WELD Artist of the Week: Kelly DeLay
All too often in life we get so absorbed or preoccupied in our day-to-day that we forget to look up. But Kelly has made a point to keep his head in the clouds, literally and figuratively . . . And the end result has more than paid off.
What made you first realize the potential in the sky above you? And why did you decide to share your perspective with the world?
My previous day job always seemed to zap the creative drive out of me, but I refused to stop snapping pictures in my free time. I quickly noticed that there was a pattern in the images I was taking — the upward two-thirds of the image were of the space above the actual subject. I was fixated on the sky. I actually dreamt I hosted an art show called “100 Days of Clouds” where square prints of 100 sky images I had taken throughout the year were mounted on the wall for all to see. I was having a creative epiphany — I needed to peel my eyes from the computer screen and look up, or I was missing out. Searching for a better excuse to express my creativity, learn my equipment, understand the weather and its patterns — but most importantly, to stick to something through completion — I jumped in with both feet and built Clouds365. It didn’t take long before people started sending me their images of the sky. Within a matter of months, my Facebook page reached its limit for images (30,000) and the number of fans climbed from 500 to 20k. My images struck a chord with others, so I had to keep going.
You’re now up to 1422 consecutive days of capturing the sky; what have been some of your most memorable captures?
A couple comes to mind: One I was on a business trip in D.C, and when I left my hotel I noticed the rain had cleared and a cumulonimbus storm cloud eclipsed the US Capitol Building. Another came about as I was wrapping up my first year of Cloud365. My wife and I were visiting Vegas at the time, and decided to take a helicopter to the Grand Canyon. It was raining when we first got there, but quickly stopped, and I was able to snap what is still one of my favorite images to date.
The sky is one of the most unique, ever changing pieces of art. That said, have you ever seen two seemingly identical sunrises or sunsets?
While the hues of sunrises and sunsets have always been the same (despite seasonal variations), I’ve noticed a trend in the images I’ve collected over the years — The sky seemed to look strikingly similar on the same calendar day over the course of three years. Of course, I travel more often now so I’m not capturing images in the same place like I used to, but the pieces I have to reflect on always amaze me. Here’s an example: Clouds365.com.
What tools have proven most helpful in promoting your work?
First and foremost, I believe that every artist must reach a level of confidence in their work that they’re able to just put it out there for others to share and enjoy. And social mediums are a perfect platform to do so. Facebook and Google+ seem to be the strongest available outlets to share images (at least in my situation with Facebook and Google+). And I also personally heavily rely on SEO and keyword tagging through my Wordpress blog. But I’m constantly looking for new ways to share my work and absorb inspiration from others — the available outlets are endless.
Some days you’re shooting from your backyard, others your chasing storms. What does that process look like — How do you know where you’ll be each day?
It really just depends. This past week I spent travelling across several states with storm chasing friends. Together we identify trending elements in the sky, notice where Supercells are forming, and we’ll identify a target. Some days that means I’m travelling with the clouds — wherever they go, I go.
How has your work evolved over the course of this project?
Truly this project, and any other successful project I’ve been a part of — whether for myself or a client — has taken a good three years to be fully realized and grow legs. Specifically with this project, I look back on my work and notice that my best images were captured towards the end of the third year. It wasn’t until the last couple of months that I’ve identified my photographic “style,” and I think it will forever continue to change. Whatever comes next, I promise to give it my best for a minimum of three years. There’s too much great content at risk not to.
Kelly understands that this project, like most any other creative undertaking, will eventually conclude itself. The trick is to absorb as much as possible in the meantime: about yourself, your giftings, and the direction you want your life to take. Never stop travelling, never stop capturing, and keep your eye in the sky. Who knows? It just might lead you somewhere better than if you were to keep your feet firmly planted.