Kelly Langley, PhD is an Oklahoma native and a member of the Chickasaw Nation. Her early interest in photography was rekindled while living in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah and exploring the wonders of our national parks. Though many of her images are reminiscent of her rural Oklahoma background, her portfolio reflects a wide range of subjects fostered by her keen interest in the world around us and her love of travel.
Patrons often ask me, Which is your favorite photograph? My response has always been, The last one I worked on. For years I would explain my development process. I would detail the techniques I used and the areas I emphasized to draw the viewer’s eye across the canvas. I would tell how I would spend weeks, in some cases years, reworking a composition until I was satisfied that I had justly presented its best reality.
Lately, I find my answer to this question has changed. My favorite photograph is still the last one I worked on, but instead of the techniques and strategies I used, I find myself relaying more information about how I responded to the scene and the emotion the piece evoked in me. For example, a work titled “Panhandle Storm” always causes me to recall the summer afternoons I spent atop the cellar of my grandmother’s house watching storms pass by the Wichita Mountains. I can still hear my grandmother’s voice as she explained the different stages of a storm’s development. I can feel the coarseness of the cement cellar top as I dangled my legs off the edge, and I remember the surprise I felt at the first lightning strike.
More times than not, the patron will respond by conveying their emotional response to the photograph or recount a memory triggered by the image. These recollections are almost always of a happier, less complicated time in their life. And for a brief moment, we become old friends. These exchanges are far more satisfying and I find they guide my pursuit of new works.
My journey from film to digital photography has been a challenge that I have embraced with enthusiasm. Unlike the darkroom, the digital medium offers exciting, almost unlimited horizons for creative expression. I primarily use Adobe Photoshop for editing and postproduction. This powerful tool allows me to not only accomplish technical soundness but reach a level of creativity I was never able to realize in the darkroom.