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 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 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”

Your Gear Can Help You Create With Emotion… and Temi!

Today, blog cast #2! Use your gear to create with emotion – and Temi!
Today’s topics and where you can find ’em in the timeline: 00:48
Create With Gear/Emotion: 4:09
Q&A call to activate: 12:26
Plus: I seriously need to come up with a name for these ‘casts!

Continue reading “Your Gear Can Help You Create With Emotion… and Temi!”

Create Different: When (Written) Words Just Aren’t Enough

“Create Different”. I decided to do just that and record my blog post. See, my morning began today with the startling realization that it’s time to shift gears with how, what and why I create. “Whoa!” I thought. “What game is afoot now?”  Welcome to my newest experiment!

Continue reading “Create Different: When (Written) Words Just Aren’t Enough”

Fujifilm’s GFX 50 S: YES! Worth The 35 Year Wait

The Fujifilm GFX 50S medium format camera? No biggie; I’ve only waited 35 years for it. 😉

As it turns out, this gorgeous beast was worth waiting for. 😁

Here is a video Justin Majeczky and I made for Fujifilm about the GFX… my story (including about how this video was so down-to-wire it almost didn’t get made!) and review are right below it.


NOTE: OK gang, this is a long post. It’s part review, part story, all GFX. You might want tea. Or wine.

At any rate, buckle up cowboy, here we go.

Continue reading “Fujifilm’s GFX 50 S: YES! Worth The 35 Year Wait”

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.



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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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Scouting Locations in France is FUN!

I’ll admit it: scouting locations for my “Finding Your Artistic Voice” retreat in France is FUN!!

The South of France is truly a glorious place to explore photographic artistry, find your voice (in art AND in life), deepen your connection to your health and most of all: your most expressive, artistic YOU. Everything here supports that and I couldn’t wait to come back for the Fall installment of this workshop. New people, new stories, new images, new places!

(Click here to see the recap of the FIRST “Find Your Artist’s Voice” retreat/workshop!)

Overlooking Cannes

One really nice spot is up on a hill by a big cathedral. It overlooks Cannes Harbor in one of those “Look ma, a POSTCARD!” moments. I thought it was a fine place to kick off this chapter of “Postcards From France”. Of course, the sun was so bright I could hardly keep my eyes open as I made this first vid of the series for this trip.

NOTE: all of these videos are low res, since the internet here isn’t robust enough to upload anything wooftier. But you’ll get the idea…


I just love Grasse. It’s SO much fun to photograph! I had heard there was scaffolding set up in town though, so wanted to make sure our cinematic view wasn’t spoiled like rotten cheese. Plus, I wanted to test out the bus system from Cannes (read that as meaning: make sure I knew where it picked up, dropped off and didn’t smell bad.).

So Tanya Wallis and I leapt on the #600 bus that picked us up right in front of our hotel and headed up the hill.

We made a video too. Grin.

Verdict on Grasse: no scaffolds, bus smelled great and the place still ROCKS!

The Boat to Île Sainte Marguerite

Last May when I was here, I didn’t have time to take the 15 minute ferry ride to Île Sainte Marguerite. It’s a marvelous excursion and easy peasy to do. I’ve heard several people talk about it – so this time, I wondered if it would be a good place to take the group and decided to find out.

The island is home to Fort Royal, which was known to be inhabited in Roman times. It’s also where the real life “Man in the Iron Mask” was held for 30+ years in the 17th century. His cell is alot cleaner now than it was then… but you can go inside and imagine spending over 3 decades in a stone cell with a mask on your face. Suffice it to say I was happy to be outside again!

Here’s the thing:  I’m not a huge fan of boats. But to see the island, you gotta float on the boat. Ain’t no way around it. I decided making a new “Postcards” video was a great idea. Turns out, it definitely was – but ARGH! the audio on the video from my iPhone went all wonky, rendering it impossible to use.  I was going to toss the whole thing and had a very sad face.

Suddenly Tanya starts laughing in this funny out-of-context way (with a scary wicked gleam in her eye) and says “I know just the story I can tell with the bits that aren’t too bad!” She was guffawing so hard, I just had to let her create her (clearly) deranged vision, cause I couldn’t POSSIBLY have said anything TOOO “out there”! 😜

This is the result:

Verdict on Île Sainte Marguerite: We’re ON! This is an awesome place to visit! We literally had only an hour… and in that short time, unequivocally knew this would be one of the adventures the group HAD to have!

The Retreat Begins…

The moment arrived: scouting done, locations dialed in – it’s GO time!

More photos and videos to come! Time now to get back to living the experience… 😀


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…

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