On this first episode of What Makes You Click, Host and DC-based portrait photographer, Kelvin Bulluck, gives you a look into his background, his photography journey, and his intentions for this podcast. Having felt intense inspiration from listening to photographers speak about their journeys, Kelvin was driven to make such conversations and lessons available to all aspiring photographers.
He created What Makes You Click to be a powerful resource for photographers who are interested in portraiture, fashion, beauty, commercial, celebrity photography, and beyond.
Essentially, you’ll learn what makes photographers click!
Kelvin shares more on what you will learn throughout these upcoming episodes and sheds light on the diversity he looks forward to capturing with each guest in each episode.
Mentorship, especially in the photography industry, is so important in learning and evolving as an artist… so let your mentorship start here!
“If you don’t leave at the end of every episode having taken something away from what these amazing creatives have shared, you might even rewind and listen again or check your pulse to make sure you’re alive.” - Kelvin Bulluck
If you have any friends or loved ones that would benefit from this knowledge-packed podcast, be sure to share it with them!
About the Host:
Kelvin Bulluck is a DC-based portrait photographer that specializes in fashion, editorial and beauty imagery. His work has been featured in various print and on-line publications such as Essence, Rolling Out Magazine, The Washingtonian, Baltimore Magazine, Baltimore Style Magazine, Dark Beauty Magazine, Fashion Bomb Daily and Bmore Art Journal, just to name a few. His style is best described as clean, while encompassing a spirit of simplicity, allowing viewers to fully take in his subjects.
Connect with Kevin Bulluck:
Visit his website: www.kelbpics.com
Follow him on Instagram: www.instagram.com/kelbpics
Connect with him on Facebook: www.facebook.com/Kel.B.Pics.Photography
Connect with What Makes You Click:
Visit our website: www.whatmakesyouclick.com
Follow us on Instagram: www.instagram.com/whatmakesyouclickpodcast
Connect with us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/whatmakesyouclick
[00:00:00-00:00:46] - Show Introduction
[00:00:46-00:01:59] - Explanation of Personal industry Experience
[00:01:59-00:05:00] - Inspiration – Purpose of The Show | Guests and Show Framework
[00:05:00 -00:06:20] - My Personal Background – Where I am from?
[00:06:20-00:09:03] - Written Word | Writing and Poetry| Music – K-Suave
[00:09:03-00:10:23] – Point and Shoot Cannon Powershot
[00:10:23-00:12:55] – People Portraits: Capturing Stories Through Pictures
[00:12:56-00:15:06] – Start of My Professional Photography Career
[00:15:06-00:17:12] – Focusing on My Vision for Success | Does it Spark Joy?
[00:17:12-00:19:34] – Highlighting the Beauty of My People
[00:19:34-00:20:23] - What Makes Kelvin Click
[00:20:23-00:21:39] – Tips for Upcoming Photographers | Benefits of This Show
[00:21:39-00:23:16] – Available Resources
[00:23:16-00:24:47] – How to Stay Connected
What Makes You Click With Kelvin Bulluck
[Intro Music Playing]
Kelvin Bulluck: All right! Sounds like this thing is on and welcome to the show, everybody. I appreciate you for joining. My name is Kelvin Bulluck, and I am a DC-based portrait photographer. On this first episode of the show. I wanted to take some time to give you all a little bit of background about myself and the reason behind why I am doing this podcast.
Explanation of Personal industry Experience
Kelvin Bulluck: Let me just start off with, telling you the why behind what makes you click.
Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity to travel to different places and really work with some amazing people, but I also get the opportunity to connect with other photographers who are doing some amazing things in our industry. When I would sit down and have these conversations with these other photographers, I found myself just really in awe. I was inspired and just fired up after they would tell me these stories about their upbringing, their background, and how they ended up where they are today.
I used to think as I was having these discussions, wow, I wish everybody else could hear these stories and get this inspiration, and even hear some of the pitfalls and the things to avoid in this industry. It would be so helpful. Even to myself, I would think, man, I had I come across this information earlier in my career, I could have avoided X, Y, Z, or done better with X, Y, Z, whatever those things are.
Inspiration – Purpose of The Show | Guests and Show Framework
Kelvin Bulluck: I want it to create a show that could help other up and coming photographers who specialize more so in portraiture, fashion, beauty, commercial, celebrity. These were all the things that I was interested in and, and I kept coming across shows and resources that were more geared towards people who are doing wedding photography, event, photography, family photography. Nothing against those things, they just did not resonate with me and do not resonate with me, so those are not things that I really do in my business.
