PHOTOGRAPHER: Karen Hutton
BASED IN: Nevada, USA
KNOWN FOR: Landscape, travel and fine art photos characterized by beautiful lighting
SHOOTS WITH: FUJIFILM X-T3 Camera, X-H1 Camera, X-T20 Camera, FUJINON XF23mmF1.4 R Lens, XF50mmF2 R WR Lens, XF80mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro Lens, XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR Lens, XF18-55mmF2.8-4.0 R LM OIS Lens, XF10-24mmF4 R OIS Lens, XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR Lens, XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS Lens, XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR Lens
FUJIFILM X-Photographer Karen Hutton has spent her life among the beauty of the American West. The awe-inspiring natural landscape that runs from high in the Sierra Nevada mountains, past Lake Tahoe, and across to the sprawling deserts of Nevada, has never failed to provide her with the inspiration she needs as a fine art, nature and travel photographer. We hear from Karen about how her trip On the Road with the X-T30 reflects her personal journey through life.
The narrative that Karen chose for this project was ‘The West’, a choice she made for a variety of reasons. “I was raised there and there are so many big stories of human spirit to tell. There is also incredible natural diversity, between mountains and desert,” says Karen, who planned a specific route to reflect the personal significance the area holds. “My work is largely autobiographical – so I wanted to see if I could manage to convey it all in a personal way in just a few photos. A big challenge!”
Karen’s trip aimed to take her from Lake Tahoe, which until recently was her home of 30 years, to her new home, Nevada, using photography to try and tie these two chapters of her life together. “I hope to capture a slice of the beauty, wonder and quirkiness of The West. It’s a legacy unto itself,” she says.
“I chose ‘my mountains’ of Tahoe as a starting point, because while I’ve photographed my entire life, living in the mountains is where I finally figured out what I wanted to say with my photography and the kind of impact I wanted to have with my work,” Karen explains. She goes on to describe the feeling of awe these mountains have stirred inside her and how this has influenced her art. “That is what makes this a ‘forever’ place for me,” she continues, “I’ve never lived anywhere that had such a huge impact on my life.”
However, her new home also plays a part in the project: “Nevada represents uncharted territory. The unknown. The challenge of finding a new way to see. Of finding beauty in unlikely places, of telling new stories. Of honing-in on exactly what matters. I sought images that were driven by that idea.”
On such a poignant journey, Karen needed a camera that she could rely on and the X-T30 checked all the boxes for her. “The X-T30 performed fabulously in the field,” she says. “It’s got most of the features of my beloved X-T3 and all of the image quality. It excelled in every situation and helped me create my vision every time.”
But it wasn’t just the technology inside the camera that impressed Karen, the addition of the new Focus Lever also had an impact. “It’s intuitive and super quick for changing the size and placement of the focus point and I think it’s a brilliant upgrade,” she says.
She also makes the case for the X-T30 being the ideal tool for those who wish to improve their photography skills.“I love the ability to set it on Auto and know you’re going to get amazing photos,” she explains. “That – and the flash. I think those two features are so inviting for entry-level photographers who want a fabulous camera that’s easy to use out of the box, but that they won’t grow out of anytime soon.”
Karen was attracted to fine art photography at a young age, seduced by the way the photographic style captures a viewer’s imagination. “I’ve always loved stories and storytelling; fine art photography always seemed like the purest form of that,” she explains, “I love how it makes you stop and think. Dwell in the artist’s world for a moment. See the world in a new way through their eyes. It’s intrigued me like no other art form since the moment I laid eyes on it. It’s always felt so powerful, so visceral, in-the-moment and essentialist.”
It is this effect that drives Karen to keep shooting, aiming to inject joy and love into her work in order to pass that on to her audience and release it to the world “I challenge myself to find it, even in things that don’t seem obvious,” she says, going on to describe how such a responsibility in our increasingly visual world is something she does not take lightly.
“Imagery is so powerful, so beyond words in its impact. I believe a single image can change a person’s life and outlook for ever. In this ever-accelerating stream of images everywhere we look, when you suddenly see an image that is pure, beautiful and bears a message of ‘remember beauty’ in the middle of the cacophony – it stops you in your tracks. It speaks a different language, one infused with awe. And it helps you breathe a little better, feel calmer, and feel better in some way,” says Karen.
“I feel it’s part of my responsibility as a professional photographer to put out images like that. What’s more, I feel it’s important to share with others how to do that for themselves. The process of creating images like that is not only empowering – it’s healing to mind, body, and soul. We need that now more than ever.”
Karen references her father as a huge inspiration and her first teacher of ‘big concepts,’ and wants to continue spreading his message through her work. “My dad was a quiet, highly intelligent man and a huge believer in ‘knowledge is power… share what you know, however you do that, because you can’t take it with you.’ He made me want to leave the world better than I found it, no matter how small or large the ways,” she recalls.
“I hope my legacy is one of inspiration, joy and wonder in life – and in photography,” reveals Karen. “I hope that through my images and teaching, more people find their photographic voice and get out there to make photos that uplift others. That would be the best ‘pass it on’ game ever! That would be something to see!”
Karen Hutton is a compensated FUJIFILM X-Photographer.
To see more of Karen’s work, visit her website.