Hello 2018! Let’s get this party started…

Well hello 2018!
First up:  here’s the audio version of this post, for your listening enjoyment:


Now then… let’s get this party started!

Yeah, I know we’re already an entire triad of weeks into the new year – but this time of year I often hole up for a bit to think things over. Everybody always says “You have to be consistent!” when it comes to blog posting, social posting and all that. But hey, I don’t always feel like doing the talking. Sometimes I just like to listen for awhile. That’s me. Call me an artist. Call me flaky. Just don’t call me late for dinner! hahahah. That was my mom’s fave joke. So dorky. Had to share.

Now I’m back and ready to chat wit’chall about all kinds of things. I may even have a rant or two up my sleeve, so buckle up!

But today’s post is pretty mellow. It’s about something I’m playing with over on Instagram. (I’m @karenhutton over there, in case we’re not connected all social-like.)

Having A Bit’o Fun With Series & Themes

Some of you know I’ve been doing 12-part series over there for the past few months. Why 12? Ohhh – because that’s the number that covers the screen pretty well on my iPhone – and I like themes. Scientific, huh? It’s also a number for spiritual perfection. So it works for me on both counts.

Last year I was doing visual themes, which is fun to do, if you haven’t ever tried that. Like: sunsets… the color blue… medieval towns in France… that sort of thing.

I did that for awhile, then thought it would be fun (my key word is always FUN!) to post in themes which might ALSO have some food for thought in your approach to your photography. They’re the things I do in my own work and also teach people in workshops and retreats and stuff, so why not share some of those notions in tasty little morsels? It still looks cool visually AND gives back in ways that might give folks something to think about.

Single Subjects

My first such theme along those lines was “Single subject”.

When it comes to my own photography, I always think in terms of stories and movies. So this “single subject” thing would be like your central character. Your main dame. The one around whom your story revolves. Everything else is there to qualify, support and further define her. As the screenwriter of this little movie – your choice of who all the supporting characters are, what they do and say, has to pretty much all point back to this one grand dame.

The single subject notion seems stupid simple and obvious at the outset, but gets more complex as the view and the story (i.e. your composition) becomes richer and deeper. Which is why you gotta anchor the whole idea in your head solidly, securely… and simply.

Translated into photography, your single subject grand dame is whatever you choose as your focus. Some people call it the “hero” of the shot, but I think that’s too limiting. Because in real life, everything is more nuanced than “who’s the hero?”. And photography is alot like life.

What Do You Love?

This is why I always go back to “What do you love?” Because in art, what you’re trying to capture is the firefly called Emotion. What do you feel – and what do you want your viewers to feel? Gotta be clear about what that central emotional response is and how you’d most love to frame it, otherwise, your images end up as wandering generalities (another of my mom’s fave phrases) and they just won’t land in anyone’s hearts and souls. All you’ll hear is “NEXT!”

Here’s another thing: with so much visual noise going on all the time in our lives, an image with a single focus lets your brain relax. You can breathe. Then slowly start to notice all the other supporting players in its elegant and poignant soliloquey.

Try this

So here’s an idea to play with: Next time you go out to shoot, find your main character. Your grand dame. The ONE element that is your entire reason for taking that photo. You’ll find it changes how you see, how you feel, how specific your compositions become. Did I mention that the importance of being SPECIFIC is? Ahhh… that’ll have to be a post all unto itself then.

In the meantime, here are a few more single subject, single frame movies for your consideration.

Clearly, a flower. Yep, she’s the subject.
But once chosen, you decide how to light her,
frame her face, where to focus the lens.
Lots of decisions for such a simple notion!

Humor and surprise usually go together.
And remember: what you put into a composition around your grand dame
further defines and illustrates her. Chicken AND a wine glass? Why not?
But she’s our main focus.

“So this chicken walks into a bar…” Snort!

Her name is Genvieve, by the way.
She lives at Skylark B&B in Grasse, France.

In landscape and nature photography, don’t forget the intimate views!
They are usually exquisite in completely different ways than the grand views…
and further define your story of the glory of Nature.

Each of these photos are Single Subject ideas.
And they could easily be from the same time and location,
IF you remember to tune you eyes and mind to the entire experience of being out there in all this fabulousness.

