Kelley Wenzel. Photographer. Human. Celebrator of fellow humans.
I launched Pear Tree Photography Atlanta in late 2011, when I had had my fill of corporate America. In fact, I was running and screaming (“I’m free at last!”) the whole way home after I turned in my laptop, work cellphone, and employee security badges. I may have even used jazz hands and turned a cartwheel, before realizing this was a recipe for disaster and broken bones. At which point, I shaped it up and tried to act my age as I stood in line at the county courthouse to become all legal with a state registered name, tax ID, and a city business license.
Before I knew it, I was on my way to following my dreams and doing something that actually mattered in the lives of other people. Being entrusted with and invited into the most important events of strangers and some of their most intimate moments when professing their love for one another? I consider that a high privilege. Creating photographs of these sacred moments and giving those memories back to people is stunningly powerful.
Seeing normally chatty people lock their jaws, search for words and quietly wipe out wetness from the corners of their eyes as they are faced with images of the people they love the most...that resonates with me as I’m preserving moments that are important to them and will be cherished for decades. Shockingly, creating spreadsheets and delivering monthly network outage reports to Fortune 100 companies was not nearly as fulfilling.
While my photographs have been published in Minnesota’s 2012 Parade of Homes magazine (featuring the very first Energy Efficient Green Home in the state of Minnesota), images of the American Taekwondo Association Grandmaster Soon Ho Lee with Karate Atlanta owners routinely included in the national ATA publication (2012 and counting), and a Canton, Georgia tennis court wedding in Atlanta’s Winter 2013 Net News magazine, these aren’t the moments that cover my refrigerator or put a smile on my face as I fall asleep at night.
Good fortune has befallen Pear Tree Photography Atlanta, bringing really only the most fabulous clients. People who are open to whatever creativity will be used to tell their stories. Some who have waited decades to exchange vows, but have always put love first, appreciated the little things, and who champion their partner in the same breath that they poke fun at themselves. Who know there might not be a happily ever after because marriage takes work, but they wouldn’t choose anyone else to share this journey. And somehow, they all restore my faith in humanity, marriage, and family that life is better than the tabloids. That people matter.
Finding similarities and what connects us may be at the heart of my focus. But just in case you side with my husband and feel that my love for 60s and 70s hippie folk music is for the birds, that’s okay. Because I’m just as enamored with finding and celebrating our differences and what makes you...you.
When we're together, I'll be honest with you. I'll tell you if you have broccoli in your teeth, if your fly is down, if you need to suck in your stomach or stick out your chin because I know you won't like the image otherwise. I expect you to do the same for me, ok? And I'll tell you if I'm having fun with you, I think your hair is on point, if I like your shoes, or how you love your own people and hold them tight. Not because I'm sucking up (remember how I left corporate? I'm incapable of false niceties), but because life is short and I think it sucks to hold back kind words.
I have been accused of being a ninja. I’m not really sure what that means, but it sounds fun and exciting and possibly a little dangerous. And since I focus on photographing the love people share with their most significant others and then giving those images back to my people in slideshows, albums and large-as-life canvases that warm their hearts and make them fall in love with their families all over again for years to come, I suppose being a ninja may not be all bad. Especially if that means I can rock my red boots when photographing down to earth people who know that people matter most. And that love is what connects us all.
While I am based in Atlanta, I travel. A lot. I have regular clients in Minneapolis I see every year (and sometimes, every month or quarter). I've met my people in the Florida panhandle for a high school senior session that started in Roswell, Universal Studios in Orlando for college tennis players, and at the very bottom of the state in Fort Myers Beach for an engagement session. I've met my people in San Diego, Austin, St. Louis, New York City, the Grand Canyon, and even the Dominican Republic. Just because Atlanta is part of my business name, let's not let that limit us in location, ok? I think we both know that it's in my business name for SEO purposes and finding more of my locals.