Everyday Inspiration

These days, I’m not prioritizing photography very much. But if and when I can find or make time for photography, I know I am able to pick up my camera and find a subject I love nearby and that’s pretty special.

I live in a beautiful place. Not a week goes by where I don’t feel lucky for that. I would be lying if I said I noticed it every day, but most days I do.

Sometimes I notice it only briefly on the ride to or from work. I’ll see Monadnock rising high in the sky against the fading daylight or fog lifting off beaver swamps at the break of day, the sun penetrating through the forest mist in rays of shimmering light. Sometimes I go for morning runs around a local pond, and no matter how many times I tread the same path, I still can’t help but admire the view.

On the days when I notice, I think, boy am I lucky to live in a place like this.

Chesterfield, New Hampshire, cow, fog

I love this state.

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Amateur Hour

I love not being a career photographer. Ever since I gave up using photography as my main source of income I have been a much happier person.

These days I work long hours at a local non-profit, working mostly with youth and teens, encouraging them to live healthy lifestyles, make good decisions, get involved in athletics and fitness, and give back to the community. I love going to work every day, and the community and environment where I work is vibrant and engaging and both challenges and supports me. I have an amazing team of people to collaborate with on projects and assist me in accomplishing my goals. I believe in my organization, the work we are doing, and how we are connected with our members and community. It’s awesome and so different from photography.

Of course I still love photography, and I don’t mind supplementing my salary with occasional print or stock sales, assignments or projects that excite me, or leading a workshop or doing a presentation for a non-profit or local camera club. I really do enjoy that work and if people seek me out and I have the time and energy to invest in a photography gig here and there, I’m happy to do it. But mostly, I’m just doing my non-photography thing every day and enjoying it, and when I do end up with a camera in hand, I don’t have to be a professional. It’s pretty cool.

There are a lot of cool things about being an amateur photographer, and to me, they outweigh the cool things about being a pro. Here are my top four:

1) I get to shoot what I want, when I want, because I want to. I can be very selective or not at all – it’s my choice! In the ongoing battle I have with editing my tens of thousands of cataloged images I realized that so many of my “meh” photos are a result of feeling pressure to shoot, whether because I was scouting for a workshop or on assignment or just because I invested time and money in a “photo” trip and wanted to take images even when the conditions were horrible. Now I photograph when I’m inspired, and I don’t feel bad about not shooting if I don’t want to. The result is a lot less photos, but a lot less garbage photos too. I also find that I spend more time experimenting with new subjects. For a while, I concentrated my photography mostly on nature and wildlife, and while this is still my main focus and passion, I’ve gone on to shooting some sports and portraits at work and bought a lens that will be good for photographing food for my food blog (I’m way into fitness and healthy eating). The coolest part is that I can use my time to learn, experiment, fail, etc. and there is no pressure to produce anything most of the time I shoot. I love that!

2) I can pick and choose what projects I take on. This fall, I am leading a fall foliage workshop for the Appalachian Mountain Club. I’m really excited about it because the workshop is going to take place in the White Mountains, a place I absolutely love, and because I’m doing it through the AMC, which is a fantastic non-profit organization based in the northeast that provides a great service combining education, recreation, and conservation relating to the environment and the northeast Appalachian Mountain states. AMC people tend to be a lot like me – fun down-to-earth outdoor lovers who appreciate nature and the environment. On an AMC workshop, I’m less likely to have a participant that is ignorant about the environment, wilderness ethics like LNT, or has no appreciation or understanding of the subject. Some people love having clients who shell out big bucks for a luxury photo vacation in an exotic destination, but that’s not really my style. I like teaching hard working people and sharing with them my love for close-to-home locations that I feel a deep connection to. I feel more comfortable in more humble accommodations and around clientele whose lifestyles and values more closely resemble mine. If you are interested in joining me for the Fall Foliage workshop, spaces are still available!

3) I spend WAY less time behind the computer and way less time doing business stuff. I don’t need to market myself because my photography related income is irrelevant, so when I do get behind a computer for photography, it’s mostly for editing and processing photos and then sharing them for fun. I don’t need to be strategic about when or where I share my images, and don’t need to spend time coddling other photographers, reevaluating my marketing strategies, and nitpicking my bills. For example, I had been posting an “Image of the Month” each month along with a coupon discount code, but saw no extra traffic to my website or increased print sales because of it, so I stopped doing it. It was taking up my time and became a chore rather than being fun. I’m just not going to worry whether I’m blogging regularly enough or not – I’d rather post less content and have it be meaningful and fun for me to do. There is no need for my site to be recent or relevant if I’m not relying on sales from it. I can organize my time as I see fit, and that includes not being behind the computer all day!

