A day with photographer Omar Z Robles, dancer Alexandra Jacob and Dance itself is like manna from heaven. Continue reading “Omar, Alexandra & The Creative Dance”
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 DO You Take a Photograph?
Anytime I visit New York City, I always make sure I get into Central Park for some nice airing out. This trip was no different.
What WAS different is that I recorded a couple of quick video segments, sharing some thoughts I had about “when to photograph”… and about keeping eyes ears and heart open for special moments that happen along your travels, wherever they may take you.
Here at the start of our “Postcards From an Artist” adventure in New York, I couldn’t help but muse on new beginnings.
I mean, I’ve never done anything quite like this before. I’m excited, kind of nervous, imagining all the cool stuff that might happen, places I’ll see… the food, sights, sounds and smells I’ll experience and hopefully… the lives that will be touched along way. Including my own. I’ve assigned myself with ALOT to do on this journey… will I be able to keep up it all? Will everyone enjoy this experience and have a good time? Will an ihater barf on our parade at a vulnerable moment? WHO KNOWS! Continue reading “New York And New Beginnings”
Today it begins! I’m in New York right now; later this week, Rome. After that, Germany, Switzerland and France. In all, close to 2 months, 4 countries and a world of experiences I can’t wait to embrace!
Here’s the thing. I didn’t want this to be one of those “Oh – Karen’s off doing her thing. How nice.” things. I wanted to be more inclusive than that. This experience is the result of a series of choices, decisions and life-changing events in my life that began years ago. I wanted this trip to account for all of them. But even more; count towards maybe giving ALL of us the juice we need to create a life more amazing than we ever dreamed possible. Maybe I’m a dreamer (Duh!)… but I know I’m not the only one. 😉
I just made this video this morning, introducing the whole idea. It’s super casual… I did it done on my iPhone, before heading out for the day.
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.
IMAGES TELL THE STORY OF 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
Continue reading “Finding Your Voice: Day 10. Story.”
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.”
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.
On Being “Right”
You’ll probably think this is odd. But here it is: I sometimes wonder if I’m doing things “right”. Do you ever do that? I do, and it just never feels good. Thing is, I know that when I worry about doing stuff right – it always means I’m comparing, judging, negating myself in some way and it makes me feel like that stuff you scrape off your shoe. I know I’m not alone on this. I also know it’s not where I choose to reside.
The solution? It’s simple, if you’re brave enough to leap.
Here’s an example. Photography & social media. I’m on Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube… and those are just some of the ones I’m more active on. Makes me dizzy sometimes.
As a result I see ALOT of photographers’ and artists’ work. Some of them are amaaazing. If the stars align a certain way, it’ll mess with my head. The litany in there sounds something like this: “Oh god. Am I even doing this RIGHT?? Look what [he/she] did. I should travel more. Maybe I should just focus on one thing, post more shots of a me or a human subject standing in the middle of my shot, looking up.” (Oh, please, don’t get me started on THAT!)
On Contrast (It’s Not Just For Photography)
Point being… that inner yapping makes me feel lousy. But you know what? That is actually AWESOME! Because if all of a sudden I start feeling lousy (this stuff usually happens all of a sudden, if you’re paying attention)… it’s such a dramatic contrast to how I feel most of the time, I know something’s up.
And at that moment, I actually get kind of excited, because now I get to course-correct myself into something even better. Some of my most awesome creations began as moments just like this.
On Breaking It Down
Here’s how I break it down.
The Worst: Is when I feel crappy. Frozen with doubt. When that nefarious naysayer voice in my head is blabbing, telling me lies, making me feel small and “less than.” What do I see through this lens? Nuthin’. Nada. Zip. My reality selection feels flat as a pancake on a dirty street in horse and buggy days. I resist everything.
The Best: Is when I’m happy. Joyful. Light. Looking forward to all the wonderful things I get to create in this lifetime. From that feeling, my ideas are better, my work is better… I SEE so much better through my lens! Better things effortlessly come my way, more delightful surprises… surprise me. Magic happens.
Who can change worst to best: Moi. Me. Myself.
