Today we’d like to introduce you to Shelby Moeller.
Hi Shelby, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
As a young girl, I was blessed with a big sense of adventure. My mom was a film photographer and my dad traveled the world with the Air Force, so I like to think I got it from them. They raised my brother and I in a small, Midwestern town where life was simple and things remained the same. Lucky for us kids, our family traveled to Canada every summer and we had more relatives across the United States. When I was seven, with a little help from my Mama, I took off on my first solo flight to my aunt and uncle’s house in North Carolina. It felt so natural to be up there in the sky, and it wasn’t long until I became a regular unaccompanied minor on U.S. Airways.
Going into middle school, I continued to travel and I got my first digital camera. It was a tiny Sony that fit in the palm of my hand and went everywhere with me. Taking photos was such a thrill and I wanted to share that feeling with everyone. By high school, I was concepting photoshoots with my friends and soon learned how to develop my own film.
My love for travel was in full swing as I set off for Spain with the Spanish Club, which ended up being the teacher and five or six of my friends. It was my first time going out of North America and yet, it felt instinctive! I had been flying and traveling my whole life at this point. Independence and adventure awaited me. Camera by my side, I ended up taking a photo on this trip that was published in The Ohio State University’s local photography review.
After graduating, I chose to attend OSU’s local branch campus where I met a special mentor and influential professor, Ed Valentine. Ed taught us the language of art and how to show up for ourselves as artists. Under his wing, I refined my drawing, learned to paint, mix colors, and create strong compositions. The campus was just a starting point, and Ed suggested BGSU as a great public university for the arts. After a tour, I transferred into the Visual Communication Technology program, and off I went. All of my interests aligned as I dived deeper into arts, technology, culture, and language.
It wasn’t long until adventure struck again as I set off for France to study abroad. I didn’t know a soul, but I’d meet my group at the airport and head out for two months in the Pyrenees. It is a truly priceless and treasured time in my life. I made some the most beautiful, epic friendships and have colorful memories for days. It was here that my love for the mountains crystallized.
A short year and a half later, I graduated! My training prepared me to be a photographer, videographer, graphic designer, print-maker, marketer, and entrepreneur. But, when I graduated, I didn’t have a job lined up so I moved back home. Looking back, I received a handful of great experiences while I was there. I worked as a stage-hand and lighting operator for the local theatre and performance hall, I was a floor director and videographer at the city’s news station, and I even worked on a movie with Stephen Baldwin. I was invited to Chicago and Nashville to work on NBC’s The Voice, and I continued to have my own little photoshoots on the side.
Being back in my small hometown, I felt a burning desire to adventure on; I knew I had to move if I wanted to follow my heart. I had visited Denver once and fell in love with the city, the culture, and not to mention the breathtaking views. I was always talking about moving there, but it seemed slightly unattainable. Then, one glorious moment, my perspective shifted and I made it happen. I realized that I did have a way. My cousin in Colorado Springs said I could move in and my friend from college was out there cheering me on. She set me up with her friend’s cleaning business and I took the giant leap of faith. Like a magnet to my heart, I packed what would fit in my Jeep and drove west.
Three years later, I’m still kickin’! And maybe even living my dream. I stuck it out and worked all kinds of jobs, eventually moving closer to Denver. This city has blessed me with so many creative opportunities and friendships; I’m lucky to call Colorado my home. I officially have my own photography business and I work for a magazine out of Denver. I’m a certified yoga instructor and get to play in the mountains year-round. Life is good.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
In the midst of my growth, my dad died suddenly. We were best buds, and it was hard to carry on. My huge family always comforted and supported me, but at 16, I became detached and attempted to fill my void through late nights and endless partying. My already rebellious nature was maximized, which brought a handful of run-ins with the law. Somehow, I managed to graduate with distinction as I prepared to go to college. This trend continued when I got to BG, where it was the best and worst of times, honestly. Of all the amazing opportunities at college, my main goal was a fun social life and I seemed to do just enough to get by. These habits were incredibly difficult to break, but I’m beyond grateful for what I’ve learned and the patience I’ve earned along the way.
Another challenge was my strong family ties. When I set off for France and especially when I moved out to Colorado, they didn’t want me to go. I questioned myself for a long time if I was making the right decision or not because my family is everything to me. In the end, I had to do what my heart was calling me to do, and it worked out. We’re all still really close and cherish our time together.
The most recent struggle I’ve worked through is the simple fact that I am an artist. My whole career, I lost touch with the idea and I stayed working jobs that I only kind of liked, in an attempt to gain stability and normalcy. Everyone else seemed to be okay working 9-5, why wasn’t I? Why did I always feel like my soul was crushed when I worked behind a desk? It took me moving to the mountains to realize: I was never meant to fit in a box, I will create my career and it will be a combination of my talents. Freedom and travel are so crucial to my existence, and now, I honor that. Being your own boss is never easy, but I’m learning business, discipline, refined communication, courage, confidence, and what my own voice sounds like. I wouldn’t trade this journey for anything.
Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
My name is Shelby Kai Moeller, the visionary and artist behind FUNKJUiCE Photography. FUNKJUiCE is a way of life that embodies this idea: our experiences grant us a unique value that nobody else can attain. This timeless concept has been an anchor and reminder for me on my creative path, as well as something I bring to every photoshoot. Since I specialize in lifestyle and travel portraiture, FUNKJUiCE helps me to look at others in their own light, and help that light to shine. I’m most proud of my ability to connect with others and invent pure images that leaves everybody feeling inspired. My work is a combination of my artistic talents, so it’s my style that sets me apart. Lighting, depth, color, contrast, emotion, technique, and intuition are all incorporated. We’re also not just posing in front of walls, we’re getting real and we’re having fun.
How do you think about luck?
I was born lucky! From my huge, loving family to my outstanding health and education, the valuable scholarships I’ve received, and the job opportunities that have aligned along the way, luck has been on my side, no doubt. With that, I can’t say luck alone has made me successful. There were times when I took it for granted and fell flat. Luck has helped to lift me up, smile, laugh, and stay spirited on my journey, while perseverance has gotten me to where I am today.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.funkjuicephoto.com
- Instagram: @itsfunkjuice
Shelby Kai Moeller