Travel photography seems like something that only social media “influencers” do these days, but that is absolutely not the case. Travel photography as a genre and as a specialism for professional photographers is as strong and vibrant now as it ever was. And they don’t get much better than photographers like Karen Hutton.
For Karen, though, travel photography isn’t just about shooting pretty landscapes. It’s a philosophy. An entire way of life. SmugMug caught up with Karen to find out more about her philosophy and what makes her tick in their new film. It’s wonderfully inspiring and packed with amazing photography.
Karen has guidelines for her photography philosophy. The summary of those guidelines is listed here, but she goes into more detail on each of them in an interview on the SmugMug blog and in the video above.
- Express yourself
- Stay true to that expression
- Learn what you love to see, then go capture it
- Live in (and photograph) the moments
- Gear is what supports your vision
- Post-process to refine, not fix
- Learn. Forget. Create. Repeat.
The idea of photography as a philosophy is one I can completely understand and get behind. My personal projects, as well as much of my work for paying clients over the years, has tended to follow a number of internal guidelines that are fairly similar to Karen’s photographic principles. Although, Karen’s landscape work is much better than mine will ever be. I still haven’t quite learned what I love to see when it comes to the environment – at least, I haven’t found a way to be able to capture on camera what I see in person.
Looking at Karen’s work, though, she has no problem seeing what it is about the environment that she loves and capturing it beautifully.
You know those moments in your life when you experience something profound? Something beautiful and awe-inspiring? That’s the space I’m always trying to step into. It’s in those moments that our senses become heightend. Consciousness is elevated. We’re more connected. Photography, for me, is a way of looking at the world through those eyes, because it’s there where those magical moments and unique experiences seem to unfold.
– Karen Hutton
The video follows Karen as she explores Slovenia’s beautiful natural environment. It’s her first time there, but she manages to find those awe-inspiring locations she mentions. As a location photographer, so much of what she says about exploring new locations, whether they be local or halfway across the world, and seeing things with a fresh pair of eyes resonates a lot with me, and no doubt countless other photographers, too. It’s something we all either try to do and push ourselves with our work, or it’s something that just lit up a lightbulb in your head and has given you direction for the future.
One thing that Karen mentions in the video, to help bring that vision from your mind into the camera is to really know and understand your gear. and I couldn’t agree more. And it’s not about having the latest and greatest gear. It’s just about knowing and understanding the limits of the gear you own. Pushing it and yourself to really test its limits. To the point where the camera simply becomes an extension of yourself, and you can make it see what you want to show it without stressing over settings and “rules”.
As we’ve come to expect from SmugMug, their latest film is extremely well shot, filled with fantastic footage, stunning photography and a very inspiring message. You can find out more about Karen and see more of her work on her website, and please do go and read the full interview over on the SmugMug blog.
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