My Favorite Images From 2015

DPKelly-2519sSo, another year has gone by. As part of the year end housekeeping of archiving old files and making room for new images, I like to review the work I’ve done in the recent past and remind myself of what I love about my job.

Shooting as a professional can be frustrating at times, especially when clients sometimes don’t “get it”. I once did a slide show of images to a class of professional photographers and received a standing ovation. Then I told them “All these images have one thing in common… the client did not purchase any of them.” So yeah, it can be frustrating.

Anyway… I thought it would be fun to share some of MY favorite images from last year. Some of these I may have shared on social media already, some may never have been seen before… but they all resonated with me for one reason or another. Maybe a special technique, maybe an emotional backstory, maybe just something that is out of the ordinary. Some are not even client jobs, but personal photos that have meaning for me.

In no particular order, here are just some of my personal favorites from last year. I’d love to hear your comments, so feel free to add them below.

I visited the 9-11 memorial in NYC this year. It was very emotional for me.

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A remembrance, I assume, of a loved one lost. Maybe it was his birthday, anniversary, or maybe someone came every day. There are thousands of stories here.

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They call this “The Survivor’s Staircase” many people made their way out of the towers on this very section of staircase, which was somehow spared destruction when the towers fell, now preserved as a monument to the will to survive.

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This is the remnants of Ladder 3. Her entire crew perished that day.

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This is a section of the last steel column that was removed from ground zero. The firefighters and other first responders posted tributes to fallen comrades as it was unearthed.


My friend Annie was diagnosed, treated, and recovered from breast cancer last year. I helped document her journey. Thankfully it had a happy ending.

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Getting fitted for a wig with Dawn Gorman from Friends Are By Your Side.

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I love this shot. Despite the smile, if you look close you can see tears in her eyes.

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Post treatment, Annie decided to share the story of her fight to give hope to other women facing the same fight. She asked me to shoot some images and I was glad she did.

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Here is Annie all recovered. She helped us photograph a Night of Wigs and Wishes this year, the same foundation that provided her wig when she started chemo.


This was one of my favorite families from this year. These guys are crazy fun, and you can feel the love they have for one another. It had been a while since their last portrait, and their dog was ill and not doing well. So we went to the beach and photographed the family with their puppy.  As of the time we delivered the portrait a couple months after it was taken, the dog was still doing well… let’s hope he still is, but I’m not sure.

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I LOVE creating portraits that tell a story about my subjects, like this one I did of a little girl and her horse. I can picture people 100 years from now looking at this image and getting a sense of pride this young girl feels in learning to ride, and the love she has for her horse. It’s all about legacies, right?

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My friend Martino is known as a “celebrity stylist”. I think of him more as a larger than life persona. I was really flattered when he asked me to do  portraits of him in conjunction with the launch of his new product line, and I wanted images that were as intense as he is.

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That jacket had to weigh 30 pounds! Must be a workout just walking around in it.

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Don’t know how appropriate the use of flames is in a photo used to sell hairspray, but I liked it. We’ll call it artistic license.


Speaking of Martino, his charity, Friends are By Your Side, does an amazing fundraising gala each year to raise money to provide free wigs to women battling cancer and to grant wishes to sick children. Here is an iconic image from the event. A tribute to Kiki, who receive the first “wish” from the foundation when Martino took her to meet Justin Beiber. She passed away a few days later.

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Also got to photograph Paula Abdul, who is as kind and gracious as she is beautiful.

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I had a really fun project to do last year for the Washington Township High School Football team. They wanted to do something different for their game schedule this year, so I proposed photographing the senior members of the team to use on the poster, but with a “Dennis Kelly” twist. So we talked to the kids, decided on a theme, and photographed the seniors in groups of 4 at a time on green screen and came up with this.

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They were so thrilled with it the booster club ended up ordering several huge outdoor banners to hang at the athletic fields, which was kind of cool.

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For the last few years I had been itching to do a shoot in the snow, but was never able to make it work. Last year the stars aligned and I was able to shoot some incredible images of model Ashley. Here is one of my favorites.

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I first photographed Brianna as a member of our senior model team several years ago. I remember asking quite innocently about some scars I noticed on her neck and if she wanted them removed. She told me I better not dare remove them as she was proud of the fight they represented. Brianna has quite an amazing story, you can read about it HERE.  When she was older, I asked her if she would let me photograph her scars, and she graciously complied. They were some of the most powerful images I have ever done. Recently she told me she had gotten a tattoo which read “These scars remind me of how strong I am… ” So that prompted a reshoot…

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Brianna is in college now and doing very well. I often ask her Mom to please make her stop growing up.


I had the opportunity to shoot at Eastern State Penitentiary this past year. It is only open to photographers to work with models a few times a year… what an amazing location. I went with my friend Tina, and while it is really hard to pick just one favorite shot… there must be 20… I think this one is representative and one of the stronger images.

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Speaking of Tina, she is an amazing and versatile model, and generally up for any crazy idea I might throw at her. I had the opportunity to shoot some outdoor fashion style images. I was particularly pleased with how they turned out. Even more notable is that these were shot the week before Christmas, and it was still shirt sleeve weather down at the waterfront, even at sunset.

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I worked a lot this year on perfecting and refining a lighting technique called “light painting”. It involves, well, “painting” a still life subject with light using different exposures and combining the different elements into one image which basically could not be done in one exposure. It is particularly suited for architecture…. and hot cars!

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I actually devoted an entire blog post to this shoot with the ’72 Vette that shows how I did it. You can find it here.


And, speaking of light painting, I used the same techniques to create these stunning images of the remodel of Martino Cartier’s beautiful Washington Township Salon.

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Martino called me on a Sunday morning and he needed the pictures by the next day. He is about the only person in the world I wouldn’t hang up on… LOL. The images were use in a feature story in South Jersey Magazine.

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Sometimes the simplest portraits have the most impact. I love this mother and daughter portrait I did for Mother’s Day.

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I work at the beach a lot over the summer months, so sometimes I get a little jaded by the natural beauty that we tend to take for granted. Once in a while though, conditions are just magical and we get really breathtaking images, like these.

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Washington Township’s Fire Chief of 17 years, E. John Hoffman, was retiring, and I got a call to do his official portrait which will hang at Fire Department headquarters. I thought it has a quiet dignity and sense of power. There aren’t a lot of photographers who are good at photographing men these days. That’s a shame.

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One of my favorite lighting techniques for beauty portraits is something called a ring light, which has an almost shadowless look and makes eyes look amazing. Here are two of my favorite from last year using this lighting technique. I’ll admit to being a bit of a lighting weenie. Shoot me.

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One of the things I especially enjoy is capturing the power and energy of athletes. Luckily I get the opportunity to do it often in our senior portraits, where we see all kinds of athletes.  I don’t really get photographers that photograph athletes in the studio, lovingly cradling a football next to their face while smiling at the camera.  I like my way better!
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And I’ll end this up with a picture of my granddaughter, just because she’s so damn cute.

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