Photographer Talks At Google: Karen Hutton

Recently, I was asked to give a “Photographers Talk” at Google HQ in Mountain View, California. It was part of their ongoing “Talks At Google” series, which includes notable musicians, authors, candidates, scientists, celebrities, green technology… and of course, photographers! I was honored and delighted at the opportunity! I called it: “Signature: Finding Your Soul’s Genius & Voice in Your Photography”. I love this topic, because I truly believe living our life as an art can set us free.

Art Lets Us Dream

Why do I say that?
Because art lets us dream. It lets us manifest that dream. One thing about us humans: we are living, breathing, creation machines. Getting the end result we really, truly want to create takes some practice. It IS a practice; one that can take us to something truer and better. Doing our art completely, fully (whatever it is) – is like a living meditation, where we have the permissions and freedom to let a piece of our higher self speak and its desires come to life. When we let ourselves sink into taking or processing a photo, painting, creating music, creating the life of our dreams… everything changes for a time. Whether that time is short or forever is our choice.

Art Lets Us Access the Divine

It feels like home, because it is. Or at least a doorway to it.
And when we accept THAT simple truth and allow ourselves to move toward it… it’s no longer about the art, but about the feeling of basking in the light of Home. It’s like finding just the right word… the right flavor… the right person, place or thing. It’s Home. And keeping that as a touchpoint beacon, you can never go wrong. That’s when the Art of Living starts to happen.


These are a few of the anchor points I did my best to keep in mind when I created this talk. I haven’t tapped into my live “performing” skills in a long, long time. The circumstances around my leaving my acting career behind left me with one promise to myself: If I EVER perform again, it’s going to be on my terms. My words. My message. Period. No compromise, no negotiation.

So this was my first live performance since then. It felt AMAZING to be back. Amazing. Did I mention “amazing”? Yeah, amazing. I felt like I’d come home. Yeah, I see all the mistakes, hesitancies, critical voice made verbal, places that need to move better… ALL of it. But the only thing that REALLY matters is that I did it, warts and all. But here’s my point. Do you know the single biggest thing that brought me back? Photography. That’s my heart and where I found my own soul’s voice again.

In my 20’s, reactions to darkroom chemicals put an end to my dream of being a professional photographer. It was a bitter blow, but life goes on and so did I. Through my many endeavors and careers: figure skating, dance, equestrienne sports, acting, singing, voiceovers and more… I certainly was able to find some fulfillment. I loved them all and what they had to teach me. I wouldn’t change a thing, because of the depth and breadth of experiences I now have as a result. Throughout all of them, however, was this sense of needing to prove myself. Like I was never good enough. So I’d drive myself harder. Ultimately, each had a ceiling – a defining moment that told me… “you’ve got what you need here, time to move on now.” It wasn’t always a pleasant or graceful shift at the time – but that never mattered as much as the movement. And the vision I’d gained along the way.

Reunited Like Lost Lovers

When photography and I were finally reunited in a whole NEW way, around 2009… it was like the meeting two long lost lovers from a romance novel. So much to catch up on, to learn… yet at the core it was like we’d never left each other. We gazed into each other’s eyes for hours, days at a time, never tiring of one another. True love, reunited.

Photography let me dive deep, find the core of myself and It All. Strangely (since I’m a voiceover artist) it also helped me FINALLY find my voice. Possibilities and opportunities began to appear from all over; in particular the chance to begin weaving this whole story together into something that is both mine – and OURS. Because as artists, creatives and dreamers… finding our soul’s genius and voice IS our greatest creation! It’s a story we all share. The details and nuances may change… the core of the journey doesn’t.

An Artful Life

Art is defined as: “The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.” I have a new appreciation for the power of an artful approach to life. I feel an urgency, vitalness and NOW-ness to its call. Because in art, lies the opportunity to sidestep conditioning (that says “It’s impossible!), the critical voice in our heads (who chides, “You’ll never be good enough”), judgment (who decrees “That’s a stupid idea.”) and all those other land mines that freeze us in our tracks and SETTLE-FOR. Art beckons us to the path less traveled, a beautiful journey, with our soul and the infinite wisdom of the divine as our guide.

I know which I’d rather follow! Wanna come with? 😀

3 thoughts on “Photographer Talks At Google: Karen Hutton

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed your presentation at Google. And yes, I wanna come with… My journey with photography started with my Father. He studied at Art Center in LA. He was lucky to be instructed by Ansel Adams and it is only now I can see the lessons he gave me may have been given to him. Yet he did lecture me at an early age, “You are not an artist,remember, you are not an artist, learn something you can make money at.” I played at photography, doing a little darkroom work in High School, borrowing 35 mm cameras. Once I graduated college and started working, I was able to purchase a canon AE-1! Wow what a camera. I took pictures Played with photography but stayed away from processing. When I got married, my wife looked at my photos and said, “You are terrible, give me the camera.” So I stayed away from photography until 2007 when she kicked me out of the house. One of the first things I did, was go out and buy a DSLR. I felt good. It was like being reunited with your lost lover, as you mentioned.

    What I like about photography today, is that you can process your photos without the chemicals or darkroom. You can share them with your friends or strangers on the web. You can get feedback. At first I was hesitant to do much processing on the photos, but lately, I am doing more and enjoying the creative process. So yes, wanna come with…

    By the way, I’ve looked at my old photos, they weren’t bad, in fact I think they were pretty good. I should have never let someone take away my creative outlet. I will never let anyone take that again.

    Thank you for the inspiration and reinforcing the conviction that no one should ever take your creative side away!

    1. What a great story, Cal… go for it, never let anyone tell you otherwise! And thank you for sharing this.

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