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Shutterstock Portrait Studio: Stacy Keck at CreativeMornings/SanDiego

For the last three years with Shutterstock, we worked with photographers to capture the spirit of CreativeMornings' attendees in chapters around the world. Together, we’ve collected over 2,000 portraits.

A good portrait tells the truth about a person in that moment in time—not the whole truth, but close to it. It’s an intimate dynamic that requires connection, patience, and acuity of the subject’s spirit.

We interviewed each talented photographer to learn to see what they see when they raise the camera.


Meet Stacy Keck, freelance portrait, wedding, and lifestyle photographer based in San Diego.

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What is it about portraiture that inspires you?

Portraiture – and photography in general – has brought so much richness to my life. I got into photography in the first place because cubicle-life just wasn’t entertaining enough. I’ve met some of my best friends through photography.

Portraiture is a personal exchange—how do you get your subjects to open up? What do you say or do?

No one likes having their photo taken, so it’s a unique situation to find yourself in. There’s a lot of trust involved. I think this is why selfies are so pervasive – because the photo subject him/herself is in control of making an acceptable photo. But this also works to my advantage, because most people are used to seeing poorly lit, blurry photos of themselves that were taken on a phone. I like to take a few photos and then show them the back of the camera to get them excited. Most people are amazed by the clarity and quality, and then they get pumped to keep shooting. I can also be really clumsy, so tripping over things is a solid way to score some genuine smiles.

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At what moment do you know you successfully captured someone’s spirit or personality? How do you know?

It’s easy to tell when someone’s faking it, which makes it easy to tell when they’re being real. I have a rule that I keep shooting 10 minutes longer than planned, or than feels comfortable. This is usually when the magic happens; it’s an opportunity to freestyle a little and try something new. I also make a point to never put the camera down, as to capture those in-between moments when they may be a little less tense or let their guard down.

What advice would you give to people just picking up a camera, ready to explore the wonderful art of photography?

Ha, you make it sound so glamorous. Everyone is a “photographer” these days, so to turn it from a hobby into a career takes a lot of work. My advice to those folks is to stay focused on your own vision and not pay too much attention to what others around you are doing. Cultivate your own style and workflow, and don’t get bummed out if you aren’t getting flown to Iceland or Paris all the time to take photos. Find out what works for you and what you’re good at, and then don’t ever stop doing it.

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See more of the CreativeMornings/SanDiego portraits.


Discover more of Stacy’s work on her website and Instagram.

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