I wanted to create a resource that could be of tremendous value to photographers out there who are wanting to do more editorial and get into some celebrity photography or get into working with major fashion brands.
The guests that I have on this show will be working within those realms and, we will be learning about them. We will be learning about the things that drive them. We will be learning about their origin stories. We will be learning about some of the, the challenges that they have had to overcome.
From the discussions that I have had thus far, the amount of knowledge that is shared, it is mind blowing! If you do not leave at the end of every episode with having taken something away from, with these amazing, amazing creatives have shared, then you might either want to rewind and listen again or check your pulse to make sure you are alive. It is real out here in these podcast streets!
I am just so excited to share with you, those episodes!
Something else that was important to me when I decided to embark upon this podcast journey is, to really make sure that everyone was being represented.
Being a creator of color, I did come up not really seeing or hearing a lot from people who look like me. Although I am going to be having a number of guests, from all walks of life, I also want it to make sure that I was hearing from, people who look like me. Who came from similar backgrounds that I did, so that there are the listeners out there who may not feel like they are being represented, have somebody that they can look upon or even seek mentorship through whether that be from afar, through following them on social media and learning about the things that they are doing, or even reaching out to them? Never hurts the shoot, your shot.
On the show, it is going to be a diverse guest list. It is a little bit of everybody. Just be prepared for that, but also be open to learning from people who may not look like you.
My Personal Background – Where I am from?
Kelvin Bulluck: Let me talk a little bit about myself. This is always weird thing for me, because I would much rather hear other people talk about themselves than kind of share, about me. On a platform like this, it is important for you guys to know who you are listening to, and what relevance that I bring to the table.
Starting off, a bit about my past, I grew up as what someone would call an army brat. My mom was in the army. My dad was a police officer, so, we moved around quite a bit when I was growing up.
Primarily in the South, Alabama and North Carolina, Texas. We spent some time in Germany, but I was just a little too young to appreciate or enjoy, that assignment where my mom was stationed. Most of my formative years were spent in North Alabama. Deep in the South! That comes with its own set of challenges that I experienced.
I ended up going to a small university in North Alabama where I got my degree in psychology, in a minor in public communication.
Written Word | Writing and Poetry| Music – K-Suave
Kelvin Bulluck: When I was in high school and even when I was in college, my primary creative outlet that I found myself gravitating towards first was the written word in elementary and in middle school. I used to love writing short stories and finding little ways to create characters and tell different stories that popped into my head.
Then I came across poetry and I found that it was like a quick way in and creative way to tell a story in a way that rhymed.
I really got into storytelling through poetry and eventually, in the late nineties and early two thousands, there was really a big buzz around spoken word poetry. People would have poetry slams and, get up as they say, bless the mic with some rhymes. When I saw that that is what people were doing, I am like you know what I wanna experiment with that. I want to play around with that.
When I was in college an organization was formed, where this group of people would have open mic nights in the cafeteria, that was in between the dorms of where the man in the women stayed. Once or twice a month, they would have an open night and I would get up and go ahead and drop some rhymes, drop some flow on them. matter of fact, my stage name was K-Suave.
I did not name myself that, my roommate named me that. Primarily because, my first name is Kelvin, and the brand of lotion that I use back then was Suave. Some you might not know about that but some of you probably do. That is where K-Suave came from. He said I was suave with the words, I am like, you know what? I will go ahead and keep that. I will go ahead and keep that. That was how they to used, to introduce me.
That was how I would tell stories. I really enjoyed getting those stories out, but then also performing them.
There is a certain level of energy and liveliness that comes with performing in front of like a live audience and feeling the emotions of the room. That was like a pretty cool thing for me.
Then I graduated from school and entered the workforce and then real life happens and you start doing, the things to survive and pay the bills.
Point and Shoot Cannon Powershot
Kelvin Bulluck: Some time went on, and eventually, for Christmas my dad and my mom gave me a little point in shoot Canon PowerShot nothing too major. It was not even a DSLR, but they gave me this camera and I was like oh man dope! I have been wanting to get a camera or something I can carry around and take some photos with. I feel like I have always had somewhat of an eye. I remember as a child going places and I might see like a sunset or might see even a pretty woman and think Oh that would be a pretty picture. Since I did not have the equipment, nothing ever came of it. It was just a passing thought.
When I finally got this Canon PowerShot, I am already a full-grown adult. This had to have been 2010. I get this camera and I start taking it with me everywhere that I go.
If I am going for a walk in the neighborhood, I got it on me. If I am, going to a friend's house, I have got it with me. I just started taking pictures and if something stood out to me, I would take the photo.
