Kaylee Culler Wanted a Self Portrait But Her Dog Had a Better Idea

Kaylee Culler

“I don’t want pictures; I want memories,” says family portrait photographer Kaylee Culler who’s based out of South Carolina. What was planned to be a self-portrait shoot turned into one for her pup Frodo, who pretty much aimed to be the star of the evening.

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The Essential Camera Gear of Kaylee Culler

“I use the Canon SL1 with a standard 18-55mm lens. I got a pretty good bargain on it a couple of years ago. I haven’t upgraded since because I just haven’t found the need as of yet. My dad always told me that if you don’t have enough experience and practice with what you already have, then even if you were to buy a top-of-line camera and lens, it wouldn’t matter because it would be in the hands of an amateur. So for now, I choose to hone my craft with what I have.”

The Phoblographer: Hi Kaylee. Please tell us about yourself and how you got into photography.

Kaylee Culler: Well, I first got into photography from my father. He was always my inspiration. I would go with him when he did his own shoots, and it was always so much fun to see them light up in front of the camera or even my dad’s reaction when he knew he got the perfect shot. Growing up with a photographer as a parent wasn’t always fun because he was the guy that came to our school plays with full camera gear and his tan vest loaded to the brim with different filters or lenses.

During my senior year of high school was when I really started wanting to get into it more and more, but at that point, it was just a hobby. Currently, I am working night shifts at a hospital, so that doesn’t leave much room for getting out to take good pictures, but I am trying to go full-time with my photography business nonetheless.

The Phoblographer: A self-portrait shoot where your puppy ended up taking center stage. Tell us more about this fun event.

Kaylee Culler: I was trying to take some self-portraits in my small apartment because I never seem to have any good ones of myself, especially for branding purposes, and I wanted to try and show off my creativity. My fiance was in the room with me, trying to help, and when I got up, he set our little pup on the table; that’s when I got the shot. We tried to get different poses, but the rest didn’t seem to do right as we could only get him to look at the camera if we had his favorite treat in our hand.

The Phoblographer: Did he see the final picture and react to it? Did you eventually get your portrait taken that day?

Kaylee Culler: We showed him the picture we took, and he licked that screen on the back of the camera and just went about doing what dogs do. His name is Frodo, like from Lord of the Rings, so next shoot I think we will try and do a themed one dressed up as a hobbit or something.

The Phoblographer: Is he an active participant in your other photoshoots as well, or a keen bystander instead?

Kaylee Culler: I like to take a lot of candid pictures because I try to capture real emotion. I don’t want pictures; I want memories. So a lot of the time, we go for walks, and I will bring my camera along. Frodo does tend to come along, so he is a bystander at many shoots or rather just a keen observer.

The Phoblographer: Pet portraits are popular these days. Based on this shoot, are you planning on adding this service to your portfolio?

Kaylee Culler: I am, in fact, thinking of adding pet portraits to my portfolio. I would love to work with them, but I don’t know if I am skilled enough in that department just yet. For now, I will continue to practice with my little pup. But I think I will stick with regular portraits; I feel that’s where I am called. I love emotion in its rawest form, and that’s what I want to see through my lens.

All images by Kaylee Culler. Used with permission. Drop by her website and her Instagram and Facebook pages to see more of her work

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Feroz Khan

Never seen without a camera (or far from one), Feroz picked up the art of photography from his grandfather at a very early age (at the expense of destroying a camera or two of his). Specializing in sports photography and videography for corporate short films, when he’s not discussing or planning his next photoshoot, he can usually be found staying up to date on aviation tech or watching movies from the 70s era with a cup of karak chai.