Fujilove LIVE, NYC: 2017

Fujilove LIVE

February, New York City. Fujilove LIVE. What the heck is Fujilove, you ask? Well, it’s a website, a Facebook group, a magazine, a podcast, an academy – a movement!  It’s the passion and brainchild of professional musician and photographer Tomasz Trzebiatowski, who is one of the loveliest and most genuine people I’ve met in recent years. He lives in Lucerne, Switzerland – and we allllmost met when I was there last year. But a freak late spring snowstorm made me change my plans, so we missed like ships in the night. Continue reading “Fujilove LIVE, NYC: 2017”

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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The Annoyingly Simple Thing That’ll Change Your Art & Life

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?

This:

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:

EricaKaren1

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.

30 Rock

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. 😉

 

 

A Fuji-full Photo Plus Expo 2015!

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!

FullSizeRender-1

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.

Karen_Fuji1

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.

ArtistVocation.001

I used lots of my own images as illustrations… and this was our fun and intimate stage.

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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:

DrawnByWhatYouLove.001

(My pal Laurie Rubin caught me doing that thing I love so much. The photo I was shooting follows):

KarenShooting

MirrorsToThePast

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:

Karen_Print

 

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:

BeautyAwakensSoul.001

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.

Art From a Brain Cuisinart

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”