The Evolution of Pei Ketron

Pei Ketron is a traveling photographer with a massive online following but her work is accomplishing something much larger.


Ketron expresses her love for photography by shooting beautiful images and using social media to show her followers new ways to see the world and find each other.Ketron’s love for photography began 13 years ago as she was starting a career as a special needs elementary school teacher. Developing skills in her spare time with both film and DSLR cameras, she eventually began taking on professional photography work including weddings and portraits. Then in 2010, Instagram launched and permanently altered the landscape of mobile photography. This was when Ketron really started to explore this new medium.


The ability to shoot and share photos easily changed everything. “One of the beautiful things that happened was that it put everyone on level ground,” Ketron recalls, “When everyone was using the same tool, it was very amazing to see what everyone else was creating. I’m still kind of a purist in that sense.” To this day all images on Ketron’s Instagram account are shot and edited solely on a mobile device, but Ketron hasn’t abandoned film or DSLR formats. She will often shoot and experiment with multiple formats resulting in a portfolio that captures people and places uniquely. However, keeping her Instagram account pure from other formats adds even more intrigue to the work and has helped her earn nearly a million followers.




When asked why her work has continued to be a standout among the millions of Instagram users, Ketron credits some of her success to the idea that it offers a new look at familiar places and an escape to new places. “Even when I was a teacher during the first years of Instagram, I was posting images that were more of an escape from the doldrums of our daily lives” Ketron mentions. She also makes it a point to write meaningful captions with most posts to provide insight. “It’s not to create a journal, but giving a little bit of information about myself and the photo is engaging.” Encouraging genuine communication inspires users to interact and lays the foundation for creating her mobile community.


The price of this community is the time spent curating her online accounts. Ketron is always shooting and like many, she lives on her phone. She keeps things organized by designing her own hierarchy. The final images she is most proud of are posted to her Instagram account. Her other shots that may be missing something, but still have value, will end up on her Twitter account. Her take on the obligatory food photo finds a home on Foursquare.


Mobile photography speaks to a wide audience and Ketron’s work attracts clients from everywhere including tourism boards. With a constantly changing travel schedule she can very easily find herself far away from home. So Ketron made it a point to take fun photos with new friends she makes and old friends she reconnects with. She takes a lot of selfies, and those will end up on her Facebook. The result of all her hard work is a mobile network of familiar faces. “I moved from San Francisco to New York in 2012, and there was never a time where I was like ‘I’m kind of lonely’ or ‘I wish I had friends to hang out and do things with,” Ketron remembers. “I had a whole group of people that wanted to meet up and like the same things that I do. They became my close friends. ”


This level of attention could cause some artists with online portfolios and clients to feel creatively restricted. It can even cause some users to have separate accounts for their work and personal lives. Instead, Ketron chooses to hold herself to a higher standard. She stays mindful of her posting, but does not post images that do not reflect her personality or shots that lack substance. “I feel like I have a responsibility to my followers to consistently provide good content,” Ketron says, “but I still want to make sure it is my account and that I’m still posting photos that make me happy.”




Currently, Ketron is traveling full time and using the flexibility to work and play. Her schedule allows her time to teach web classes on photography, work with new clients, and continue to connect with people. It’s refreshing to realize that in a time where a lot of us feel tied down by our phones, Ketron has found a way to use her mobile device to find community, do what she loves, and share it with everyone.


To see more of Pei’s work,follow her on Instagram @pketron and visit her website. To learn more about how to improve your mobile photos with tips from Ketron, click here.