Mont St-Michel. An icon. A fairy tale.
People see her from afar and gasp.
Yet to the sheep and the townsfolk, she is just part of everyday life in their village.
She possesses her own brand of magic – and has for centuries.

So sayeth my character description from the  screenplay of this composition.

Then, as your compositions become more complex…
the single focus idea helps anchor the story.

Plot description: The story of wonder, impossible color, grandeur and light.
A tale of time spelled out by eons.
And of a single moment where nothing else mattered.

Without a single focus (the lighter colored, taller peak) for such an epic adventure…
who the heck is leading the charge?


So there you have it. Single subjects which start simply singular, but which – like the Matahara or Luke Skywalker  (depending upon your generation) – serve to anchor your story, no matter how many sequels you write.

Just a little food for thought.

I’d love to hear yours in the comments below!

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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:

Temi.com: 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!”

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.”

Black & White: The Humphrey Bogart of Photography

The unknown. The unspoken. The infinite spaces “in between”. The unanswered questions, which do have answers, if we can just find them. These are the notions that draw us, lure us, pull us into any great mystery.

The main character of our mystery today is light itself. It is fleeting and temporary.  Capturing it is like a siren song to photographers. It lures and captures us our hearts, then demands that we tell its story, beginning with its glorious illumination, its gradual fade –  its eventual disappearance into darkness. Or is it the other way around?

The Humphrey Bogart of Photography

I often think of black and white as the Humphrey Bogart of photography; it cloaks itself in mystery, dancing between light and shadow, making no apologies, offering no explanation, simply leaving you standing there by yourself to decide where one reality ends and another begins. It is the ultimate mystery, which keeps you asking questions and wanting to know more.

In the deep dark nightbeneath a bright streetlight,she wore a hood drawn tightto keep her hair just rightas she waited all night...for him.
Continue reading “Black & White: The Humphrey Bogart of Photography”

The Landscape of Life

Me Loves Options

Sometimes I don’t know if I love black and white or color better. Or… big, open space epic photographs or macro. Or… chocolate or really ripe raspberries.
Then I retrieve my senses and remember that I don’t have to choose! In this lifetime, on this planet – we get options and choices. I treasure that to my very core.

(SIDEBAR: I created this one in Macphun Software’s Tonality Pro. I love how fast it is – and how you can bring back color selectively like here, or split tone in the blink of an eye. Should I tell you that all of Macphun’s software is 40% off until Nov. 29? I think it’s fair… cause maybe you love a discount as much as I do and want the option to git one!)


Continue reading “The Landscape of Life”

The Harvest of Gold

Harvest… It’s Only PART of the Story!

Autumn is harvest time.
And personally, I like the idea of harvesting gold.
It doesn’t have to be literal gold… although… wait, give me a moment.

[She pauses. Muses.]

Yep, kinda love that idea too.
But there’s more to this ‘golden harvest’ notion that I like…


(Photo story: taken in Truckee last year – but I never posted it on my blog. The nicest man in town was generous enough to let me venture into his amazing yard. It was breathtaking! I gave the best ones to him to thank him for the unfettered, exclusive access. His family made a Christmas card out of one of them. It was all so cool.)

Continue reading “The Harvest of Gold”

Macro Autumn

As monochrome as yesterday’s post was, the day after that storm dawned ridiculously, shamelessly bright and clear. AND… with a couple inches of snow at the upper elevations! Couple that with some rad fall color – and you’ve got a breathtaking event. I found myself pulling out my 100 mm macro lens, the 24-70 AND the 14mm prime. Where are mini-me’s when you need ’em? Heh.

Here are just a couple of the in-your-face loveliness from the Day That Dawned Clear. I think they’re pretty self-explanatory… autumn in its many-colored  macro splendor from 8500 feet in the High Sierras!

Oh – and that last one? Taken by the hubs of one KHutt in her happy place. heh.)


Continue reading “Macro Autumn”

Nature: Best Architect, EVER!

I do believe nature trumps everyone when it comes to fine architecture! I love visiting ancient man-made architecture, and have Ooo’d and Ahhh’d in Egypt, Turkey and various parts of Europe so far in my life. But every time I witness the effortlessness with which Nature designs and executes her creations, I’m speechless. If you know me, you know that’s saying ALOT!


I’m known for shooting landscapes, but I really love getting up close and personal like this. It’s soothing, comforting even. Continue reading “Nature: Best Architect, EVER!”