a lot of responsibility and a challenge. This can be seen by how I have been dancing for ten years and have spent the past six years working on a dairy farm in Belleville Pennsylvania. My love for photography began in eighth grade as I was enrolled in the photography class at my school. From there I fell in love with dance photography, as I am a dancer. My beginning inspirations were Jordan Matter and Eva Nys, which helped me begin my journey as a photographer. I started out taking photos of everything. I would bring my camera to the studio and take photos there as well as go on outings to recreate Jordan Matter photos and even started to make edits of where I was going and what I was doing. As I kept going and becoming more enriched in the art community my inspiration moved towards fashion photographers and with that fashion magazines, which is where I find myself now. I love working alongside the models (aka my friends) to come up with the inspiration and from there create storyboards and outfits. I love the behind the scenes of what occurs to get the final product of a photo as well as the experience of creating new worlds through my photographs with friends. The zine was made based on one of my favorite shoots with my friend Olivia Campos. It was the night before the shoot where I realized that I was excited but I didn’t fully understand what my purpose was for the photographs. This is where my idea for the Lily Pad Zine came from. I felt that I needed to create a space where I could give my work a platform but alongside it have artists from around the world showcase their art all under one theme but with different takes on it. I cannot say that making this was easy. It took a lot of time to first build the website, gain research on the zine community, reach out to other zines, and also just start getting submissions. But I can honestly say that it was all worth it and I am so thankful that I jumped right into this project. I find that I have found a side of myself that doesn’t usually come out besides when I am shooting, editing, styling, or getting the website together. There is a spark that goes off which I think has become a really important factor in who I am and my understanding of who I am. This is when I must say that if you have ever felt a spark, chase it, hold it, enjoy it, and keep doing what you’re doing! I have learned along the way that if you want to create something do it! Because why not? I will also add that all you need is supportive friends, and the passion and drive to jump right in headfirst. I want people to know that the Lily Pad Zines’ goal is to give a spotlight on artists and a place of passion, support, compassion, and originality.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If my best friend was visiting me in Los Angeles, I would begin our day with lunch at Cafe Gratitude on Larchmont in Hollywood. Cafe Gratitude serves up amazing food that is Vegan and all-natural and honestly, your tastebuds will thank you. From there we would head to one of LA’s biggest destinations, the Griffith observatory, or perhaps, a concert at the Hollywood bowl. The list of incredible musicians that come to play there is worth the hassle of parking. The good news is if you don’t feel like driving there’s usually shuttles or an Uber. Back to eating, which is definitely a priority of mine, is Sterling Farms in Malibu for brunch on Sunday, and Smorgusburg which also happens every Sunday. Two completely different atmospheres but you can decide “beach mood or melting pot city mood.” Sterling Farms is the cutest farmers market in malibu that also happens to have an outside mini-cafe where you can order some of the best gluten-free pizzas and salads and eat all of it right there on picnic tables. Smorgusburg is one of my favorite places located in downtown LA at The Row. It is heaven for the foodie inside you, as every kind of food truck is there along with a good amount of vendors to bring culture, art, and fashion together on one, very long block. In the same area as Smorgusborg, is The Row, which is two blocks of stores and has a solid amount of clothing stores that are handmade, sustainable, and unique! Thrifting is also a biggie for me and my best friend, so we would have to venture to Atwater Village in Silver Lake to grab a bite to eat but also look at some super cool stores to buy some great vintage clothes. If she was staying the weekend, day two would most definitely be a beach and/or hike day at Point Dume, Stunt Mountain, or the Hollywood Bat Caves.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I must give my first shout out to my parents. They have always been my biggest supporters and with the zine especially they gave me the confidence and support to just jump right in. I also must appreciate and thank my friends for being the best listeners and help bounce ideas off of me during the beginning stages of the zine. Due to the fact that my friends are all immensely talented in the arts, they have helped me so much by submitting their work and even joining the Lily Pad Zine team! With that, I want to shout out the Lily Pad Zine Team. My team, although not all of us have met as I started this at the start of quarantine, have been so on top of it and are always thinking outside the box! In addition, I want to thank my dance studio, Degas Dance Studio, for showing me from the age of twelve the importance of the arts and especially the importance of lifting each other up and supporting all artists.
Photo number one, wide shot in house is by Tarina Tarantino. The rest of the photographs are by myself, Keely Chambers.