Simply put, photography is the art, application and practice of creating durable images. For Denise Kelly of Lake George, it’s a unique and exciting hobby that allows her to capture special moments in time. Kelly is the June Artist of the Month for Park County Creative Alliance.
Kelly was born in Walnut Creek, Calif., but spent her childhood in Fallon, Nev. She acquired her love of photography at a young age and enjoyed taking pictures of just about anything with her Kodak 110 camera. During her junior year of high school, the family moved to Canon City, Colo., where she graduated from high school in 1987.
During high school, she took photography courses and even worked in a photography shop developing photos. Thankfully, digital photography came about, which saved her the expense of developing all her photos.
Kelly met her husband Mike in Canon City in 1991 and they were married at Lake Tahoe in 1993. They moved to Silverthorne shortly after and then to Lake George in 1995. The Kellys raised three children, and through it all, Kelly continued to photograph. She has driven the road through Eleven Mile Canyon for 26 years, which has given her ample opportunities to capture photos of a variety of wildlife and nature.
Last year Kelly had the opportunity to go on a bear -viewing photo shoot in Alaska. She flew into Lake Clark National Park and Preserve and and saw numerous brown bears and their cubs.
She and a close friend take a trip every year to some area of Colorado. They usually go in the fall and spend their days just taking photos of whatever they can, especially old barns, aspen trees and lake reflections.
She has also experimented with an underwater camera. “I had caught a trout on my fly rod and I was trying to get pictures of it under the water. It wasn’t easy as I was by myself, but I was pleased that I was able to get a few good pictures,” she explained.
Besides wildlife and nature, Kelly has photographed weddings and senior pictures. Capturing wildlife is her first love. She has become very familiar with the activities of the eagles at Eleven Mile Canyon. She has several photos of them raising their young. She developed a deep admiration for the eagles.
In February of 2019, a neighbor came across an injured eagle and told her where it was. Kelly contacted the Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the local rehabilitator per the CPW website. They sent a few people out and determined the eagle was in fact injured.
After several unsuccessful attempts to capture it, the eagle, in an attempt to avoid capture, hopped down into a culvert. They were unable to coax him out. It was getting late and a storm was moving in, so plans were made to come back the next morning. They were going to leave, but Kelly offered to crawl down into the culvert and try and net him.
She did manage to get the net over him and she pulled him slowly toward her and carefully backed out. The eagle was placed in a pet carrier and transported to a veterinarian.
The rehabilitator determined that the eagle’s wing was broken or dislocated. Kelly was contacted and was allowed to observe them putting the wing back in place. He was taken to the Pueblo Raptor Center to recuperate. The eagle was given the name Miles, due to the distance to transport him back and forth between Woodland Park and Pueblo.
He survived the ordeal, and is currently living at the Raptor Center. “It was quite the experience and I felt proud that I got to help save an eagle’s life,” she said.
And of course, she was able to photograph the ordeal when she wasn’t crawling about the culvert trying to capture the eagle.
“There is a sense of excitement when I snap a picture and realize I’ve captured a moment forever,” she said.
“I sometimes sit and wait for the exact moment and take several shots trying to get the best picture I can and I want to share the experiences I’ve had enjoying nature’s beauty with others,” she further explained.
Kelly’s photographs are currently on display in the Mountain River Lodge and Cabins in Lake George and in rooms at the Lodge in Green Mountain Falls. She has card racks in some local businesses, including Granite Canyon General Store in Lake George.
She has experimented with different types of mounting styles for her photography; Tweeds in Woodland Park has purchased some of her slate mounts for resale.
The display in the lobby of Mountain River Lodge has several of her photographs and she has many ready to purchase. She can provide any of her photos in a variety of sizes and mounts. She also has several photo books of even more photographs to choose from. She is hoping someday to have her work available in various galleries and she is working on showcasing her work on the Park County Creative Alliance web site, parkcreates.org.
Anyone wishing to see her work can contact her at email@example.com and she will be more than happy to arrange a time to meet.
Park County Creative Alliance is an organization uniting Park County through the arts while helping to support and promote local artists from all genres such as writers, musicians, painters, photographers and so much more. Learn more about PCCA by visiting the website parkcreates.org. Be sure and pick up an Art in Adventuring Map found in various locations throughout Park County and a little beyond. PCCA can also be found on Facebook.