How: By shifting the thoughts I’m thinking and the feelings I’m feeling. People think their thoughts and feelings “just happen” – or worse yet, think they depend upon ANYTHING outside of themselves. But pick out some better thoughts and feelings to focus upon and Voila! Re-landscape your whole life. I’ve observed and experienced this enough now for it to be one of those “What I know for sure” things. It sure is important to know for your creative process… and in life.
The Bonus: Oh yeah. There are usually fun surprises…
What’s It Look Like?
The Worst: Me doing the old “am I doing it right?” trick to myself in New York. I was there to speak, to have some meetings, to shoot when and where I could in between. It wasn’t technically a photography trip. Rather than relaxing about that… I started feeling anxious about what I was and was not shooting. (Oh NOW it’s a photography trip? WTF?) Comparing myself to others who have so brilliantly captured this city. Freezing up inside as I wondered if I was doing ANYTHING right. Nice, huh?
Who can change worst to best: Me. I palm-slap my forehead. “Stop it!” I holler in a firm-yet-loving manner. I consider this constricted, icky feeling in my gut. It’s definitely a brilliant example of how I DON’T want to feel. So… what WOULD I like to feel? (That’s the important next question. My little kid always gets excited about it, which is a good sign.)
I answer: Happy. Fun. Full of life. Loving and loved. And… free of judgment about what is or isn’t the right way to approach photography. Feeling so grateful to do what I do and blessed to get to see the things I do. Loving my life and the beauty I see all around me. In my flow. Just thinking about that stuff make me start feeling better. To take it all a step further…
I decide to go visit one of my besties and forget about photography for an afternoon. Shift gears. OF COURSE I always take a camera… and since I wasn’t sure if it would rain or not I grab my Fuji X-T1 and 16-55mm lens (they’re weather-sealed) and head downtown.
On Allowing Flow to Happen
Erica Hill and I go back 17+ years to the TechTV days. TechTV was a technology television network based in San Francisco. I was hired as the network talent coach, to teach the tech folk how to do TV… and the TV peeps how to talk tech convincingly. It was a BLAST! I met 3 of my best friends there… Erica being one of them. It’s been so thrilling to watch her success and happiness grow since then.
We’re both so stinkin’ busy it’s hard to find time… but that day we MADE some and met up at her office at 30 Rock (NBC headquarters at Rockefeller Center). It’s always fun stepping into her world, where we’re as likely to talk seriously about things as we are to take silly selfies with a sock puppet and a microphone:
The Best: In that moment, I felt full and grateful and full of appreciation for this dear friend who sings me a song on my birthday (and vice versa), who always makes time despite a busy family, an impossible work schedule, travel and commitments… who talks with me about things that matter and who is always there for me. And vice versa. I found myself not giving a rat’s ass about what was “right”… I was just having FUN, feeling all those things I wanted to feel.
The Bonus: Something magical happened. (It always does when you let go, choose better thoughts and feelings and let inspiration come to YOU.)
I had the chance to do this: shoot this 3-shot vertical pano overlooking the skating rink. I didn’t expect it, it just kind of happened.
It was organic; a real moment from my life and no one else’s. I didn’t have to think about it, it came to me as an inspired moment; one worth sharing. One that will always remind me that I have a choice about how I think and feel – and that choosing BETTER ones will always change my life.
I think of this photo as a kind of life-as-art love child.
Know what else? It felt RIGHT… as a fershure, not a question.
Why Focus on All This?
Why deal with all this “inner voice” stuff?
Because as an artist, an expresser of things, you’re all you got. You ARE the instrument, the interpreter of what you experience – whether it be photography, art, life. Your camera, paintbrush, experiences are all just waiting for your inspiration and enlightened direction.
If you’re all plugged up with fear, doubt and worry (as my dad used to say)… you’re out of your flow. You can’t access your muse, your higher guidance, your inspiration… your real, true VOICE.
And that sucks.
The beautiful thing: all it takes to shift out of that mess is to think a better thought, choose better feeling… then another, then another… rinse, repeat.
It’s shockingly, almost annoyingly simple. 😉
Photo Plus Expo 2015 in New York City streaked by like a Jedi star cruiser! By that, I mean FAST. Really fast. Is everything gonna be like that now? Because if so, I need to get me one ‘o them speed suits like downhill skiers wear so I can slice the air more effectively. Sheesh!
