We had the pleasure of asking Holly Kehrt and Scott Stulberg some questions. They are partners in photography and life. Thanks for sharing your stories with us!
Daylighted: Tell us the story of how you guys met.
Holly Kehrt: When I met Scott I had been wanting to take a photography class for some time but had no idea where to start. One day while I was looking through a Travel and Leisure magazine I saw an article on the best photography schools in America. I tore out the article and waited a while before I went online to check out the classes. When I saw Scott's picture by one of the basic photography classes, I said to myself “I'm going to sign up for this class, and hopefully I'm going to date him!” The first night of the class, I fell in love with his photography and I knew that somehow I had to get his attention. I made some excuses for him to give me some extra instruction with my camera and after that he invited me to join another class the following weekend. We ended up starting to really like each other that day and have been together ever since. That was over five years ago and I'm so happy that I was reading that Travel and Leisure magazine long ago.
DL: Give us some details about shooting together. How did you know you wanted to spend the rest of your lives taking pictures together? Was photography a big part of your courtship? Your relationship?
Scott Stulberg: After traveling the globe by myself for many years, shooting in so many countries, I have to tell you that it's a complete different experience traveling with someone you really care about. It is so romantic being in places like Santorini, Greece or Paris, France, and it's so much nicer than I ever could have imagined. Being in some incredible places with the love of my life, who also loves photography and takes amazing pictures -- I guess I could say it's just what the doctor ordered. It’s something I always dreamt about and always wanted but never thought it might even be remotely possible. I think the fact that we both love photography so much really helped not only bring us together but really makes our lives pretty interesting and always different. We pretty much eat, breathe, and think photography every day as it is pretty much intertwined with everything we do.A new bride in the Greek Island of Santorini - Holly Kehrt
DL: Tell us about traveling around together. What are some of the most exciting places you’ve been? Who chooses where you go? Where is the next place on your list? Have you ever been anywhere dangerous?
HK: We have been to so many great places together. I had dreamed of being able to travel so much when I was younger. I have a vision box still, with pictures of some of my favorite places, Paris and the Greek islands. Now I can say that I have been to many of those places I dreamt about and I am so grateful. Photographing locations with Scott is so much work but so incredibly rewarding. Fifteen hour days walking everywhere can be so tough but also so rewarding in the end. I absolutely love going to Thailand with Scott and although Bangkok is like Las Vegas on steroids, we both love going to the Thai islands where we get to chill out. And of course, next door is Burma, probably our favorite country to photograph. I have been there with Scott a few times for workshops that he has taught and it's a place that dreams are made of. His book Passage to Burma captures so much of this enchanting place. I'm so excited that we have two more upcoming workshops there, the first one next February. I absolutely feel so at peace being over there and Scott calls Burma his home away from home. What we are able to capture--the monks, temples, monasteries, the local people and the amazing way of life--is something we both can never get enough of. We just finished a workshop in the South of France shooting the gorgeous white Camargue horses that inhabit a small area over there. There's nothing like really pushing your photography skills and trying to capture 15 horses running at full speed right at you!
DL: Tell us about your businesses. Do you work together? Are you both full time? Do you shoot on commission? Do you sell fine art?
SS: Yes, it is full-time for sure. We seem to either be photographing or working in the office seven days a week. There is always so much going on -- working with our agencies, preparing for photography classes, getting images ready and sent out, working on our photography workshops which is incredibly time-consuming, certainly way too many emails, and so much time working in Photoshop. Instead of the darkroom where I literally grew up, Photoshop has become a way of life. I love that Holly has become so adept at it and she amazes me so often with what she comes up with. A good part of the time we’re both working on different images on our twin 27 inch iMacs and it’s actually pretty cool doing this side-by-side in our office in our home, here in Sedona. I’m not sure it could really be any better actually. We do work a lot, but our jobs are definitely not as stressful as what a lot of other people do.
I have never really shot on commission although I have been flown to five star hotels in exotic locations to capture the hotel and grounds for their brochures and website. I prefer capturing my own vision and I love what we do. We sell images all over the world and it's so humbling knowing that people really like what you have created. It's also nice to know that you have images in some pretty cool places like major hospitals and even on permanent display in the United Nations. It is such a great feeling to know that all of your hard work and vision can pay off in some pretty amazing ways -- making money from what I love is really the icing on the cake. I always dreamt of this as a kid and I guess I'm just living my dream now.
DL: Let’s talk about gear. What do you take traveling with you? What are your favorite lenses?
SS: We both shoot with Canon gear. It's great to have the same systems because we can share and we can take more gear with us when we travel because there are two of us. We usually have, along with our camera bodies, everything from a 15 mm fisheye up to at least our 300 or 400 mm telephoto lenses. Sometimes I bring my Canon 500 mm, which is one of my favorite lenses in the world, but it's definitely a beast to lug around. Holly's favorite lens most of the time is her 24 -105. Although it is an F/4 and not a 2.8, the extra reach and the fact that it has an image stabilizer is a game changer for travel photography. I guess that's a favorite lens for both of us because we use it so much for our photography. I also use my 14 mm quite often as I am a huge super wide angle lover. We also both love the 70-200 f/2.8. The sharpness and yumminess of that lens is priceless. I also take my GPS, lightning trigger, cable releases, sensor cleaning stuff, flashes, reflectors, diffusers, and usually a lot more. We both really need to travel light but I hate when I forget to bring a particular lens or something. We usually tailor our gear to each trip, trying to figure out what we do and don't need. Checklists are great for travel photography, before and during your trips.
DL: What are your goals for photography and what do you struggle with in your photographic process?
SS: For both of us, a big goal really is to venture out and capture more of this amazing world. We want to create art that we are proud of and that people take notice of. Creating things that people remember is definitely important to us and we don't want to do the same thing as everyone else is doing. I think what we're doing is working because we do get a lot of notice and it really makes it all worthwhile. We are doing what we love and others seem to like it as well and we really couldn't ask for anything more.
HK: For Scott, his love for teaching is a huge part of what drives him and I think he will help others with photography for as long as he lives. That is part of what drew me to him: watching him teach, his passion for photography, and willingness to help others. Now, I get to help others with their photography and that means the world to me. I never thought I would ever be in that position but it's a pretty great feeling to be able to help others create better images.
DL: Tell us the story of your favorite photograph
HK: The photograph that is one of our favorites but also was the most intense to capture involved having 18 monks lined up in rows, praying, while holding tea lights in their hands. We were in a monastery in Yangon, the capital of Burma, and the hours and hours of preparation were so intense and thought out. Scott had a vision that involved a dark monastery with monks’ faces only lit by candlelight, with them looking down at the candles: a very moody and special moment. Scouting out the location, dealing with the Monkmasters, working with 18 of the most adorable little monks in their gorgeous saffron robes, working in almost pitch black and trying to get them all posed just how he envisioned was something that I will never forget. Just trying to find the tea lights somewhere in the city was a mission in itself. But choreographing the entire scene in this amazing monastery with all of the older monks watching and wondering what we were doing really was one of the most special moments either of us have ever had in our lives. Scott has said that it was probably the hardest project that he has ever undertaken, and the results were definitely worth it. We both ended up with some of the most beautiful and compelling images we have ever done. The image is hanging up in our living room and we get to relive that amazing memory every day. There really is nothing else like photography. Nothing!