The Everyday Genius of Your Artistic Voice: Episode 8: Storytelling

Welcome to the final episode of “The Everyday Genius of Your Artistic Voice”: Storytelling

Wow! Today’s the final episode of our 8-Part series about artistic voice in Photography. We’ve been all about turning what might seem like an ephemeral concept – into practical application. My fondest hope is that it’s the beginning of a great conversation – one that’ll last a lifetime!

For once, I’m not going to preamble… I’m just going to say… tell the GOOD story. The best one you can. And remember that your images and words exist in resonance – and can affect everything around them for the better. If you so choose.


Series Recap

Hey, it’s Karen Hutton. And welcome back to The Everyday Genius of Your Artistic Voice. And today is Part 8, the final episode: Storytelling.

For this series, we’ve covered alot of territory. We talked about what we mean (for the sake of THIS conversation, anyway by artistic voice, some thoughts on the inner game – and how to prepare yourself to step out to photograph, being as present and focused as possible. We explored the importance of asking yourself “Why?” and maintaining a “kindergarten mind”. Then we had a chat about how choosing the right cameras and lenses for YOUR vision can help you more easily create emotion in your art. And art is, after all – a means of conveying emotion and feeling. It’s a language!

Lauri Novak and I shared our personal thoughts and tips about how your artistic voice can be an incredible guide for moving into the professional photographer space with your soul intact, should that be something you’re interested in exploring. Then… post-processing. I shared 3 photos and their accompanying thought process and the tools I used to create them. Hopefully that got your imagination going!

Now… we’re going to wrap up this 8-part series with the topic of Storytelling.
Photography is, after all – a means of storytelling. Sharing yourself, your life, your point of view, your dreams. It’s the story of you.

As with each of the areas we’ve explored, I’m considering the notion of Storytelling from a particular perspective, since everyone has their own take on this one.

3 Kinds Of Stories

So. story. Certainly, there’s a visual component. I mean, we ARE talking about a visual arts in this series. But you see, in the broader sense, storytelling also means Words. See I passionately believe that words have power. They can heal, they can wound – and they ALWAYS evoke. We should all choose them – and your story – as powerfully and wisely as you can. Here’s why:

Story, Image and Words all tie right into your signature. And if you recall, by Signature, I mean your stance, your point of view, your own “spark of divine fire”. Story, image and words are three of the most powerful tools used in storytelling.

Now. The way I see it, there are 3 kinds of stories:

  1. Stories that give
  2. Stories that take
  3. Stories that report just the facts, ma’am.

What the heck do I mean by that? Well…

Boats on a Peachy Morning

Stores that give

The stories our ancestors passed down about how to live, how to farm, how to care for one another, how to know truth from lies – are all stories that give, because they’re trying to make life better or easier somehow. Stories of inspiration, told to give the listener new ideas about what’s possible are another kind of giving story. They build the listener/viewer up. Over the ages, great stories that last are the ones that impart some wisdom, some truth, some kind of inspired idea. Something that is meant to elevate others. Stories of how I overcame something – and so can you.

Great stories impart some wisdom, some truth, some kind of inspired idea. And those are the ones that tend to last over time. Stories that give are meant to elevate others. They’re stories of how I overcame something and so can you. These are stories that give because they are told to empower others; to give something to raise them up.

These are stories that give, because they are told to empower others.

Stories that take

Well, examples of these often start on the inside. For instance, stories you tell yourself about how stupid you are, how uninspired you are, what a crappy photographer you are, or how fat, how ugly, how dumb that thing was that you said – and how you can never get it right. You can never have a great relationship. You never make enough money you certainly can’t take a day off; those kinds of stories. You know them, because they tear you down in some way and you feel worse after hearing them.

Examples of these would start with the stories you tell yourself about how stupid you are. How fat, how ugly, how dumb that thing was you said. How you can never get it right, have a great relationship, take a day off, make enough money. They tear you down in some way… you feel worse after hearing them.

These can also be stories that are told out in the world either by you or other people to dramatize bad or difficult things for the purpose – whether this is conscious or unconscious – of gaining supporters or validation for a “less-than” point of view. You know that saying misery loves company? Yeah. That’s based on stories that take. And I’m not judging here. But what stories that take really speak volumes about is how dimly the speaker, the storyteller, views themselves and life and the possibilities contained therein.

When someone tells you stories like this, it can feel like they’re ensnaring you, sliming you. You might suddenly feel tired, a little depressed… and just not as good as you did before hearing said story.

These kinds of stories disempower you, because they’re all based upon a perspective of powerlessness – and they make you feel lousy.

