Finding Your Voice: Day 10. Story.

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.


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
Schooner of Aha

Speak them in your OWN voice

Maybe you love woodworking. Your photography might include the story of what that means to you. Or of a particular piece you’re making. You might choose close up views of the tools, the woods, your hands – shot with a shallow depth of field, bathed in beautiful light. The textures, lighting, lines and designs you include to convey this story need to be chosen as thoughtfully as the piece you’re creating out of some gorgeous exotic wood.

Maybe you love waterfalls. What is it about them that moves you so much? The motion? The textures? The colors? With or without a person in the shot? The whole thing or does an abstracted section capture your imagination?

Floriston, CA

Each of those decisions (which should come from way deep inside of you- not from how many likes you’ll get on Instagram) will guide you to what camera is best (the one you’ve got is a good start), which lens, which settings to use, whether to use a tripod, time of day – ALL of that.

What will make the soul of your heart sing and make your inner light shine more radiantly?

The images you make from that point of view are the ones we will always, unequivocally know as your own. Because your voice will be strong. Different than anyone else’s, because YOU are different than anyone else. We all imitate others in the beginning stages of learning, that’s natural.  Photography is no different.

But there will come a point where you may want to move on from there. Instead of taking your lead from social media or how some ‘expert’ thinks you should create… but from the source of creation itself. The spark that lives inside of you.

Davenport, CA
The Spine of the Ocean

Remember: the best art touches us emotionally. We won’t feel anything if the artist doesn’t. But like any art form, it takes discipline. Thought. Discernment. Choices must be made. A connection between the tools and the expression has to be built. The awesome part: it’s never too late to start!

This applies to life too, y’know. The same process we’ve talked about here for the past 10 days could be re-focused (see how I did that?) and pointed to pretty much everything. What kind of story do you want your LIFE to tell? How do you want to feel as you adventure through it? That’s where life really does begin to imitate art (at first)… then it becomes an art unto itself.

New York City
The Entrance

Why wouldn’t you put the same level of care, thought, feeling, discernment, choices into your life that you’d put into your art?

Here’s the fun part. As you gently start focusing in this way, whether it be photography, painting, dance, acting – whatever – an amazing thing might happen. You might start finding yourself feeling happier. Making more life-affirming choices. Taking chances on your ideas. Not settling for less because you’re afraid to ask for more.

I’ve observed jobs, relationships, locations, careers, outlooks on life change dramatically from a process like this one. Personally, I think it’s because we are not compartmentalized beings. By nature, all of our parts are affected by one other. You can’t have a dramatic realization in one area of your life with out it affecting pretty much everything in some way.

I can tell you it’s been true for me… as well as just about everybody I’ve ever had the opportunity to teach, coach, help or observe over the years.

This is what has tempting me back into sharing/teaching/coaching these things. It’s that undeniable, stunning and awe-inspiring feeling of being part of someone opening to the possibility of  living the life of their dreams. It’s certainly what I want for myself! If I can share what I’ve learned along the way – well, the more the merrier!

What’s Your Story?

If you could tell one story, or make one point with all you’ve learned in your life, what would it be? You may be young, old, somewhere in between – but on this day, you’ve had a variety of life experiences. BRING THEM. Maybe you want more, want different, want light where you’ve only had darkness.

Let what you love most, with your heart, soul and light of all-that-is take you there.

What do you want to say? What’s in your heart? What’s one thing that if you DON’T say before you die, you’ll be sorry. What’s your take on things? What do you stand for? How do you want people to feel when they see your work? Or your life? What do YOU want to feel?

We use our voice in everything we say, do and are – from the day we hit the ground till the day we leave this place. You can’t hide who you really are… but you can learn to speak it more clearly.


Felton, CA

And finally: Please share this series with anyone you think might enjoy it!

Miss a day? No worries… they’re all right here:

Finding Your Voice, Part 1: My favorite way to feel.
Finding Your Voice, Part 2: My favorite time of day.
Finding Your Voice, Part 3: My favorite light.
Finding Your Voice, Part 4: My favorite texture.
Finding Your Voice, Part 5: My favorite element.
Finding Your Voice, Part 6: My favorite color.
Finding Your Voice, Part 7: My favorite movement.
Finding Your Voice, Part 8: My favorite shapes & patterns.
Finding Your Voice, Part 9: My favorite view.
Finding Your Voice, Part 10: My story.

14 thoughts on “Finding Your Voice: Day 10. Story.

  1. It’s amazing all the things that I learnt with these posts and how you explained your ideas with the examples. And the good thing is that all of them are really easy to implement… I just have to start using them to express my voice 😀 Thanks Karen!

  2. I’ve really enjoyed this series. It’s made me reflect on my approach to creating an image. If I think about it enough, all of what you have said in this series is there but it wasn’t a conscious process to me. The other thing I find is that often the subject can just ‘appear’. But strip this back and it comes back to your themes. Interesting.

    Looking forward to Roma .

    1. Great observations, Jane! And so true. Thanks for sharing these thoughts!

      And I’ll see you in Rome? Woot! What a fun time it’s going to be… 😀

  3. Agree with all the above, but can’t say so as eloquently as it has been said! Thank you for helping us look inward to find our own unique, creative voice, and the way to express who we have been, who we are and who we want to become.

  4. Thank you Karen for sharing your vision and inviting us into your passion, it has given me inspiration and loads to think about with my photography.

  5. Brilliant, just Brilliant. What a way to uncover the soul of photography or any other form of art. This was a fantastic read. Thank you so much for sharing!

  6. Strong stuff.ALL together…I have danced around it all for years in spits and spots but never so beautifully illustrated and never so authentically delivered. THANK YOU Again for putting it out here for me to see allllll together through a different lens- perhaps one that will keep the dots connected- now that photography has became so fullfilling a medium for me. 🙂 I am passionate about creativity in all forms, and this so easily crosses many of the paths I want to walk down now….thanks for putting a pep in my step 😉

    1. Thank you for all of your enthusiasm and energy throughout the series, Peg! It’s been so much fun to share – and I’m thrilled to hear that it hit the mark for you. Yay!
      Go team! 😀

  7. Fabulous series Karen! Thanks for all your hard work putting this together! Inspirational as always 🙂

    1. You’re welcome, Erin! It was a fun adventure, that’s for sure! Thank YOU for being here – and such an awesome supporter. You rock!

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