Kelley Deal Photography | Newborn Photos : Daisy

I don't have any babies (yet..), but I have nieces and a nephew that restored my faith in babies a few years ago, and since then, it seems like little ones get better and better.  Daisy was no exception - still very much a newborn, she was strong and alert and calm, she handled outfit changes like a champ, and she gazed right into her parents eyes almost every time the camera was out.  This child is destined for a life in front of the camera :) 

Kelley Deal Photography | Glenna & Michael

Glenna and Michael celebrated her 30th birthday in Paris where he proposed, so I knew we'd have reason for some romantic engagement photos!   We met a few weeks ago at the Bridge Club, which is actually a wedding venue in Raleigh, NC, and after some rearranging had a loft to work with!  

Between their cool look (and tattoos!), their super lovey relationship, and the amazing windows / light of this space, this is definitely one of my favorite sessions I've done - so excited to hear more about their wedding plans!

Kelley Deal Photography | My First Wildflower

Most people that know me know that I have a two sisters, one of which is my fraternal twin.  She's had three little babies, all of whom I've driven through the night to meet as quickly as possible.  Two years ago next week my first niece was born - Molly.  I kind of had this feeling that Meagen would have all boys, and was really surprised when we found out she was expecting a little girl.  Molly was about as sweet as any newborn baby girl, and a lot easier on her mom than my nephew was.  

At 10 weeks, my sister went back to work.  She took Molly to her daycare - the same at-home daycare that my nephew had been going to - and halfway through the day, Molly went down for a nap and never woke-up.  

What was originally called SIDS was later reassessed - Molly was put in a pack'n'play, on her side (against the side of the crib) with a fluffy blanket.  She rolled from her side to her belly and, with the blanket beneath her, couldn't breathe.  At 10 weeks old, she was gone, and I watched my sister and her husband go through the hardest thing I've ever witnessed.  Even writing this I fight off tears and am covered in goosebumps - it was one of those things that should have never happened.

My mom gave the eulogy at Molly's funeral, with a tiny casket front and center, and among other things read this as part of her speech : 

"They say that time in heaven is compared to 'the blink of an eye' 
for us on this earth. Sometimes it helps me to think of my child
running ahead of me through a beautiful field of wildflowers and
butterflies; so happy and completely caught up in what she is
doing that when she looks behind her, I'll already be there." 
~Author Unknown

That week my sister - a first grade teacher who barely drinks, married her first real boyfriend and was basically born to be a mom - decided to get a tattoo.  We all three got a different wildflower on our wrists in memory of Molly, and I still take photos of wildflowers everywhere I go for her.

I'll probably add more flowers to my wrist later this year - hopefully with the amazing Kerry Burke - but love that I've got this constant reminder of her AND of her family's strength with me forever.

Many many people would break during something like this.  My sister has decided that Molly's legacy will live forward in safe sleep awareness.  She started the Molly Ann Gries Foundation to promote safe sleep and to spread knowledge about the only way your baby should sleep - Alone, on their Back, in a Crib (ABC).  Not on your chest... not covered in blankets... not in a bounce-seat... If you're expecting - even if it's not your first - I highly encourage you to skim through these tips.  There are a lot of rumors out there about what's best for babies, but when someone loses a child to an accident like this, you can rest-assured she's done her research about what really works.

Kelley Deal Photography | Janice & Chris | At Home

Janice and I have a lot in common - she's a videographer here in Durham that seems to have a soft-spot in her heart for local companies and creators, she's got a couple crazy dogs, and her house is just as old as mine - 30 years older, in fact!

I spent some time with Janice and Chris and snapped some photos while we commiserated about renovations and talked about gear.  Once again, a really awesome morning with another member of this awesome community.

Kelley Deal Photography | Allen Family | At Home

A couple weeks ago Matt and I spent Sunday morning hanging out with the Allen family.  They let us in on their dance skills, welcomed us to pancakes, and did their thing while I followed them around with a giant camera... it's one of the most authentic 'at home' shoots I've ever been lucky enough to do.