4) VACATION! For someone who has traveled as much as I have, I have taken very few vacations in my lifetime. Almost all of my traveling has had to do with photography, school, or work, and one of these days I’m planning to take a vacation that is really just for me. I’m very excited for that.

Being an amateur (or semi-pro or part-time pro) rocks!

Fade to Blue : Prints Available

The sunset illuminates the sky over islands and mountains at Acadia National Park in Maine. Acadia is one of my favorite places on earth and vistas like this are part of the reason why. Every hike in Acadia has amazing views.

PS: I haven’t been shooting very much because I have been CRAZY busy with my real job, but I did get the chance to edit this super cool image from Acadia. I recently ordered a 9×2 foot triptych of this to put in the living room of my new house (which is another thing that has been keeping me busy). “Fade to Blue” has been added to my site. I also did a little website reorganizing, changing up the layout a bit. I like it better and hope you do too!

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It’s Loon Season!

By now you’ve probably figured out that I LOVE loons. They are seriously cool birds and make very interesting subjects to photograph. Yesterday, I headed out to one of my favorite ponds to see if the nesting pair I had photographed a couple of years ago had returned. Sure enough, they were there and had a little baby in tow!

This pond is less than 20 minutes from my house now that I’ve moved, which means that sunrise shoots are super manageable, even during the summer, when days in New England are quite long. I woke up at 4am in time to photograph yesterday’s sunrise and then spend a couple of hours with the loons before the light got too harsh.

Here are a few quickly processed shots from yesterday. I haven’t even put them live on the website yet, and still have to edit a bunch of images, but I’m pretty happy with my first real photo shoot of 2014.




I also created this quick video with some GoPro footage (from my ancient first generation GoPro) to show you what it’s like to spend a morning on the pond. As you’ll see I use both my iPhone and 5D Mark II to capture images. I love having the ability to instantly share photographs from the field using the iPhone, but the DSLR beats it hands down when it comes to quality.

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Image of the Month: June 2014

waterfall, Chesterfield, New Hampshire, waterfall

Sugarbush Falls : Prints Available

A beautiful waterfall cuts through a hemlock forest, as the sun peaks out ever so slightly after a rain.

June’s Image of the Month is this one, of a lovely waterfall in its lush green late spring glory. I chose this photograph because the location is one that is very special to me and currently changing. For the past three years, I have lived on a beautiful piece of property in the southeastern corner of New Hampshire, where I have rented a room/apartment from a fantastic retired couple. Sugarbush Hill spans 60+ acres of field and woodland, and we are lucky enough to have a brook that runs through the property and drops along an area where the topography changes and it drops in tiers of waterfalls. Since the waterfalls are located on private property, I never have to contend with other photographers, swimmers, or other outdoor recreation enthusiasts at the falls and they are a mere five minute walk from my door. I have never taken advantage of this luxury as much as I should, but during late spring when water levels are high and everything is vivid green with fresh new leaves, the waterfalls are pretty spectacular and make a great photographic subject.

Last week I closed on a new home and am in the process of moving all of my worldly possessions out of my apartment at Sugarbush Hill. I’m really excited about this new chapter in my life, but leaving such a beautiful home with such great people is somewhat bittersweet, as all good endings should be. This morning, I woke up at Sugarbush Hill to see the outside world shrouded in fog and hear the birds singing happily despite the lack of morning sun. The trees and plants are dressed in their boldest green, and the water is running heavily and clearly through all the streams. This is likely my last morning here, as I have just a couple more car trips to move the last of my things. As eager as I am to finish the moving out process, I know I will miss this place and it will remain fondly forever in my heart.

PS: Don’t forget, you can get 15% off current Image of the Month prints. Just enter code IOTM at checkout.

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180 Degrees from Yester Year

I’m packing. Again. Packing has always been one of my least favorite chores, along with laundry and trips to the post office to mail things, both of which need to be done as well. A year ago, I would have been packing for my eighth trip of the year, to be immediately followed by a ninth, but this year it’s my first and also possibly my last.

