Have Some Fun –
2017 Slideshow

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Stopping By The Studio
Karen Hosking

I don’t want to photograph scenes that I have seen photographed before.  I want my photographs to show a new way of seeing something, even if, or maybe especially if, they are images of things we see every day…  

 

I had an opportunity to stop by the Salem home of photographer Karen Hosking to talk to her about her artistic journey, her photography and her history with the Marblehead Festival of Art. She’s keeps records of all the photographs she’s entered in shows over the years and told me that she first submitted photographs to the Marblehead Festival of Arts in 2008. Karen said that it took a while to get a read on what kind of work the Festival liked. She came to understand that they were looking for a purity of the craft as opposed to creative shots using filters. Since that time she’s won several awards at the Photography Exhibit and is now a perennial Festival favorite and frequent award winner.

Seaside Pizza

Seaside Pizza – photo: Karen Hosking

CM

Were you artistic as a kid, and have you always done some form of art work?

KH

No I wasn’t particularly artistic, and didn’t do any photography as a kid. In fact when I finally started doing photography in 2008 most people were using computers to process their work, so I didn’t even start with processing my photographs in a darkroom or with using film. I’m not sure if I would have gotten into photography if I had to go through all the work with film. I will say that the people who learned on film understand a whole other level of the process.

CM

How did you get involved in photography?

KH

I had a really expensive “point and shoot” camera and I didn’t know how to use it so I decided to learn. When I don’t know how to do something I either read a book or take a course and I decided to go on the Internet to find a good basic local camera course. One of the first sites I saw was for the Greater Lynn Photographic Association (GLPA). They offer a course every fall and the time to sign up for the course was right around the time I had found their site so I signed up. I get shivers when I think about how lucky the timing of this was. Taking the course got me hooked on photography and got me involved with the GLPA which changed my life.

The critique of my work at the GLPA, especially in the beginning when I didn’t have much technical knowledge, was a great help in improving how I did things.  The course in Lynn met every week for 6 weeks and there are also competitions a few times a month with feedback from judges. I also attend an interest group at the GLPA called the Print Group where we bring works in progress and get feedback in an informal setting. I’m also very lucky to have a group of friends whom I call “The Committee”. They’re not all artists, but they each have a great eye for what works. They’re not afraid to offer ideas and tell me what they think so they’re good critics. I think that you learn a lot if you ask people, “What can change in this shot?”

I taught myself photographic computer programs and have good instructional books. If I have a problem with my work I’d read a book and figure out how to fix things. I use Photoshop and am totally committed to improving myself.

My first camera was a Contax and it still works. In fact I recently gave it to my neighbor. After that a friend in Connecticut helped me to choose a Nikon SLR.

CM

Tell me a little bit about the Greater Lynn Photographic Association.

KH

When I started taking the course at the GLPA I was impressed with the level of support they offered beginners. They have over 200 active members and it’s an extremely well run organization. Many of the people I met there in the beginning were nature photographers who liked to shoot “fur and feathers” but there were also people interested in scenic photography, so I started doing scenic shots, mostly at the beach. Eventually I connected with people in the camera club who liked fine art photography, which is my first love. I found that I also like architectural photography and eventually found people who like that kind of work too. GLPA also has exhibitions frequently and a GLPA exhibition was the first I ever entered.  My friends came to it and bought photos I’d taken. That was a new experience.

Scene at Museum of Modern Art

Scene at Museum of Modern Art – Photo: Karen Hosking

 

 CM

What do you want to accomplish with your work?

KH

What I try to accomplish with my photography has changed. At first I just wanted to know how to use the camera and the software. I didn’t want to shoot photographs that were cliché or were just things that could sell. For a subject to interest me it has to be unique in some way. I get bored of the same things that I see every day so I enjoy photography when I’m traveling.

I like to shoot street scenes at night, especially in little towns and I like to shoot architecture when I’m in NYC. I particularly like the odd angles at MOMA. I’m not good at traditional street photography. I’m not brave enough to stick a camera in someone’s face, but I do like to shoot street scenes. I’d always liked black and white work and over the last year I’ve gotten into doing a lot of it but now I’m a bit tired of it so I want to get back to color. Sometimes I experiment with a new technique. I have one of my cameras modified to take infrared pictures. It was interesting to look at what things changed with infrared. It was good for outside work especially foliage and clouds and beaches.

Lately I’ve been thinking of working on some kind of portraits. I don’t like studio portraits, but I do have an idea for starting with a photograph I took of friends in New York and altering it to be something different. I also did a series of photographs of the subway system with a friend (Joe Votano) which was published by Schiffer Publishing, and Joe and I have also published an ebook on infrared images.  I would like to do more projects like those. I like exploring one topic in depth and over time.

 

Bicycle and Fence

Bicycle and Fence – photo: Karen Hosking

CM

What are your goals as an artist?

KH

First of all I don’t think of myself as an artist. I have friends who identify that way and always have. I have such respect for them but it’s still a new way of thinking for me. As far as my photography goes I’d like to continue to improve my ability to see things in new, unique ways.  I don’t want to photograph scenes that I have seen photographed before.  I want my photographs to show a new way of seeing something, even if, or maybe especially if, they are images of things we see every day.

CM

What’s the hardest part of being a photographer?

KH

The hardest part for me is overcoming the resistance to go out and shoot. I know that there are wonderful photos that I could shoot around here, even in my back yard, but I get tired or maybe too used what I see daily. I guess that’s why I like photographing what I see while I travel. Everything is new and I “see“ more.  I usually travel with three cameras; a full frame camera for low light situations, an infrared camera, and a lightweight mirrorless camera for daytime. I typically don’t use a tripod or bring one on trips.  When I travel I usually bracket for exposure so later  I can see which exposure works best for the location and each particular shot.

CM

What has photography given you?

KH

I get to be creative without having to draw, paint, sing or write. I can be in the worst mood but when I sit down at my computer to work on a photograph I can just “zoom in” and it’s completely engaging.

CM

Is there any art or artist that you think influenced you?

KH

I love the work of Hopper and of course the photography of Dorothea Lang. I wish I could do that kind of work. I have a photograph that I took at night in Nahant that has a Hopper feel to it. I entered it into the Smithsonian Photography Contest as a lark, in part because there was no entry fee. It was in the Americana category and it was one of 10 finalists. It was a night scene looking at a small illuminated storefront with a golden glow from the streetlamps. The streets were wet from a recent rain storm. It’s funny but when I went out to shoot it I was very disappointed because there was a truck parked on the street and I thought that it would detract from the photo but instead it added a whole different element that made the photograph stronger.

CM

How do people get in touch with you and see your work?

KH

You can see my work by visiting my web site http://karenhoskingphotography.com/ I don’t spend enough time keeping up the site but it will give you an idea of what I do. I’ve sold a few photographs from it. There was a man who lives in NYC who had grown up in Nahant and found my site and bought a few of my Nahant street scenes from there including the one that was in the Smithsonian show.

By Carol McLaughlin