Kelley Deal Photography | Chelsea's Boho Maternity Shoot

I met Chelsea through the beauties of social media and the creative community, and we almost immediately landed on the idea of doing a boho-themed maternity shoot in this sweet tipi in Virginia I found on Airbnb.  It's one of the first couples maternity shoots I've done, and, without getting too sappy, it changed me.  I've done plenty of engagement photos and covered enough weddings to really appreciate the love that comes-through between a couple, but this is different.  These two have a son and are expecting their first daughter, and the love between them is deep.  They're so connected - like you can tell they lean on each other for the adventures life throws at them and find support in that.  It's maybe my new favorite kind of love.

ps: Chelsea writes some awesome blogs - check her out

Kelley Deal Photography | The Dudleys

My husband and I own a home that was built in the 1930s - it's not often we meet other people with the same tolerance / appreciation for old, quirky homes full of complications and character.  When I drove up to Leah and James' house in Chapel Hill, I was so, so excited - it looked a little bit haunted, a little bit southern, and totally creative.  

Kelley Deal Photography | Merritt!

One of the many reasons I love our little local community of photographers : when I asked if anyone would be play model while I tested out a new lens, Merritt was one of a handful of awesome people that beautifully jumped-in to help.  Three cheers for photo friends! 

Kelley Deal Photography | My Love Affair with Albums.

If you've booked a wedding with me, you know that one of my packages includes a linen album.  I offer albums like this for weddings, primarily, but they're also an option for families - think of this like the ultimate keepsake / yearbook for the family photos you've already invested in, or for engagements - this could be an awesome guest book to look through for your guests.  I keep your images for at least a year (typically longer), so you've got plenty of time to decide you want one of these, but I'm guessing a lot of people have no idea what these look like and why they're AMAZING, so here are some reasons to consider it : 


First of all, we live in a digital age - you probably aren't going to make an album with 4x6 prints of your wedding photos, and they'll probably live (for the most part) on the USB I send you, with the exception of a couple prints you might hang up in your home.  Why??  You've put all of this energy and effort into planning the details of the day and now you'll never see them again?  

Second of all, they're beautiful.  Almost as beautiful as your wedding was.  The albums I use are linen-bound (and come in 10 or so different lovely colors) and foil-embossed with your names on the cover.  I loooooove them.  They're made with thick cardstock-type paper (think of a "board book" for little ones) and made to lay-flat, so you don't run into that thing where you can't see the edges of the images that are closest to the middle.  

Third, when you order one of my albums, they're completely custom.  I've got a background in graphic design and use professional software to lay-out each page so that it highlights the best parts of your day, from start to finish.  I send you a draft to view online with the digital gallery of ALL of your images and you have the opportunity to switch images out or tweak the layout as much as you'd like before we go to print.  This is what a draft looks like :

Each album includes around 90-100 images, depending on the layout and what you want to include, and I usually take a stab at it and then the final sign-off is up to you!  Once we order them, they usually take a couple of weeks to come in- if you're using these for a gift for your spouse or parents, we can definitely rush - just let me know what you need and we'll see what options we have.

Lastly, because they're made to last.  A year from now when you're celebrating your first year of marriage, pull it out - I promise you'll miss your wedding and all of the planning you put into it (maybe that last part is just me..).  Look through it in five years, and you'll be amazed at how much has changed.  Sit down with it in ten years and be grateful that you've got photos of these amazing people that were such an important part of your lives.  In twenty years, let your kids look through it and - let's face it - probably laugh at the trends that you couldn't get enough of.  These are keepsakes - they're a tangible way to hold onto your memories of the best day of your life.

Kelley Deal Photography | Snow Day

I suppose I should introduce myself a little more frequently than I do, in case anyone new might have stopped-by!  

I'm Kelley, a wedding and family photographer based in Durham, NC.  I'll travel anywhere in the world for a photo shoot or new experience, but love coming home to my husband, Matt, and dog, Georgia.  

