Name: Mark Kelly 
Age: 69
Residence: Auke Bay — Juneau, Alaska

Occupation: Professional Photographer

Years lived in Alaska: 48

Current Location: Backyard in Auke Bay — Juneau, Alaska  

Date of Photo: July 31, 2022
Temperature: 60 F/Outdoors
Current Weather: Partly cloudy and clearing. 

What brought you to live in Alaska:

I first came to Alaska because I was working in Omaha, Nebraska. It was 100 degrees, 100% humidity, and I wanted to get the heck out of there. And so I was lookin’ for a place. I went to the library and checked out Alaska, and I applied to the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. And this was in 1974. It was really cheap, and it was easy to get into. I drove up there. I had a pickup truck, a couple thousand dollars, and got out of Nebraska and went to Alaska and never left.

What first brought you to Alaska:

Alaska has captured my heart because when I first got in here I said, “This is home. This is where I wanna be.” It’s everything perfect. The lower 48 didn’t make, it didn’t work for me. It was, there was … There’s snow, I love to ski. There’s cold, I love the cold. There’s great people, all who wanna be out in the wild, out in the wilderness doing what they do. My wife lived in a teepee for a year outside Denali. I’m going, “This is crazy amazing.” And that’s what people do here. 

And then the the beauty of this place … Could you imagine photographing Nebraska? My gosh, you don’t have any mountains, you don’t have any animals, you don’t have whales, you don’t have brown bears, you don’t have black bears, you don’t have eagles. We’ve got eagles nesting above our house. They could be diving out there. We watch whales from our deck. What more do you want?

Describe just one of your favorite “Best Days” or  “Most memorable experiences”  in Alaska. 

I think photography and, and taking pictures is saying “yes” to life. You know every time you take a picture it’s because you’re, you’re celebrating life. And then I want to take that the next step more and live in the state of “awe”. Alaska gives me more opportunities to live in the state of awe. Like Northern Lights, I’m crazy about Northern Lights, and I’ve been chasing ’em around forever. And to stand under Northern Lights, and it’s on the Richter scale really high, it just, takes your breath away. You just stand there and you just go, “I can’t believe this is real.” And, and so, Alaska gives you that opportunity all the time. If you’re looking at the mountains, you’re looking to Northern Lights, especially true. And so, to live in awe is what I like, what I enjoy.

What in Life do you know for sure?

What I know for sure in life is: Do what you love to do. Forget everything else. I’ve always loved nature, I’ve always loved beauty of nature. And photography’s the way I can express it. And against all odds, I decided I was gonna be a photographer. I had a professor at University of Alaska Fairbanks, Jimmy Bedford, who brought me in after my first class there in Fairbanks, and he said, “You know, you have a lot of potential as a photographer. You stay with me, you’ll have a job. And you’ll make money.” And I thought, “Who makes money having this much fun?” You know?

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