This year is different from last year in so many ways. Last year I wandered from continent to continent, from sea level to 19,000 feet, over oceans and across the equator. This year, I’ve stuck to New England, with only a single recent trip to New Jersey to visit my mom. Last year I photographed rhinoceros and crocodiles, this year nothing. From the outside, this year might seem anticlimactic and ordinary, but I’m not only okay with it, I love it.

This year, I am buying a house, starting a new full time position at a place I love to work, and spending time investing in myself and nurturing relationships with people I care about. I am busier, happier, and healthier than I have been in a long time. My work has nothing to do with photography, and months go by where I don’t pick up my camera. Photography is still a part of my life, but not an everyday part.

When I see photographers posting advertisements for workshops on Facebook or images from their latest and greatest adventures abroad, I feel no envy. I actually think, “Thank goodness I am done with that.” Then I go to work, get accidentally pelted with a hockey puck, reprimand a group of 6th graders for yelling too loudly, and discover a new bruise on my collarbone from dynamic dumbbell squats.

These days, I am most inspired by the kids who work a project on our climbing wall for days, weeks, or months until one day they finally make it to the top. I’m inspired by local photographers who capture the beauty of New England with such detail and artistry that you would have no idea that they work night shifts behind a bar and shoot with an entry level camera. I’m inspired by the obese woman who gets up the courage to join a gym and put on a bathing suit because swimming is the only activity she can do that doesn’t hurt her joints because of her weight. It’s cool if you are one of those photographers who has spent tens of thousands of dollars on camera gear and traveled halfway around the world to photograph the same attractions in ways similar to how hundreds of others have before, but you no longer inspire me and I no longer envy you. It’s cool and all, but it doesn’t bring happiness to my heart or tears to my eyes the way the people in my life now do.

This year is new and exciting in a much different way than last year, and I find myself enjoying each day more and more and very happy with the direction my life has taken. As I pack, I am reminded of all of the clutter of the past. I am both surprised and saddened by all of the unnecessary possessions I have accumulated in the three years I have lived here. My goal has always been to “Simplify! Simplify!” as Thoreau once wrote, and now I am finally doing it.

It has never been easy to decide between wanting to travel and explore and experience the world and my desire to have a place that feels like home and people who are more or less constant forces in my life. Balance is key, of course, but it is hard to find. Now, as I pack my backpacking gear for one last trip, and everything else for a final move, purging all the excess I don’t need, I feel happy and light. I am at peace with my choices and their outcomes. I am happy where I am in life. I know none of these things are forever, but it’s nice to know where home will be and where my paycheck will come from for the foreseeable future. The very best part – familiar hugs are just a few miles away when I need them.

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Image of the Month: May 2014

aughing gull, gull, larus atricilla, assateague island, assateague island national seashore, maryland

Laughing Gull Disagreement : Prints Available

A scuffle between two adult Laughing Gulls (Larus atricilla) on the beach on Assateague Island in Maryland.

Because the first of this month happens to fall on a Thursday, I’ve picked a much older image to share in keeping with the #throwbackthursday trend on social media. Why not?

This photograph, of two laughing gulls in a bit of a squabble, was taken back in 2006 at the beginning of my nature photography career. I call it the beginning because although I had been taking pictures much longer and have loved animals, plants, and the outdoors my whole life, 2006 was when I started to focus my professional photography skills almost exclusively on subjects related to nature. That was the year I began dating another nature photographer, who I would end up spending the following three years learning from and traveling and shooting with, the year I bought a telephoto lens to enable me to photograph wildlife from a distance, and the year I bought a car, to give me freedom to explore wild places on my own.

This was on one of my first outings with my new boyfriend and new lens. We drove to Assateague National Seashore because I had visited there once before and loved it, and Chris had never been even though he lived in northern Virginia, much closer to Assateague than I did in New Jersey. The laughing gulls were in full breeding plumage and being hysterical, as usual, so I crawled on my belly on the beach to snap shots of them as they pranced along ahead of the turquoise blue waves. I was enthralled with my new-to-me Sigma 500mm f/4.5 lens and happily took many photos, managing to capture this great interaction between two gulls as they squabbled over territory. This image stayed undisturbed on my hard drive for some time afterwards, until I one day discovered it and decided I really loved it. Now it’s one of my favorites.

Photographed with a Nikon D70 and Sigma 500mm f/4.5 lens.