People Portraits: Capturing Stories Through Pictures
Kelvin Bulluck: I remember one time I had a, a friend of mine was having like a 30th birthday party and she had like this luau theme. She went the whole, route with having the lays and the pig on the spit and, all the decorations.
When she told me that that is what she was doing, I was like, Hey, do you mind if I bring my camera with me? And she said, go ahead. Sure! I arrive and sure enough, she does have, all the different decor that would signify that this was a luau theme.
Sure enough, I started taking pictures and I would go around and get some really like detailed shots of the party favors and what she was cooking on the grill. I was enjoying it because it was very colorful, very dope.
As people started to arrive, and began to engage, that is when I started to start focusing in, on just the interactions that people were having with one another.
It made me have to stop and look at what was going on. Even if I could not hear the conversations, I could read, what was happening with the people who were interacting.
One part in the evening, there was a group of women who were conversing at a table and they were just having the time of their lives, right? They were just living it up, living their best life. And I was like, Oh, I gotta get a shot of this. I, at a distance, I lined it up and, I am clicking shots, but I am waiting for the perfect moment that really tells the story of what was happening in that moment.
One of them tells a joke and they all just bust out laughing, and at that point I capture, that definitive moment or period. I took the shot and I looked at the back of my camera and, and it was like perfect. It told the story, and I was like, there is something to photographing people.
It is a way to tell stories, without having to use all the words that would have to use, back when I was writing short stories or back when I was telling or doing spoken word.
I am like, there is really something to this. Prior to that, I had just been shooting, like some landscapes or pretty flowers that I would walk by, and even a bit of street photography. It was at that point where I realized that I really wanted to focus on, photographing people and doing portraits.
Start of My Professional Photography Career
Kelvin Bulluck: That began a journey that continues to this day. Which is continuing to improve my craft, continuing to take the work to the next level, in a way that tells the story that I want to tell through my lens; literally and figuratively.
Ever since then I started off at YouTube University and Google Community College, picked up some mentors along the way and just honed the craft and like shot continuously. There was not a time when I did not have my camera in my hand.
My work really started to improve to where people were, Oh, kell, you do great work. Can you shoot these, portraits of me and my family? Can you do this or do that and, Oh, we will pay you. I am like, wait, people are gonna, pay me to do this? This is crazy! I love doing this.
That started the ball rolling the career path, where I am like, you know what I am going to do, I am going to do photography. That is what I started to do.
I do not know about you all, but for me, and even some of my other photographer, friends, the self-taught photographers I know that a lot of us tended to, we start off as a hobby and then people, like the work or they will gas us up and think that, oh man, maybe I can do something with this.
Then you just start shooting everything under the sun. You tell people, I can do this. I can do that. This is what I shoot. Oh yeah, I could do weddings. Oh, I do landscape, portraiture, fashion, beauty! You do all this stuff and you put it all on the website and then people come, and they do not know exactly what it is, that you because you got everything under the sun under there. I was a victim to that as well, I just like threw everything against the wall to see what would stick.
Focusing on My Vision for Success | Does it Spark Joy?
Kelvin Bulluck: As time went on, I started to shave it down to really focusing in on the things that I wanted to do. Also looking at the things that did not like doing. I would do weddings and family portraits, and these things, do not spark joy in me.
I do not know if you guys are familiar with Marie Kondo and minimalism and how she, would say, if you are cleaning out your closet, you got to look at each item and ask yourself if it sparks joy? That technique applies to so many areas of life. If something does not spark joy, you get rid of it.
I was not finding joy in weddings. I was not finding joy in doing family portraits. To me, hard to work with kids, if we are being real. It was hard and not enjoyable. I could not always get the thing that I was envisioning in my mind because kids and animals are so unpredictable. I was like, yeah, I am good off that.
When I started cutting things from my offerings, that is when I started seeing my business grow.
Talking about some of the things that I was interested in, I was interested in fashion and beauty, and doing even more commercial work. Working with smaller businesses who had, needs to improve, their branding.
I found myself really gravitating towards that for one, because it was fun! It was cool to network with people who I would otherwise not have a reason to speak with. I would get an opportunity to really connect with some interesting people and get a chance to do some fun work and challenge myself in ways, that I was not doing before.
Also, I was able to make more money, working with these businesses and entrepreneurs, because they would have budgets for this kind of thing.
Highlighting the Beauty of My People
Kelvin Bulluck: Then, I would also do my own test shoots and private projects, just because, there were certain things that I wanted to create and there were certain things that I wanted to show in my work that was, in my own voice.