I hope this site proves how transparent I try to be about my style and my approach, so if you've got something in-mind that I might be able to help with, shoot me a message - I'd love to chat :)  In the meantime, some photos of my little family this morning on our rare snow day! 

Kelley Deal Photography | 2016 Recap

I debated for a while about whether or not to even write this post - I have loved working with each and every person I photographed this year, whether they paid me or not, whether I knew them ahead of time or not, children and adults, weddings and families.  Instead of posting a recap of each of those shoots, I decided to post my favorite images of 2016.

This year I attended two (very different) workshops, both of which were set in stunning locations and featured photographers with some amazing experience and lessons to share.  I started to find my own rhythm, focus with each image on what's important in a photograph, and fill my time following some intensely creative influences in this industry.

These aren't the most magazine-worthy photos, they probably aren't the most technically impressive, but they are the most meaningful to me, having been behind the camera for each of these moments.  In everything I do, I want to highlight real emotions, so if I've done that with these images, then I've had a successful year.  Cheers to an even better 2017 : 

Kelley Deal Photography | Lithgow Wedding

As the year winds down, I'm finally working my way through everything from this fall, including Blair and Kristen's wedding at this beautiful barn.  It was sunny and windy and a perfect fall day, perfectly complimented by the bride, groom and their closest friends.  It was a hell of a party.

Kelley Deal Photography | Hurst Family

When people ask about my lifestyle work, this is the kind of session I want to show them.  These parents, realistic and embracing life with 3 boys under 5, let me chase their kids around for a couple of hours last weekend, just trying to capture their personalities and life as it really is.

They asked for one image for a Christmas card, and anything else was just a bonus.  Their kids basically started the session running across a big field and maintained that energy level until the end.  They played with their dad in the leaves, explored through old barns, and told me about the goats they have at home.  It was a refreshing shoot among this crazy season and I'm grateful for it.

ps: have I mentioned how much I love photos of little kids laughing? 

Kelley Deal Photography | Carl & Cherihan's Fall Raleigh Wedding

I can't think of many things I love more, after a long hot summer, than a crisp day for a fall wedding with perfect fall details and an awesome couple with awesome guests.  When Cherihan and Carl's wedding was over, I felt genuinely sad that we didn't have another excuse to hang out in the near future.  Shooting their wedding was so easy - it was like I was taking fun photos of some friends and getting to hang out with them at the same time. 

The setting was stunning (Haywood Hall might be on of my favorite Raleigh venues ever...), the bride and groom looked incredible, and after the ceremony was over, I got to walk down to the Capital Building with their entire wedding party, with fall scarves and gorgeous flowers, while everyone in downtown Raleigh cheered and honked for them.

One thing I figured out during their engagement photos is that Cherihan loves. to. dance.  She spent 80% of the night on the dance floor, and was almost constantly surrounded by friends and family - an awesome party in a beautiful location.  

Again, I'm so so grateful to have met these two and been a part of their big day - here are some of my favorite shots!

Kelley Deal Photography | Sharon & Nick

Sharon and Nick wanted some photos to celebrate 5 years of marriage - a pretty impressive accomplishment in my world (as we approach 1.5 years of marriage in this house..).  They might have been two of the quietest people I've ever photographed - even if I couldn't hear the jokes, they sure made each other laugh :)

Kelley Deal Photography | Erin Comes to Play!

My little sister lives in Boston and works as an urban planner / developer / some job title I'm not cool enough to know, and this week work brought her to Durham!

Between meetings and showing her (quickly) around the 'hood, we stopped over at an open field near my house for some photos.  Hopefully work brings her back again - we'll see!

Kelley Deal Photography | Tillotson Family

This is the second year that I've photographed the Tillotson family - last year I don't think the twins were even crawling (maybe?) but certainly weren't walking.  It's crazy to watch, from an outside perspective, how much their little personalities have developed in a year, and so much fun to catch those wild moments on camera.