I went this year as a Fuji X-Photographer… how rad is THAT? As such, I spoke on three consecutive days. On the topics of my choice… which is where it got really, really fun. Remember that post where I talked about life kicking into a new gear? . This is the beginning. And I was in some mighty fine company!
The Yakking Points
Of course, I provided the titles and descriptions for each talk. They were:
“The French Mirrorless Diet”:
How I shed pounds, freed my muse and discovered Raw truth in France with my Parisienne paintbrush, Lady Fuji.
“Find Your Voice, Free Your Soul” and
“Live Your Life As Your Art”: Your Soul’s Genius Unleashed
Yes, Fuji approved these beforehand! Besides their incredible cameras, you can perhaps begin to see why I love this company. It includes, but goes so much deeper than, gear.
The X-Factor is You
To me, the overall connective tissue amongst all of these talks is the real estate BEHIND the camera. (That would be you. And me.) It’s great to have “the best” gear… but what IS that, exactly? I looked around at the thousands of people streaming through the Expo over those 3 days and thought to myself “everyone here is seeking that magic bullet. Wants it. Desires that something ‘more’.” But do they know what it is? How will they know when they’ve found it? And what will they do once they have it?
Truthfully, IMHO the best camera is the one you have in your hands. If all you have handy is your phone camera… then by god, THAT is absolutely the best one! It is also true that if you actually find a camera that inspires and entices you… the way you see, the possibilities you consider, the creative roads you travel… will all shift. These are not mutually exclusive notions.
The wild card is YOU. What do love, what do you stand for? That’s where it begins.
I used lots of my own images as illustrations… and this was our fun and intimate stage.
It Boils Down To This
As I walked around the expo, I listened to snippets of how-to talks and gear presentations. Very interesting, all. However, I chose to make a different set of points.
Because, you see, I believe with all my heart that feeling fulfilled, creative, joyful and ALIVE… all starts here:
(My pal Laurie Rubin caught me doing that thing I love so much. The photo I was shooting follows):
That Print Question…
OH BTW – for those wondering how Fuji images look printed? Yeah, they look pretty freaking fantastic! This was the one I was so honored to see hanging right next to one of Bill Fortney‘s:
These events are always so wonderful for connecting with friends old and new… including the lovely Cusi Taylor of the Photographer’s Adventure Club (PAC), who interviewed me as part of their comprehensive coverage at PPE:
The Bottom Line
Why do I think any and all of this matters? It’s simple:
And that, my friends, is what I truly believe all those people wandering the hallways of Photo Plus Expo are truly seeking. That moment of beauty and grace that awakens THEIR soul to act and shed its magnificent light.
After all… photography’s raw materials are LIGHT and TIME. It’s what we work with… it’s what our cameras help us spin into our most precious message.
Whew! I knew September would be a whirlwind, I just didn’t expect it feel like I’d been in a Cuisinart!
I don’t mean painful-Cuisinart, like sticking your hand into a blender for real (step awaaaay from that thought!).
I just mean it’s like that moment when new people, experiences, ideas and possibilities all come thundering in like a tsunami and get whipped together like some crazy awesome new smoothie recipe!
These tasty ingredients hail from all over the world… and will be appearing soon in a blog post near you… Continue reading “Art From a Brain Cuisinart”
Most of you probably got the newsletter last week: we’ve launched The Inspirarium! Super fun, way exciting.
But what the heck is an “Inspirarium”? There’s a bit of a story to it… and an evolution, if you will.
There Was This Day…
One day whilst in New York, I had a morning all to myself (shocking!!). I decided to grab my camera and head out. No real goal or plan… just get out there and see stuff. I hadn’t done that yet in the neighborhood where I was staying… and it had easy access to Central Park, among other cool neighborhoodie sights.
It was a frisky-brisk fall day. Whereas back home the autumn leaves had all but fallen – here, they were still heating up. (Let’s hear it for two autumns in one year!). So of course, I ended up in Central Park.
The big elm trees were putting on a show. I can tell you two things: I’m a sucker for elm trees and I LOVE a good show! This particular show moment is brought to you by the friendly-friends who were walking that morning, who so very kindly provided scale for these awesome trees. To me, it was quintessentially Central Park, autumn… and life. Sigh.