One of my best teachers and mentors in the personal development field had a very simple and powerful thing to say about these kinds of stories. She said: “If you it makes you feel bad, it’s a lie.” Pure and simple. It’s taken me YEARS of personal discovery and personal work… but I’ve finally learned she was right.

Stories that give are based on a certain universal understanding that we are all sourced from love, light and beauty.
Stories that take are based upon a warped sense that life will fail us every time.

Stories that report the facts 

These are more like reports, devoid of emotion. And there is a place in the world for them! Like… the DMV accident report, the home inspection, an obituary. They all tell a story… but with only facts. And like I say, there is definitely a place for these kinds of stories… but art probably isn’t one of them.

Stories that give and stories that take contain emotion. Emotion moves. Emotion conveys. People connect through a resonance of feeling. Personally, I like aiming to feel good… but the point is, there aren’t many neutural stories that stand the test of time, unless it’s in someone’s file folder.

“Signature” involves Feeling

When someone asks me “What is your signature”… the first thing that crosses my mind is that Signature and feeling go together, because Signature contains a point of view, is like a ray of who you are, is your own spark of divine fire.
So signature is emotional. And it contains a point of view.

To illustrate this, to make it a little bit easier to think about – in the transcription for this episode, I’ve added a video that I made back in 2012 for a project I called “LIL Galleries”. LIL stood for Life is Light, which is one of my personal signatures. If I were to say what my tagline is overall that would be it. This video tells my story. The one that informs my every day, regardless of the challenges. It’s represents my basic believe, my basic signature that overlays everything.

Because you see, I believe that Light Prevails.

The Impact of YOUR Story

So you see, when I talk to you about storytelling, I’m asking you to consider what kinds of stories you’re telling yourself, the people and the world around you. These stories – and their images and words carry forth your signature. They have impact. They have power. They affect everyone who sees and hears them, whether you OR them realize it or not. You are that powerful.

Your artistic voice is way more than your photographic style. It’s your signature, your mark, your resonance. It contains your feeling, your thoughts, your perspective on yourself and life, it contains your “Why?”.

You can’t help any of this. It’s simply how we are hardwired.
What I’m asking you to consider, though, is to become more conscious of this powerful construct of yours – and to find ways to use it intentionally. Hopefully, to create more light and beauty in the world, because god knows we need that.

But to be a voice of something greater. Your own spark of divine fire and exponential creative energy it contains.
Becoming conscious… focused… knowing – and acting upon – what you love… carefully speaking from the highest truth you can. To empower yourself – and others.

That is the gift we need right now.
The one that only YOU can offer.
And that right there, is your most artistic voice.

Summing up

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series! I hope it has sparked your imagination and inspired you to go out and try things you never have before – and to speak clearly in your own voice.

I don’t want much. Just that. 😀

Anyway, thank you for being a part of all this. As always, I love your comments! Let me know your thoughts, your ideas, your real life stories, questions, any topics you want to explore.  I read them all! I try to comment on them all as well.

Until next time, get out there and photograph with your heart, your soul and your entire artistic voice!

See ya! Bye!


Just catching up? Here are ALL of the episodes in this series:

Episode 1: Introduction
Episode 2: Preparation
Episode 3: Appearance
Episode 4: Cameras & Gear
Episode 5: Art & Business
Episode 6: Art & Business
Episode 7: Post-Processing
Episode 8: Storytelling

Extra: Q&A


Got ideas, comments, requests? Lemme hear them in the comments below!

As always… thanks for listening (and watching!)


The Everyday Genius of Your Artistic Voice: Part 7, Post-Processing

Let’s Talk Post-Processing: If You Dare!

Welcome back to The Everyday Genius of Your Artistic Voice! This is Part 7 of an 8-part series, exploring practical ideas (and the thinking behind those ideas) for anchoring your very own soul’s genius and artistic voice more deeply into your photography and life. Ambitious much? heh. Today we broach the touchy topic of post-processing.
Continue reading “The Everyday Genius of Your Artistic Voice: Part 7, Post-Processing”

The Everyday Genius of Your Artistic Voice: Part 6, Art&Business

Everyday Genius Part 6: Art&Business

In Part 6 of The Everyday Genius of Your Artistic Voice… Lauri Novak and I wrap up the  conversation we started in Episode 5: “Art&Business “. In this one, she offers 7 tips SHE has used to successfully cross the line from hobbyist photographer to photo pro.
Continue reading “The Everyday Genius of Your Artistic Voice: Part 6, Art&Business”

