Photographer of the Month - Kelsey Timmerman

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

One of the best books I read last year was by our Photographer of the Month, Kelsey Timmerman. Entitled Where Am I Wearing? A global tour to the countries, factories, and people that make our clothes, we reviewed this book and I can't stop thinking about it. I was so impressed with Kelsey's travel stories and photos that I knew we had to showcase his photography, too. We were lucky enough to sit down and chat with Kelsey about his photography - here's what he had to say...

Kelsey Timmerman - travel photos



Kelsey Timmerman - travel photos

Bibi Russell  - Bangladesh  



WE:  How long have you been a photographer?

KT: Straight out of the gate, let's get something clear, I wish I possessed the
technical know-how and creative composition to the extent that I felt comfortable calling myself a photographer. I look at myself as more of a
traveling writer that goes interesting places and takes his expensive
digital camera with him, who, when he's not too shy, pulls it out and takes
some shots.

That said, I'm honored to be your photographer of the month.  I suppose the title of "Shy writer with camera of the month" doesn't have a very good
ring to it. So, to answer your question, my pictures have been getting published since 2002.

Kelsey Timmerman - travel photos 

 Aloft a Tall Ship, Lake Erie, Ohio


Kelsey Timmerman - travel photos 

Garment Worker - Dhaka, Banglades

WE: How did you get interested in photography?

KT: Travel led to writing and writing led to photography. Once I got started writing for various magazines, newspapers, and websites, editors started asking, "Got any photos to go along with the piece?"  I usually did, but they weren't always publishable. Eventually, I started to make more of an effort to not only bring back (what I hoped to be) great stories wherever I went, but also photographs that could do my subjects justice.

What happened along the way was that I really started enjoying taking photos. And not only that, but they made me a better writer.  My eye for
description became better.  Today, I often consult my photographs while I'm
writing.  For instance one of the first lines of a chapter in my book "Where Am I Wearing? A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories, and People That Make our Clothes" is. "At the Phnom Penh city dump it is difficult to distinguish the people from the trash."



I love traveling, I love writing, and by default I love photography.


Kelsey Timmerman - travel photos
Child worker at the dump, Cambodia



Kelsey Timmerman - travel photos

Pancake Rocks New Zealand


WE:  What is your favorite place to photograph?  Subject?

KT: Give me a busy, dusty market at sunrise in any developing country in the
world and I'll be happy.  Besides the lighting, there's typically a sort of optimistic energy among the merchants and shoppers. I guess that it's not so much places that I love to photograph as it is people in really interesting places.

Kelsey Timmerman - travel photos

 Reef shark The Bahamas



Kelsey Timmerman - travel photos 

Mocoron, Honduras


WE: How difficult is it to take film on travels?  Or does one really need to
be all digital?

KT: I used film on my first extended trip abroad.  I didn't take enough rolls
to last my whole trip, so finding quality film was a challenge on occasion. Also, I was a nervous wreck that I would lose the rolls.

Now I'm all digital.  I carry enough memory cards that I can leave my shots
on them.  I also download them onto my laptop and upload shots I couldn't
live without online.

Kelsey Timmerman - travel photos 

Textile Worker Bangladesh


Kelsey Timmerman - travel photos 

Street Bath - Cambodia

WE: Are there rules in other countries people need to be aware of about who
or what you can or cannot shoot?

KT: Well, there's always the Rambo approach to photographing people: shoot
first, ask questions later.  That's just bad practice in my book no matter where you are, but I've met people that adhere to it. 'm ultra shy when it comes to pulling out my camera. Once I do, I always ask permission for snapping shots. Most of the time people will grant it. Heck, if I'm taking photos of my wife, I ask her permission, and there are days when she doesn't grant it.

"Ask first, shoot later!" Whether preserving local customs or marriage,
it's a good mantra.

Kelsey Timmerman - travel photos

Tibetan procession Nepal 


Kelsey Timmerman - travel photos 

Market - Bangladesh 


WE: What other projects are you involved with?

KT: In my book "Where Am I Wearing?" I visited Honduras, Bangladesh, Cambodia, and China to meet the folks who made my clothes.  Going on a world tour to meet the person who made your underwear and then coming home to write a book about it, has pretty much consumed the last few years of my life.

I also write for publications like the Christian Science Monitor, Conde Nast
Portfolio, and record essays for the World Vision Report.  Of course, now
when an editor asks, "Got any photos?" I can answer, "I've got loads."

Kelsey Timmerman - travel photos

Isolated beach Stewart Island, New Zealand


Kelsey Timmerman - travel photos

Mostar - Bosnia-Herzegovinia



WE:  Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

KT: There sure is.

I just became a dad!  Harper Willow Timmerman was born January 6th.  She's my new favorite photo subject.  I figure I better get in my shots now
before she can complain about me always sticking a camera in her face.

Kelsey Timmerman - travel photos

The biggest adventure



WE: Thanks so much, Kelsey!



All photos courtesy and copyright of Kelsey Timmerman.



Kelsey Timmerman - travel photos

Musicians, Budapest, Hungary