By this image, you could easily think I’m in some dark, “tortured artist” phase. But mais non! It is not true!
One of the really cool things about photography is how you can stop time. We we all love the notion of frozen moments… captured for all eternity. Or at least until the digital file goes corrupt, rolls over and dies with its little legs stiff in the air like a cartoon stick figure death. Which hopefully that happens in some mythical faaaaar off distant future. But I digress…
Some Stuff I Like About This Photo
Y’know what I like about this photo? The colors. The light. The tree. The clouds (lerrrrrv the clouds!). The way it looks like the tree is dreaming those clouds out of its dreamy little noggin. That it’s vertical. Just some stuff I like about it. It’s not a million dollar print, but it’s a cool little photo, IMHO. It was taken in Croton-on-Hudson, New York (literally ON the Hudson!) a couple of weeks ago.
As I sit here with a nasty code in by doze in NYC… getting ready to travel home tomorrow… I look back and marvel at all I got to experience whilst here in NYC over 2 short weeks! OK, I’m paying the price for it now, but I’m feeling like a very lucky girl right now.
One of the marvelous peeps that I got to spend time with was Rick Sammon. First at his fall workshop in Croton-on-Hudson along with his amazing wife and partner Susan Sammon – she’s the BEST! Then he agreed to do a Quick Chat with me at Photo Plus Expo:
Who’s Game for an Impromptu Interview?
Last week while I was at Photo Plus Expo in New York City, I did a series of fun interviews. I decided to call them “Quick Chats”. Cause, well, that’s what they are!
The premise: Grab whomever I could for a couple of minutes and ask ’em a bunch of questions, man-on-the-street style. I was going for super impromptu, very real & authentic, fun – even silly. I just wanted to know what would happen if I said “Hi What’s new?” and let it rip.**
We kick it off with Alan Shapiro, who’s a dear friend and unbelievably creative and talented photographer. Alan resides in a world of creativity that is just rarified. I love how he thinks, love his work… love him!
He’s working on a book project called “Among Us’, which he explains. Of course, we horse around on our way to the point. Heh.
My fabulous friend and photography partner in crime Laurie Rubin shot the video… THANK YOU LAURIE! She did this on my Sony NEX-7. The video is organic, real and intended to feel kinda like standing right there.
** Note: No one I asked turned me down. It was really just an experiment… now I want to do more!
Presets & Textures… Oh My!
I love new experiences. Roll them in a nice coating of fun, learning curve rich goodness and I’m hooked!
Such was my experience in creating new presets and textures for Macphun. I was delighted and honored when they asked me to do so.
I went to town on them a few months ago. I’ve certainly created and used my own textures… but not strictly for and in black and white – and never presets. What a cool thing to do! (You can create your own too, BTW… it’s yet another way to create your own unique touches.)
Since then, I’ve been using them ALOT to fine tune and get ’em dialed in. I finally like the results! And now… two are being released in their new Marketplace this week… the KHutt Urbex textures and The Dynamic Collection presets, both created for Tonality Pro. Click this link to see what they look like. Or just click on the images below.
(I put them here so you know what they’ll look like on the page.)
There are also presets and such from several other fabulous photographers – so if you like presets and textures, you MUST have a gander.
For any regular Macphun product you do decide to spring for… use the code KHUTT for 10% off your purchase. (Discount = yay!!)
However, please note that the presets and textures are not included in that discount. Sorry! But the good news is that they’re super inexpensive to begin with and you’ll barely miss it. 😀
Tonality Pro Webinar
Then… you can get 10% off the purchase of any Macphun product by using the code KHUTT.
(You don’t actually have to wait for the webinar for that… it’s good any old time.)
The actual time/date is: September 10, 2014, 10am Pacific Time.
I thought I’d mention all of this right up front, ’cause I don’t do a ton of webinars, so this will be fun. (And free.) I’m excited!
Before… and Two Ever-Afters
So, to get us all in the mood, I thought I’d share one of the photos I’m going to work through. It was taken in The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in New York City. This is the RAW image, complete with big fat, unsightly ladder and a couple of workmen who didn’t have the good sense to know there was an ARTISTE at work and move their butts!! hahahaha!
