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Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Kevin and Julie Kirkwood, Kirkwood Kreations
April 21, 2021
By Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University
Picture this. Imagine a series of gorgeous images depicting beautiful views of natural landscapes. Today we’ll meet a rural Kansas couple who specialize in producing photographs of beautiful landscapes in Kansas and beyond.
Kevin Kirkwood is the founder of Kirkwood Kreations Photography. Kevin grew up in eastern Kansas and studied farm and ranch management at Colby Community College. In 1996, his daughter was playing club volleyball. As a proud dad, Kevin took photos of her playing. The pictures were so excellent that other parents wanted them.
When it was time for his daughter’s senior pictures, Kevin took those too. They turned out so well that when she showed them to friends at school, her friends wanted Kevin to take their senior pictures as well. This became a side business for Kevin, as he did commercial and sports photography while working in agriculture.
“Rural agriculture has been part of my life for the last 30 years,” Kevin said. He is now plant manager for McGraw Fertilizer in Tonganoxie. His wife Julie grew up in Lawrence, raised her family in Manhattan, and now works at an insurance agency in Lawrence. They live outside Tonganoxie, a rural community of 5,583 people. Now, that’s rural.
Kevin has been a contract photographer for the American Royal and Denver Stock Show. Currently, Kirkwood Kreations is the official photographer for EquiFest of Kansas, Kansas Agri Business Expo, the Ranchland Trust of Kansas Pre-Symphony of the Flint Hills event, and the Meriden Antique Engine and Threshers Association. This involves the type of photography that Kevin enjoys most.
“As a farmer, I see every sunrise and every sunset,” Kevin said. He enjoys capturing the natural beauty of rural Kansas. “I love what I do as a farmer, and this is a way of sharing it.”
On weekends, Julie and Kevin like to go on what Julie calls “Boonie Cruizin’ adventures.” That’s her nickname for what we used to call “out in the boondocks.” These adventures include random explorations of the countryside, stopping to take pictures of scenic views along the way.
“A normal 1 1/2 hour drive might become a five-hour trip,” Kevin said. Those trips have resulted in gorgeous and popular pictures.
After a friend purchased Juli’s Coffee and Bistro in downtown Topeka, they asked the Kirkwoods for photos to decorate the walls. The exhibit opened in March 2018. Now a hundred of their photos can be viewed and purchased there as well as at Hazel Hill Chocolate in Topeka. “That has been the best exposure for people to see our photos locally,” Kevin said.
The University of Kansas Medical Center Rural Health Education and Services unit annually sponsors a photo contest for pictures of rural Kansas. Kirkwood Kreations has been a winner in five different categories. Kevin’s photos have been sold and shipped as far away as Massachusetts and California.
What is the key to successful photography? “I believe beauty is in the eye of the beholder, when it comes to art,” Kevin said. He is fond of farm, rural, and natural landscapes. While most of the photography is Kansas-based, he and Julie have also taken pictures of Colorado mountains and other natural scenery.
“I belong to several Facebook forums,” Kevin said. “I’ll post some pictures on Facebook and gauge people’s comments, and that can help me decide which to print.” They also donate photos to groups that are important to them, such as the American Cancer Society in Kansas.
“As long as it pleases the person looking at it, then it’s perfect,” Kevin said. “We want to put art in people’s homes.”
For more information, search for Kirkwood Kreations Photography on Facebook.
Picture this: A set of beautiful landscape photographs, taken by a Kansas farmer and earning multiple awards. We commend Kevin and Julie Kirkwood for making a difference with their high-quality photography. It helps rural Kansas look picturesque.
And there’s more. One of Kevin’s photographs would provide inspiration to a New York filmmaker. We’ll learn about that next week.
Audio and text files of Kansas Profiles are available at http://www.kansasprofile.com. For more information about the Huck Boyd Institute, interested persons can visit http://www.huckboydinstitute.org.