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All Grown Up: Kelly Tunney

Laura Peppas

When Kelly Tunney was an emerging wedding photographer in the mid noughties, Canberra’s photography industry was a far cry from what it is now.

“It was very much your sort of stock standard, mainstream wedding photos and there weren’t many people really pushing the boundaries with their photography or art,” Kelly says.

“Nowadays weddings have evolved to ‘anything goes’, there’s no limits to what some people will do because they see it as an opportunity to express themselves creatively instead of just going through the motions.”

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Kelly herself has been known to push the boundaries with her wedding photography: each image on her website paints a vivid, intimate and unique portrait, cleverly capturing the raw emotions of a wedding day.

Her eye for capturing those special moments hasn’t gone unnoticed – among her many awards, she has been named the AIPP ACT wedding photographer of the year three times, including this year.

“[Winning] this year was a bit unexpected, as it’s really competitive now,” Kelly says.

“It’s always such a lovely surprise to be recognised for something you are so passionate about doing.”

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Unlike other photographers, who often don’t develop their craft until later in life, Kelly says being behind the lens is all she’s ever known.

“I studied photography straight after year 12, and then continued to practice, around the time getting married and having kids and that sort of thing,” she says.

Unsure of which path she wanted to follow, Kelly worked in Human Resources in the public service for about five years, before family tragedy struck.

“My husband and I had twins, and lost one of our boys when he was a day old,” says Kelly.

“At that point I was still doing a bit of photography but it kind of changed our whole life. I decided it was a good opportunity to sink my teeth into photography full time and it meant I didn’t have to leave my son because it was quite a traumatic time. So in 2006, I officially started my business.”

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Word of Kelly’s talents got around quick and she went from photographing 30 or 40 weddings per year to almost 70.

“Wedding photography has opened me up to a whole new world,” she says.

“Before I had barely been past New Zealand but photographing weddings has enabled me to travel to places like Greece and the UK. I also love that weddings are so creative now, they’re anything you want them to be, that’s why I’ve been doing it for so long, because it keeps me creative, it’s never stagnant, it’s always different.”

Two years ago, Kelly teamed up with fellow photographer Dan O’Day to start their own photography and film business, All Grown Up Weddings, but continues to operate her individual business in addition.

She says one of the main challenges ahead for the world of photography is “standing out from the crowd.”

“Now with Pinterest and blogging, there’s so much inspiration and photography in our faces so it’s actually really hard as an artist to stand alone,” she says.

“I think experience is the key, it’s important you have a photographer who can handle sometimes unexpected situations. I also think it’s important to show diversity and not sort of pigeon hole yourself. What I’ve learnt is classic, contemporary and timeless always shines through. For me it’s about the emotive: weddings are very emotional for people and there’s a lot of energy but at the same time I want to show people their wedding is very unique.”

You can find more information on Kelly at kellytunney.com.au 

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Laura Peppas

Laura Peppas is HerCanberra's senior journalist and communications manager and is the Editor of Unveiled, HerCanberra's wedding magazine. She is enjoying uncovering all that Canberra has to offer, meeting some intriguing locals and working with a pretty awesome bunch of women. Laura has lived in Canberra for most of her life and when she's not writing fervently she enjoys pursuing her passion for travel, reading, online shopping and chai tea. More about the Author

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