We had the good fortune of connecting with Kelly Balch and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kelly, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
When I thought about starting my business, I knew I would be taking a lot of risks; no health benefits, no cushion to catch me if I fall, no experience whatsoever. The only thing that had me willing to at least try was my drive and passion for doing what I love. My gut feeling was if I followed what I loved doing, the rest would come easy. Growing up, my parents taught me about work ethic, about being kind to people, treat others the way you want to be treated, and once you see a vision clearly, you’d know where to go. Those were some of the tools that helped build the confidence I needed to take this leap of faith, veering in the direction of the unknown and uncomfortability. It took a lot of balls, but also heart. And my gut was right, everything else came into fruition, because I was doing what I was passionate about. The passion and love behind it fueled everything to help start my own business.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’ve been a professional wedding photographer for 11 years now, and started doing LGBTQ+ weddings before they were legal. I am incredibly proud and honored to be recognized, along with my other colleagues, to have pioneered the LGBTQ+ wedding industry. I’ve creating workshops, mentor sessions, and taught other aspiring LGBTQ+ and LGBTQ+ allies on how to set their business apart and capture same sex couples weddings/elopements. To have that kind of acknowledgment didn’t come easy, and came with a lot of backlash with losing clients, name calling, and even shunning in some wedding magazines and blogs. Thankfully, a lot has changed now, and over the past 11 years, the wedding industry has beautifully not only accepted LGBTQ+ weddings, but embraced them in nearly every big magazine and blog in the industry. I don’t just photograph LGBTQ+ couples, but any couple who embraces love fully, and not afraid to tell the world, this is us and we don’t fucking care. Couples who are brave and adventurous, who want to make a mark on the world with their love.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Well my best friends live in Los Angeles, But for my other friends who don’t, haha, I would start them out in my area in Highland Park! Highland Park is definitely a new and up and coming area that has some really good vegan restaurants and bars. We’d eat at Hinterhof, having a delicious all vegan German cuisine and beer. We’d then go to Highland Park Bowl and go bowling at the bowling alley where they kept the amazing interior that transports you back to the 1920’s. The following day we’d hit the beach of course, and go to Santa Monica pier and check out the rides and games. 3rd st. promenade is in walking distance, where we can shop and check out the talented street artists. We’d then take a little drive down south for a few minutes to Venice Beach and Abbot Kinney and eat at some of their amazing vegan restaurants like Plant Food + Wine or The Butcher’s Daughter! The following day we’d go to the Arts District a little north of downtown Los Angeles. Showing them around the cool industrial architecture and murals. Then go into some really classy and dope speakeasies like In Sheep’s Clothing, my favorite, and sip on some fine Japanese whiskey. After, we’ll hit up Angel City Brewery. The following day we’d eat at a really great restaurant in downtown LA fashion District called DAMA, where they have the best Latin American food. These are some of my favorite neighborhoods in LA, and some of the best eats and drinks I’ve had!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My shoutouts go to someone who inspires me to keep creating and thinking outside the box with their art. They work their ass off for every shot, even creating it from the styling, props she creates, location, everything, every shot I see is inspirational and so damn creative. She works her ass off for not enough credit and payment, and I think she deserves all the followers from this shoutout! My shoutout goes to Natasha Wilson! Love you girl! I also want to shout out and recognize my LGBTQ+ wedding photographer colleagues, Steph Grant, Tara Robertson Photography, and Jamie Thrower from StudioXII Photography. They are the first who paved the way for same sex couples to be recognized in today’s big wedding magazines and blogs. I’m incredibly honored to know and get inspired by these ladies.
Photographer – @kellybalch