31 Days of Photographers that Inspire: Day 30: Shelley Calton

Day 30: Shelley Calton


Today is one of the most important days in my inspirational list of photographers who have inspired me with courage, determination, ambition and passion.  Another lifetime ago, I was Tawdry Hepburn and spent every waking second playing for Houston Roller Derby.

My photography was relatively on hold and derby was the only thing inspiring me at the time.  One night at practice, it was announced that we were going to have a photographer following us at practices, games and events.


Shelley Calton had decided to work on a long term project to document the sport of roller derby and its rebirth in the world of female sports.  Shelley was different than any other photographer that came by to take our pictures.  She became one of us, not on skates,(though I do remember her skating with us one night and always thought she should just join us!) but with her camera.  She shot us with medium and large format film cameras and became so engrained in our lives that images she captured were genuine and powerful.  They were the side of us only we saw, preparing for our battles, the friendships, our alter egos transforming from our real selves to our super hero selves.


Watching Shelley photograph us and meld her life with ours was the first time I had seen a photographer work towards a goal in that way.  She was creating a book that became a very important part of roller derby history and she captured a time in my life that only the richness of film could do justice for.


05.kerrizmakevorkian 12.thecolonel 01.deathbychocolate 06.therink04.flamenrage


Shelley’s work is a voice for strong, emotional and passionate women.  She is currently working on a three year project called, “Licensed to Carry: Women with caliber.”

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Shelley is the inspiration that showed me that photography as a career can be more than taking portraits for clients, that it can be about following your passion and believing in a project so much that you live it.  She has work in the Museum of Fine Arts Houston as well as representation by DeSantos Gallery.  She is also the vice president for The Houston Center for Photography.  She is living a life that I admire deeply and am thankful to have her as a mentor and inspiration to look up to for creating my own dreams.

Visit Shelley’s website to view her other projects such as “Dreams of Gepetto”, “Invisible Thread”, “Within My Garden” and “Necessaire.” Her photographs are poetry.  In a world where digital photography has made it possible to create the unimaginable, Shelley has held onto the richness, the truth, the magic and power of the story that can be told with film. I am in awe.

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You can read more about her life with Roller Derby in Texas Monthly.

Visit her website at:

The Photographers That Inspire Will Go ON: How you can contribute: 

As much fun as this 31 Days of Photographer that Inspire project has been and as much incredible feedback as I’ve gotten from you all, there’s no way this can just be the end.  We have two days left, but I’m working on the way I want to keep it going as an ongoing inspirational resource.  I don’t think it will be every single day, but the details of when and how often will be posted soon!  I’ve gotten so many messages from people telling me who inspires them as well and I would love to hear more!  If you know of a photographer that you would like to see featured, please email  While it is great to nominate yourself, the true beauty of this project has evolved from giving love to other photographers, so if you want to be featured yourself, have a friend that YOU inspire, send us the message!

31 days kikibutton

Follow Bonnie & Gabe, Two Creative Birds on Facebook.  Check out our fine art conceptual work at and our portrait work at



One comment

  1. Pingback: 31 Days of Photographers that Inspire | fromthebirdcage

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