For instance, I told you all that I grew up in the South. Growing up in the south with a black family, my mom, dad, and sisters, we were not always as accepted. Sometimes, we stood out like sore, thumbs. I would be the only black guy in the class. Again, that comes with its own set of challenges, having different standards of beauty kind of pushed on me and forming what I thought was beautiful through the lens of the European culture.
That was an interesting period in my life because at the time I did not realize what was happening, but when I went off to college and got a little bit more, educated in how this all kind of works, I started to realize like, oh wow, there w there really was not a lot of representation of black beauty in my upbringing. That skewed my ideas of what beauty was.
When I started to really get good at photography, I decided that one thing that I did want my work to focus on, and I am not saying that I do not photograph other, nationalities or cultures or races, but I knew that when I would do my own project centered around black models, I wanted to do things that really highlighted black beauty in a way that I was not seeing when I was younger.
Now the great thing about today's society and with technology and Instagram, there are more outlets for different types of representation, so I wanted my work to contribute to this library of beautiful black imagery that I was coming across.
A recurring theme in a lot of my work really is black beauty and, black excellence. Again, that was something that I did not see when I was young.
What Makes Kelvin Click
Kelvin Bulluck: This is a perfect example of, what I look for when I am interviewing people for this show. I like to really dig deeply into what makes you click.
It is a play on words, like what makes you tick, but I am talking to photographers. It is what makes you click? One thing that makes me click is, is finding ways to highlight the beauty that is my people, my culture. Those are things that you will see highlighted in my own work. I am always looking for different ways to do that.
That is not the only thing that I do, you can look at my portfolio and see that there is a wide variety of the types of people that I shoot. That is just like one of my little personal missions that I go on.
Tips for Upcoming Photographers | Benefits of This Show
Kelvin Bulluck: The funny thing is, for some of you up and coming photographers, what you will notice is, when you start focusing in on those things that you really enjoy shooting, it really does show up in your work and that passion can translate into beautiful, thoughtful images that in turn can, attract certain people who see that work and want you to create that for them, for whatever purpose.
Whether that be a personal reason or whether they be a business, or a brand, that is one of the best ways you can go about attracting the type of clientele that you want. That has been something that has worked wonders for my business.
You will hear the different photographers that I will be speaking with on this show, they all have similar stories as well.
When you are listening to the show, pay attention to those recurring themes and, recurring, strategies and techniques that all these different photographers will be talking about because they really are giving us a master class in. What it is that they do. You can pick and choose the things that you feel resonate with you and apply them to your business.
Kelvin Bulluck: One thing that I will be doing with this show, is on each episode, if you go to the website, which is whatmakesyouclick.com and then click on the episode that you are listening to, you will see that the show has been transcribed. Have you ever wanted to read what was being said? That will be there.
I will also be listing the different resources that they mentioned in the show, because everybody that I speak with they will either mention some photographers that they looked up to when they were growing up, or painters, even some of the different resources that they use to operate their business. To find clients or whatever it is that they share. I am basically going to provide some links, so you can investigate that too.
I do not, I feel like after you listened to this show, you by default should become a better photographer. That is just how I feel about it, because I feel like the information that is being shared is so powerful, useful, and applicable, that you have no choice but to get better! That is the goal of this show.
Moving forward, I will continue to get some of the best and highest operating guests in this industry.
You will see that there is going to be a good variety of photographers that do celebrity work. There is going to be photographers that do fashion and commercial. All the different things that I found myself drawn to in this industry.
How to Stay Connected
Kelvin Bulluck: I feel like that is a good place for me to stop because I do not, want to bore you guys with everything that I do. I really want to, give you, some little insight into what makes me click.
Moving forward, every other episode is going to be me interviewing these other photographers. If you like this show, if you have some other photographer friends that could find value in hearing from some of these top performing photographers, share this show with them.
You can go to the website and subscribe, which is whatmakesyouclick.com. You can go to our Instagram page, which is what makes you click. You can go to Facebook and find us under what makes you click as well.
If you want to check out my own personal work, you can also go to my Instagram and that is @kelbpics.
Do whatever you can to remember this show, whether that means locking it in on your, your Apple iTunes, or wherever you find your, your podcast.That is where you will be able to find this show. Free to share it. Comment, rate it on the iTunes app. I really want the show to be out there for everybody to hear, so that they can really gain the knowledge that these photographers are sharing.
Thank you for listening again, and we will catch you on the next show.
[Outro Music Playing]