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"You have to wait for things to happen rather than overdetermine it.
More often than not, the subject will do something you never would have dreamed of.
Practice capturing a moment. A real moment that's not directed, takes practice. This is real."

- Mary Ellen Mark

Kelly Sweda

Photo of me and my kids by Shelby Brakken

I am a Santa Barbara lifestyle photographer specializing in family photography and fashion editorial. The mother of a teenager and a seven-year-old, I am drawn to the beauty of people experiencing the world around them. My work is natural, emotive and light-inspired.
Growing up with photographer father who was never without his camera, I don't remember film canisters and the rush of retrieving prints from the drug store not being part of my everyday life. A writer first, I earned a B.A. in journalism from UC Santa Cruz in 2000, then studied photojournalism as a graduate student at the University of Montana School of Journalism from 2000-2002.  
I serve the families of Santa Barbara and maintain domestic and international clients with my commercial work. I offer travel sessions regularly and am available for commissioned shoots worldwide. I've been included on an international list of the "Top 100 Photographers to Watch," by Click & Company, a highly regarded family of brands that empowers photographers to capture life beautifully.
My commercial clients include GapKids, Stride Rite, Beru Kids and American Colors Clothing. My work has been published in Huffpost Style, Santa Barbara Magazine and Click magazine; as well as numerous local publications, children’s, style and photography publications and blogs. A complete listing can be found here.
Aside from photography, family and friends, I enjoy the beach, hiking, traveling, reading, healthy eating, white wine, morning coffee, a clean house and homemade soup.