The Everyday Genius of Your Artistic Voice: Part 5, Art&Business

I decided that this series called for a big fat “Art&Business” section. Why? Because soooo many questions come up around this in general – even so more when folks try to reconcile “artistic voice” and how NOT to sell out when attempting to shift from hobbyist to entrepreneurial business maven.  Continue reading “The Everyday Genius of Your Artistic Voice: Part 5, Art&Business”

The Everyday Genius of Your Artist’s Voice: Part 4, Cameras & Gear

Today’s episode of “The Everyday Genius of Your Artistic Voice” gets into the shark infested waters of cameras and gear. But with a light touch! It’s really ALL about getting priorities straight: voice and vision first, the gear to best do the job second. Always.

Continue reading “The Everyday Genius of Your Artist’s Voice: Part 4, Cameras & Gear”

The Everyday Genius of Your Artistic Voice: Q&A

The Everyday Genius of Your Artistic Voice: Q&A

Every week in our fun 8-part series, I throw out the invitation to ask questions, make comments and share thoughts. THANK YOU one and all for doing so! As part of the awesome shares, a question was raised I thought warranted its own post. Thanks to Elizabeth for posing it!  Continue reading “The Everyday Genius of Your Artistic Voice: Q&A”

My New York (inner) Journey

I just got back from New York. What a trip. It was as much about the inner journey as it was the outer one.

Let me start by saying 2016 was a packed year. Full of surprises, breakthroughs, a few frustrations, lots of growth and new experiences. And now… lots to think about, feel into and make decisions about.

And I’ll admit it, I took a blog break. Just a little one. Even I need to step awayyyyy and take a breath now and again. Y’know, get a new perspective. So I did.

The Value of A Personal Trip (for art’s sake)

New York was a personal trip. I made it with my friend Valerie Jardin. We thought it would be fun to just take a trip and not have an agenda (which turned out to be challenging for both of us!)… and just see what came our way.

Now, I love NYC, but personally I find it challenging. It’s alot; alot of energy, alot of distractions, alot of input on so many levels. Artistically and photographically, I find it harder to find my balance, focus and voice there than almost anywhere in the world. And that’s always bugged me.

So this time, I decided to “embrace the horror” (as a friend of mine refers to his approach to almost any challenging situation).. and let myself be uncomfortable. Dwell in possibility, not expectation. Allow things to happen in a new way. Ask to be shown the way. NOT KNOW. It all sounds so noble on paper… but it’s incredibly uncomfortable when you’re in the middle of a process like that. Days when you delete everything on your camera. Times when you feel like you suck at this and should just take up knitting. Moments of doubt and agitation on a level that have you questioning everything including your sanity.

Not that I speak from personal experience or anything.

Embracing The Horror Leads to New Perspective

So. New York.
Like I say, it was challenging for me. But I chose to embrace the horror, take no shortcuts – and was rewarded with a renewed (refreshed and deepened) perspective… which honestly, I can’t entirely put into words yet. It’s still unpacking into my being. I do see it in my photographs though. From subject matter to post-processing, I wiped the slate clean and did my best to follow the quieter voice on the inside. The one that never fails me. Tried new lenses, new approaches.

As an artist it’s how we expand and deepen our art.
As a human, it’s how we create a life we truly love.

It’s also how we survive in times that push us to our limits. We have to walk past the outer clamor and chaos, past the inner mind chatter and continue on till we find our stillpoint. Easier said that done. And even when you think you know how to do that… you have to then be willing to take it further than you ever dreamed possible.

So… this was my journey. Make of it what you will.

Comments, questions – as always, welcomed.



Love what you see? Well, join my tribe of light-seekers!
When you do, you’ll get a free eStoryBook, textures, free quote images – plus 50% of any print from my Sunsets Aglow gallery!

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The Artist’s Voice: An Accounting of Miracles

I have an announcement to make and a story to tell, complete with an accounting of personal miracles. (I loves me some good miracles, no matter how big or small.)

First the announcement: “The Artist’s Voice” photography retreat I’ve had scheduled for this October at La Pitchoune is now happening in a new format and a brand NEW location. We’ve moved down to the beautiful town of Cannes, right on the Mediterranean. There are 3 spaces left!

Click the image to learn more… then come back for the rest of the story. Or just read on…

blog badge cannes retreat Continue reading “The Artist’s Voice: An Accounting of Miracles”

My New eBook!

My new eBook

Happy March 1!
My big news this week: a brand new eBook!  It’s called “10 Steps To Finding Your Voice.” You can get it here.