REMEMBER: A 15% discount is available for all purchases of the Image of the Month during the month that it is featured only. If you would like to order prints or other products of this photograph, now is the time to do it. Just enter discount code IOTM at checkout.

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What a Busy Month!

Wow have things been busy. I know I know, my life is ALWAYS busy, but it’s true and I like it that way!

Earlier this month, I led a photo workshop for my alma mater, Antioch University New England, where I completed my Master’s of Science in Environmental Studies back in 2012. The workshop was a great success, and I had a group of eager and enthusiastic students from Antioch and the local community. Feedback from the workshop has been very positive and I had a great time, so hopefully I’ll be offering some more local workshops in the future. Here is what a couple of the participants had to say:

“Workshop was great! Very informative. I liked the variety of exercises in class as well as the presentation style of the teacher.”

“[It] as great to spend time with such an accomplished photographer and nature lover. [Kari] was very engaging, friendly and helpful, and knew her subject thoroughly.”

This October, I plan to offer a fall foliage workshop in the White Mountains through the Appalachian Mountain Club. If you have any interest in attending and would like more information, feel free to send me an email so I can keep you in the loop and you can be one of the first to sign up.

Teaching photography is not the only thing that has kept me busy this month – there have also been some BIG personal changes taking shape as well. As you may know, I have plans to move from my lovely shared apartment to a new home and some new developments on that front that have kept me very busy. I’m not ready to divulge what they are yet, but I am very excited about them and will reveal what they are when the time is appropriate.

In the meantime, I’m still trying to declutter and clean house before my move. My goal is to “Simplify! Simplify!” as Thoreau put it, and get rid of all of my access things and belongings that I have no need or desire to take with me. While I LOVE my photographs, I’d much prefer to sell off my remaining stock, move only things I absolutely want and need to my new home, and then restock prints once I’ve settled in.

Here’s what is left:

“Iris Abstract” – 8×12 print signed and matted to 12×16 inches, regular price $40 unmatted, $50 matted. SALE price $35 matted!

“RB Ricketts Falls in Springtime” – 16×24 print. Regular price $150, SALE price $125!

“Northern Gannet in Flight” – 8×12 print signed and matted to 12×16 inches, regular price $40 unmatted, $50 matted. SALE price $35 matted!

“Snowy Egret Portrait” – 8×12 print signed and matted to 12×16 inches, regular price $40 unmatted, $50 matted. SALE price $35 matted!

“A Farewell to Summer” – 16×24 printed on aluminum with a glossy finish and ready to hang. Regularly $250, sale price $200!

“Madison at Sunset” – 8×12 print signed and matted to 12×16 inches, regular price $40 unmatted, $50 matted. SALE price $35 matted!

“Twisted” – 8×12 print signed and matted to 12×16 inches, regular price $40 unmatted, $50 matted. SALE price $35 matted!

“Snowy at Sunset” – 12×18 printed on aluminum with a satin finish and ready to hang. Regular price $175, sale price $125.

“Waves Washing Over Rocks” – 8×12 print signed and matted to 12×16 inches, regular price $40 unmatted, $50 matted. SALE price $35 matted!

“Pratt’s Falls” – 8×12 print signed and matted to 12×16 inches, regular price $40 unmatted, $50 matted. SALE price $35 matted! 2 available!

Monadnock Bog
“Bog on Mount Monadnock” – 8×12 print signed and matted to 12×16 inches, regular price $40 unmatted, $50 matted. SALE price $35 matted!

Also available is an “Artist Sample” 11×18 stretched canvas of Slow Motion Daydream, sale price $100. Normal price for a non-sample is $250! The Artist Sample means that the image has a copyright on the outside border (along the wrapped part of the canvas, not the front, and would not be at all visible if framed), and has been used for displays so it may be a little less “mint” than a brand new piece. Save 60% by taking advantage of this discount!!!

Please send me an email if you are interested in any of these prints or display pieces. Shipping within the continental USA on all prints and matted prints is included in the cost, but shipping costs extra for mounted pieces. Keep in mind that this sale won’t go on forever and once a print has sold, it is gone and any purchases made after will be at the full retail cost. Also, your purchases help me with my moving cost, so buying prints gets you great art at a great price and me a little less stress about my move. It’s a win win for everyone!