Options in Life… and Post Processing
A girl loves her options.
I’m ridiculous about it. Ideas or plans without options are useless to me. Snoresville. Like spandex that only comes in black. No options? Whuuuuut?? I do not speak this strange language!
To give you but a small (trust me, it’s small for me!) example of this in photographic terms, I give you 5 images. One original, 4 variations done in Tonality Pro by Macphun Software. I’m doing a free webinar next week on this very plugin. I do SO love to set the stage ahead of time in a properly conspiratorial manner. My husband would guffaw right now. In fact, he probably WILL give a hearty snort when he reads this! (which he will.)
The first one is the original, processed before I discovered the mighty Macphun in Adobe Camera Raw… except for that bit of clouds in the upper right corner, which I tucked in there using Photoshop. Cause this girl does NOT suffer boring, colorless skies easily, nor does she intend to start anytime soon! It should come as no surprise to learn THAT’S a whole other story. (Coming soon to a blog near you).
The Paragon of Paint
But our story for today begins here, at an incredibly run down building in Queens, NY. It was so urbex and cool. It also cracked me up, because of the paint job on a building which is the home of Paragon Paint. I took it as a single shot on my Sony NEX-7. (Yes, I’m still carrying it!)
Yesterday’s post about Phil the Peacock has a Part 2.
It’s name is Jim.
He’s Phil’s fully technicolor counterpart.
He also lives at The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine; and was named after the dean of the Cathedral, The Very Reverend Dr. James A. Kowalski.
What follows is what I learned about Jim during my short visit.
White Peacocks.. What the Whuuut?
His name is Phil.
He lives at The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in New York City.
He was dubbed thus after Phillip Foote, the former head of The Cathedral School.
Phil made my day.
It’s Time to Go
I voyage home today.
And I will be back.
New York has been amazing. No, make that beyond amazing.
Friends… family… new Chat episodes… food… scenes from all over the city… photography… sigh.
I covered SO much territory on foot that I’m in better shape now than when I arrived 2 weeks ago!
There was the day I did 26,000 steps. My UP band said that’s 17 miles. Then again, I haven’t calibrated it so I doubt it’s being accurate.
There was music. My stepson, Caleb Dolister is a drummer. So we went to some of his music gigs in places we’d never have seen otherwise. Like the spot in Queens where I captured this awesome moment. He said “There’s a cool view of the Manhattan Skyline at the end of that street. It only takes a few minutes to get there, want to see it?” And he took us to the most breathtaking spot, where that skyline showed off like a star in the heavens. (I’ll share the panorama I took of it very soon!)
We saw K.J. Denhert at the 55 Bar in the West Village. If you like outrageously awesome jazz singer/musicians… go see her some Saturday night! My husband Joe is a lifelong jazz bass player. Suffice it to say, he was over the moon with her band… and the entire music scene here.
There was so, SO much more! But now… I’ll be on my way to the airport in a little over an hour. Home late tonight. However, the memories of this trip will stay with me forever.
More awesome photos and stories to come!
Yes, you can purchase this print! Just click on the photo – then click “Buy”. Voila!
Need other sizes than the ones listed? Just contact me!
I Love To Pass Great Deals on to My Friends!
And this is one of them!! PLUS… use the code KHUTT and get 10% off this fabulous price on the MacPhun Creative Suite! It includes their Creative Suite, a ViewBug Premium membership & their brand new Macphun app. (due for release this Summer!!
The catch: MacPhun is limiting this deal to the first 500 people. So, if you want to get your MacPhun on… get going!
MacPhun has recently become one of my favorite plugins… and I use a lot of ’em!
But hey, acquiring a palette of plugins for your post-processing can get PRICEY!! I’m big on discounts. Big. Discounts.
I love Intensify Pro for getting the details and contrasts out of an image… and have recently become enamored with Focus Pro 2 for creating selective focus effects on certain images, like the one at the bottom of this post.
But hey, less blabbing, more clicking! Click on the image below – enter KHUTT where it says “Discount Code” at checkout – and get 10% off the entire suite! (at least till the 500 are gone. Doh!)