Here’s a screen shot of the cover and a couple of pages:

Screen Shot 2016-02-27 at 1.51.27 AM Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 12.00.27 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 1.28.29 PM

Finding Your Voice

I’m super excited about it! There really is no feeling quite delivering 1. a gorgeous custom print to a client… or 2. seeing your book in its finished form. Seriously. Delicious.

The book is based upon the 10-day series I did here on the blog recently. You may have seen it. But we added some extras and put it in a format you can easily gaze upon anytime, anywhere on any device… plus we added some extras goodies! And it’s just so purty in this form. 😀

This is the beginning of… what? I ask myself that. I ask because it feels like the tip of the iceberg. For me, finding your voice (which is SUCH an over-used term… I want a snappier way of saying it) is deep. It’s the beginning. It’s your North Star. It’s the place you always return to. It’s the light that guides you.

Taken that way.. it applies EVERYWHERE! The genius thing about it. If you can figure out where real voice lives inside of you… you’ll always be able to find you way, come up with your best expression, find your TRUTH in everything you do, say, create. It’s kind of a superpower that way. And it can free your soul.

It’s time for some souls to be set free, wouldn’t you say?

The Price:

$5.25. Wanna know why?

In numbers, 5 equates to Grace… 25 is Grace intensified.
If there was ever a topic that calls upon both of those… it’s finding your true voice, which is a glorious experience. After all these years of experiencing – and watching  – what happens when someones’ true voice shines through, I can honestly say it gives me goosebumps everytime. And it just feels like Grace. So that’s what I wanted the number to be. Affordable. Graceful.

Thank you

To Tanya Wallis for putting this puppy together! She of mighty art and design chops pulled it all together in record time. We used, for those who are curious. It made the whole experience a piece of cake.

IMHO, finding your voice is ALSO about discovering the tools and technologies that help you get your creations out there in the most graceful way… and with ease. Now that we’ve discovered how simple it is to do eBooks in Canva… watch out! The roadblocks are gone… more are on their way!

GET THE EBOOK HERE.. or click “store” in the navigation at the top of this page!

And for the FULL experience… 

On May 5-8, I’ll be holding The Artist’s Voice” Photo Retreat at Julia Child’s former home in Provence, France. What better place to sink into “Life as Art” than in the place that treasures life and art above all?

The eBook is the start of this conversation… the retreat is the full monty!  FIND OUT MORE BY CLICKING HERE. 

Mak and Me

Makenna Johnston and I were on a special episode of MGAPXL with Ollie Dale of the The Arcanum last week. It was just us… talking about finding your photographic voice, what happens when you buy Julia Child’s house in Provence and answered a TON of great questions that everyone in the chat had for us… it was a so much fun!

Big thanks to Ollie for having us on board! Here ’tis… hope you enjoy!

Finding Your Voice: Day 10. Story.

We made it! This is Part 10 of: “Finding Your Voice… 10 Days, 10 Concepts To Help You Find Your Photographic Voice.”  Our final day! Wow, what a journey it’s been… and I feel like it’s only just begun. There’s SO much more to talk about! As a final wrap up to this round, I leave you with some thoughts on voice… story… and you.


At the end of the day… or 10, 20, 30 or 70 years from now… your images will tell your story. What do you want them to say? Do you want to look at each one with fond remembrance and say “Ahhhh, I loved that day”, warmed by the care you took to include your favorite things into each one in your clearest voice? Or be sad and think” Dammit! Why didn’t I take a moment before I pressed the shutter?” (worse yet: “What was I THINKING??”).

As humans, we’re hardwired for stories. Thousands of years of  cave paintings prove that, if nothing else does. Each of us is living our own story, guided by our preferences, our loves, our aversions, our faith, so many things. Every moment is its own story, woven into the giant story-tapestry of time that contain all the moments that came before – and all that come after.

Santa Cruz, CA
Schooner of Aha Continue reading “Finding Your Voice: Day 10. Story.”

Finding Your Voice: Day 9. The View.

Can you believe we’re almost done? Today is Day 9 in: “Finding Your Voice… 10 Days, 10 Concepts To Help You Find Your Photographic Voice.”  And now…

The View: Wide or Macro?

Today’s exploration asks how you love to see the world. The wide view? Close up, contained and focused? Or somewhere in between?

If you’re like me, you love it all! I wanted to admit that right off the bat, in case you thought I was gonna say “Choose amongst them!”  No… if you love all view, go for it!