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Then and Now

I’m leading a photo workshop this weekend for my grad school alma mater, Antioch University New England. It will be my first in nearly a year, since I took a break from workshops and photography after leaving NatureScapes.Net to pursue other passions. This will be my first spring spent in New Hampshire; for the past five years I have traveled to Florida every April to attend the Florida’s Birding & Photo Fest. While I will miss seeing all of my friends in St. Augustine, I really am enjoying feeling settled here in New England and looking forward to spending spring in the northeast at home with my friends and family.

This photograph was taken on April 13th of last year, on the last day of an osprey workshop on Lake Blue Cypress near Vero, Florida. April 13th of this year I’ll be wrapping up my workshop with Antioch students in humble little Keene, New Hampshire. What a difference a year makes.


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Image of the Month: April 2014

Spring is and has always been my favorite season. When I lived in New Jersey, signs of spring became readily apparent April. In between what always seemed like a lot of rain, this was the month during which flowers began blooming in abundance, the song of birds began to greet me awake in the morning, and warm weather made it possible to wear fewer layers while enjoying the outdoors. The warm temperatures, smell of wet earth, and signs of new life, from critters becoming active again and buds appearing for the first time in months, have always made spring my favorite. This time of year is always filled with such hope and promise it seems.

I can’t help but think that my love for spring is somehow connected to my mom’s love of gardening. My mom has always maintained a fairly extensive flower garden, and all throughout college I made it a point to photograph her flowers at least a few times during the spring and summer months when they were in peak bloom and I was visiting home. In fact, mom’s flowers were the motivation for me to buy my first macro lens. Despite the hardships of trying to plant a beautiful organic garden in the suburbs of New Jersey (deer, rabbits, squirrels, and other critters enjoying making a meal of mom’s bulbs and buds), my mom keeps at it and I’m always amazed by the beauty of her little suburban oasis.

Tulips are my favorite flower. I love their shape, from the voluptuous bell shaped flower itself to the angular arching leaves that frame the thick stem on either side. The year this photo was taken my mom planted 200 tulip bulbs in her garden, knowing I loved them so much, and deer ate all but two of them. This was one of the survivors. The yellow and pink glow in the background are the only others.

Spring now is a little different that it was for me growing up. In New Hampshire, the approach of spring is a bit delayed and always preceded by mud season, which is pretty miserable. Here, the season is shorter, and aside from that, I’ve never actually spent a spring in New Hampshire. Ever since relocating several years ago, I have traveled for much of the spring season, spending a portion of April in Florida each year for the Birding and Photo Fest in St. Augustine, and heading down to Baltimore and West Virginia in May to lead a backpacking trip for Johns Hopkins University. This will be the first year since I’ve moved here that I will be able to experience a New Hampshire spring, departing for only two weeks at the end of May for the backpacking trip. Even though I anticipate it will be far less spectacular than those down south, where azaleas, rhododendrons, Eastern redbud, and numerous other flowers appear in abundance, I’m excited to be able to have time to enjoy the season at home, mud and all.

REMEMBER: A 15% discount is available for all purchases of the Image of the Month during the month that it is featured only. If you would like to order prints or other products of “Tulip Abstract” now is the time to do it!

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Remaining Prints Still for Sale

Thank you to all of you who have purchased some prints and helped me downsize before my move. I still have a few remaining items left:

8×12 Prints Matted to 12×16 Inches – $35 each, including shipping in the continental USA. Regular price $50.
- Iris Abstract
– Northern Gannet in Flight
– Snowy Egret Portrait
– Madison at Sunset
– Twisted
– Waves Washing Over Rocks
– Pratt’s Falls
– Bog on Mount Monadnock

Unmatted 8×12 Prints – $35 or can be matted to 12×16 Inches for $40. Regular price $40 for print only, $50 matted. Shipping included.
- Spring Bloom
– The Southern Gentleman
– Country Morning

Also available
- RB Ricketts Falls in Springtime – 16×24 print. Regular price $150, SALE price $125!
- Snowy at Sunset – 12×18 printed on aluminum with a satin finish and ready to hang. Regular price $175, sale price $125.
- Slow Motion Daydream – 11×18 stretched canvas “Artist Sample”, sale price $100. Normal price for a non-sample is $250! The Artist Sample means that the image has a copyright on the outside border (along the wrapped part of the canvas, not the front), and has been used for displays so it may be a little less “mint” than a brand new piece. Save 60% by taking advantage of this discount!!!

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