Kelly Brown and Way
On home, motherhood, and life in the desert
Photos by Kelly Brown


We discovered photographer Kelly Brown on instagram and were immediately captivated by her muted imagery of life in the desert and her effortless style. She and her family have spent their time over the years between Vancouver BC and Joshua Tree, CA and recently relocated to the desert full time. We asked her for a glimpse into her beautiful desert retreat and to share her thoughts on home, motherhood, and life with newly one year old Way.

My name is Kelly and I currently live just outside of Joshua Tree. I am originally from the midwest and headed to California as soon as I graduated college. I was really done with winter and craving sunshine. I lived in LA for a few years before meeting my husband on Christmas Day in Slab City. We fell fast and hard and I moved to Canada (where he is from) shortly after we met. Ten years later, we have just recently moved back to California full time... I missed the sun. During all this moving around I have had the great honor of photographing people during very momentous moments of their lives, from weddings to pregnancies, to new business adventures and creative outlets for many different artists. I have also recently become a mother which has given my life a new type of compass for which I am forever grateful.






You and your family spend your time between British Columbia and Southern California. What do you find inspiring about each place and what do they bring to your work and lifestyle?

The vast, dry and muted tones of the desert couldn't be any more different than the wooded, vibrant, wet coast of Vancouver Island but each place has taught me and inspired me. The desert is quiet and calm, it is easily overlooked yet so intricate and unique. The colors and openness feel like a deep exhale and there is something completely magical about the light there which is why I love photographing the desert. BC is bursting with life, it is abundant and busy and full of cycles and seasons. It creates a beautiful rhythm to life and nothing beats swimming your way through a BC summer. We just recently made the move full time to California but I think we will be back up to BC again one day.







Where do you feel most at home? Did that change with motherhood?

I feel most at home in spaces that I have thoughtfully created. The first space that really felt like home in my adulthood was a 32ft long vintage Spartan Trailer that my husband and I renovated to live in when we would come down to California in the winters. Even though it was small, it was so functional and felt so rewarding living in a space that we created from start to finish. We are currently renovating the rest of our home in the desert and I know all the hard work in creating such a custom space will be so worth it.








You have a dreamy desert retreat built by you and your husband using all natural materials in Joshua Tree. Tell us about Earth House and your part in Cré?

Cré is my husband's natural building company which utilizes traditional and all natural building techniques and materials to create structures and finishes. This includes cob, strawbale, adobe, timber framing and more. He is definitely the creative genius and work horse behind the company but I help him with design, plastering, documenting his work, and building his website. Earth House is a portion of our home that we renovated a few years ago as a rental. It was the first project that Bryce and I did together that was just for us so it feels really special and reflective of how we want to create. The walls are all finished in earthen plaster from local clays and sand that we sifted from our yard. Bryce built all the furniture including the bed, built in kitchenette and desert masonry side tables. We found most of the objects in the room either second hand from antique/thrift shops or from small makers and all the textiles are natural fibers. My favorite part of the space is the bathroom sink which we made from an old wooden dough trough that we found in an antique store.


What was your journey into photography? What led you to photograph weddings?
I went to school for photojournalism and swore I would never become a wedding photographer. At the time I really wanted to do documentary work. I moved to LA right after graduation and began assisting photographers on different jobs including weddings. I began to notice how weddings were these totally unique microcosms of culture and provided an opportunity to document both journalistically and editorially. I have been doing it for over ten years now and I can honestly say I am not bored of it.
Do you have a favorite subject matter outside of weddings?
I usually have a camera on me and love documenting our day to day life, finding beauty in the mundane is a meditation that keeps me grounded and grateful.







What do you love about motherhood? What has been hard?

I love that motherhood has made me lean into my intuition harder, reminding me that we are nature and that there are processes that our bodies go through that our minds will never fully understand. Trusting my body to grow and birth a human and now nurturing that little being has been so powerful. Seeing both myself and his dad when I look into his face feels like looking at a miracle. I’m convinced there is no greater feeling than when he gives me a hug and I love watching his personality bloom.
There have of course been challenges. One of the hardest things for me has been balancing my career while being there for him in the capacity that I want to. I always feel like I’m sacrificing one for the other and that I’m not doing either as well as I would like. I’m constantly being tested to let go of certain expectations that I put on myself as I learn how to embody and embrace the different roles I have taken on in my life. It’s challenging but very worth it.  





Tell us about your son's name.

His name is Way. It's partially a nod to my grandfathers name, Wayland and also to a very special place we stayed in Mexico right after we got engaged called Huehuecoytl (pronounced way-way-coh-YOH-tl) meaning old coyote. It feels nostalgic and traditional but also unique and very meaningful to us. Picking a name for someone is a great responsibility, I hope he feels that it suits him well.



How have you navigated parenting this past year in the midst of a pandemic?
I feel very fortunate that both my husband and I were at home this past year and able to be fully embraced in our new lives as parents. Most weddings were canceled or postponed because of Covid and while that was financially stressful, it allowed me to have a really nice break and ease into motherhood without many distractions. In Canada, fathers have the opportunity to take paternity leave which my husband did, so were at home in our own little bubble and really embraced that. I know the pandemic brought so many challenges to peoples lives and that we are very lucky to be in the position that we are in.




How would you describe your style and what do you think about as you add pieces to your closet? Did motherhood change anything?

My style is minimal but warm and I always gravitate towards natural fibers, neutrals, and classic designs with a relaxed feel to them. I love pieces that can get you through multiple seasons and different occasions.
Becoming a mother has made me prioritize pieces that are comfortable and easy to wear, but make me feel put together since I don't have a lot of time to spend on myself.

Do you have any intentions or goals as we begin a new year?
A friend of mine once said, you have to protect your sacred no's and that is really ringing true these days. As someone who is very much a "yes" person I am trying to put up more boundaries and say no to the things that don't serve me. Also, to drink more water.
What makes you feel grounded?
Walks outside in big open places or swims in the sunshine.


Shop Kelly and Way's First Rite