Where you DO have to choose is in your composition. You have to, in a sense, justify what goes in the frame of whatever view you’ve chosen. For this series, that means make strong choices about that based upon what you love. The story you want to tell. The message, point of view or perspective you want to share… which has to all come back to what you love most.

The Life Cycle of a Wheel Continue reading “Finding Your Voice: Day 9. The View.”

Finding Your Voice: Day 8. Shapes & Patterns.

Oh boy! It’s Day 8 in: “Finding Your Voice… 10 Days, 10 Concepts To Help You Find Your Photographic Voice.” 

Today, we’re going to wrap ourselves around…

Shapes and Patterns

A world without shapes or patterns is pretty much a blob. Ditto bones. 😉

Shapes and patterns are definitely important elements to watch for – and potentially build compositions around. But when it comes to your artist’s voice, you have to take it deeper. What shapes and patterns do you just go nuts over? Any and all? Organic ones? Geometric ones? Shapes and patterns in nature? Architecture? All of the above?

After you work that out – then the even bigger question to ask is why? How do those particular patterns make you feel? What kind of story/statement does that shape make? These answers are important to know, because they’ll tell you how to compose your shot, whether to wait for warm light, pink light or low light. Is the statement stronger in black and white? To know the answer,  you have to know what the statement IS in the first place. And that is all about you and your point of view…  your voice.

My favorite shape or pattern is ________.

Continue reading “Finding Your Voice: Day 8. Shapes & Patterns.”

Finding Your Voice: Day 7. Movement

Welcome to Day 7 in our series: “Finding Your Voice… 10 Days, 10 Concepts To Help You Find Your Photographic Voice.”


Today we get into an area that might seem a little more abstract to you, but I’ll give it my best shot at explaining how I see this one.

Here’s the fill-in:  My favorite type of movement is_____________.

My own background shapes the way I see in perhaps a different way than a typical photographer: I was a dancer, a figure skater and a rider/horse trainer. Each moved in different ways, but each shaped my feeling for timing, rhythm, composition and story in photography. Continue reading “Finding Your Voice: Day 7. Movement”

Finding Your Voice: Day 6. Color.

Welcome to Day 6 in: “Finding Your Voice… 10 Days, 10 Concepts To Help You Find Your Photographic Voice.” 

Today, it’s all about…


Oh I do loves me some color! This is yet another deep topic with many facets to it. And once again, we’re approaching it from YOUR preferences. What you, your heart, spirit and soul all love in the way of color.

So the blank to fill in:

My favorite color palette is__________ Continue reading “Finding Your Voice: Day 6. Color.”

Finding Your Voice: Day 5. Element.

Welcome to Day 5 of our fun series: “Finding Your Voice… 10 Days, 10 Concepts To Help You Find Your Photographic Voice”

My Favorite Element is _______.

Let’s talk elements. I don’t ONLY mean the natural elements of wind, earth, fire and water. I mean MANY other elements that might be part of what you’re drawn to – that all contribute to finding your Artist’s Voice.

Moods Like This Continue reading “Finding Your Voice: Day 5. Element.”

Finding Your Voice: Day 3. Light.

Welcome to Day 3 of our fun 10-day series: “Finding Your Voice: 10 Days, 10 Concepts To Help You Find Your Photographic Voice.

My friends, it may seem elementary, but fill in the blank on this:

My favorite light is_____.

In an interview recently, violinist Lindsey Stirling put it this way: “When I’m onstage, I feel like I’m exploding with light. I think when you’re doing what you love you actually glow.” Continue reading “Finding Your Voice: Day 3. Light.”

Finding Your Voice: Day 1. Feeling.

Awhile back, I wrote my most personal blog post ever. It was about a huge “AHA!” I had about experiencing my life’s work unfold before my eyes. And it continues! So many cool things in the works right now. I can’t wait to share them! They all relate to what we’re embarking upon right now.

Today, I’m beginning a 10-day series of blog posts about “Finding Your Voice”, something near and dear to my heart and soul. Whether we refer to a photographic voice, your artist’s voice, your actual/physical voice, your writer’s voice… being able to make yourself seen and heard in the way your soul wants to is life-changing. It’s life-affirming. It sets a wave in motion that creates its own gravitational force; drawing to you the things, people and experiences that make your spirit soar and make you so DAMN glad you came to this Earth.  I can’t always explain how it works… only that it does. It’s been a theme throughout my life. It wove itself into the very fabric of everything I’ve ever done… in particular,  teaching for 40 years.

I’ve been asked when I’m going to start teaching again. Well… how about now?

Slipstill Continue reading “Finding Your Voice: Day 1. Feeling.”