Kelly Langley, PhD is a native Oklahoman, retired educator, and 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 landscape photographs 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 usually centers on the last piece I worked on. For years I would describe my capture and development process. I would explain the techniques I used and the details I emphasized to draw the viewer’s eye across the canvas. I would tell how I would spend weeks reworking a composition until I was satisfied that I had justly presented its best reality, only to discard that rendition a year later and begin again from scratch.
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 takes me back to the summer afternoons I spent atop my grandmother’s cellar 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 still feel the coarseness of the cement cellar against the back of my legs as I dangled them off the edge. Most of all, I remember the sense of wonder and awe I felt at the first lightning strike.
My journey from film to digital photography has been a challenge that I have enjoyed. Although photography basics such as composition and lighting remain unchanged, post-processing techniques have grown exponentially. Unlike the darkroom, the digital medium offers exciting, almost unlimited horizons for creative expression. I primarily use Adobe Creative Suite for editing and postproduction. This powerful tool allows me to not only accomplish technical soundness but also reach a level of creativity I was never able to realize in the darkroom.