Southern Creatives – Kara Stewart – Photographer, Writer

Kara Stewart, Photographer, Writer


This week, I am honored to have an interview with an amazing photographer, talented writer and an all around creative and talented person – Kara Stewart.

So, now … on with the questions:

When did you start photography and what drew you to it?

I have been interested in photography since I was very young. I finally convinced my parents that I was responsible enough for a ‘real’ camera and they gave me a Kodak Pocket Instamatic 110 (remember those?) for my 10th birthday. I must have a million photos of the kitchen floor, the neighbor’s roof and my dog’s ears . . . but it was a learning process and I enjoyed it.

After a few years, I didn’t focus on photography so much until I was a young adult. I was gifted a lovely Yashica 35 mm, which was probably the beginning of the resurrection, and my own children were born. Kids are just naturally photogenic.

As the kids got older, life and job interfered and I let it go again until about 2006 when I was given my first DSLR (new to me but not new). I also discovered photo software at that time, and there was no turning back! I loved both the excitement of complete creative freedom and possibilities that the combination of images and software provided, and the calming sense while working on a piece (some people knit, I use photo software). I started off using Corel’s Paint Shop Pro Photo and now use that and Adobe Photoshop CS5.

In 2007, a cousin suggested I sell my images, and that was when I began to think of it as more than a hobby.

As a photographer, how do you decide what is “photo worthy”?

I think almost anything can be photo worthy. For me, it depends on the day. Something that I may dismiss one day might turn into a great image on another, more creative day. And it is almost all in the composition – some days I do a better job at composing than others.

There are several of your photos that I refer to when I need to get myself situated in a particular time and place – Tobacco Barn and Cabin Quilt, for example. What is the feel/emotion you were trying to create when you made these particular photographs?

I took Tobacco Barn at the home of a friend here in North Carolina. There are tobacco barns just like this all over rural North Carolina from its tobacco heyday. And I grew up hearing stories from my relatives about their youth picking tobacco. Tobacco farming is an integral thread to the history of this area, so I wanted to convey that sense and also the commonality with people who are from other tobacco farming regions.

I took Cabin Quilt near Cullowhee, North Carolina, while attending a seminar with the North Carolina Center for Advancement of Teaching. My ‘real’ (full time, paying) job is teaching, and NCCAT offers fabulous seminars in the mountains and at the shore.  Cullowhee is in the Great Smoky Mountains, and again, the history of farming and mountain folk overlays all and works its way into the amazing natural beauty there. The cabin in the image reminded me of my great-grandparents’ homes up through the 1970s, and the quilt reminded me of my mother’s parents, who were farmers in western North Carolina. I always remember their bedroom with the curtains pulled slightly against the summer sun but puffing back and forth with the breeze from the open windows, the bedspread pulled fresh and tight, just begging you for an afternoon nap. So serene.

What are some things that inspire you in your creative process?

I am always inspired by nature. Without fail. I tend to focus in on the small details of things, the perfect repetitive shapes of a wasp’s nest, the astounding color when you look up the trunk of a maple tree in fall, the soft curve of the cup of a tulip. Water in nature also seems to be an inspiration, whether I am focusing on color and reflections, or on the atmosphere of a lack of color in the North Atlantic ocean.

I also have to ‘fess up and admit that I am likewise inspired by two of my favorite things – food and dogs!  A few of my favorite food images are candy corn, cupcake, and asparagus.

Dogs and I go waaay back. There have always been dogs in my life. They are beauty and unchecked love, pure joy and loyalty.  A few of my favorite dog images show the raw emotion of dogs, whether it is fun and goofy, pensive, curiosity, pleasure or longing.

One of your online galleries, Rural Life, has a distinct southern feel to it. What is your favorite photograph in that gallery and why? 

It has a distinctly southern feel to it because all of the images so far were taken in the south! Most were taken close to home in North Carolina, some in Virginia. I do need to travel more and add more variety. I think my favorite is Cabin Adirondacks.  Not only did I love the actual creation of this image – turning the image into a painting that I think works really well – but every time I see this, I imagine a family there. The father is in overhauls standing in the doorway after a long day, the mother and an older child are sitting shelling beans into a big, chipped bowl, and a younger child is on the porch floor, playing.

 Congratulations to Kara!

One of her images, Pink, was chosen as a background gallery image on! She was also chosen again as the feature artist (she is Sappony) for the 2012 American Indian Women of Proud Nations Conference with her image, Jingle Dancers Ready!

Kara’s photographs are available for you to view and purchase at her online gallery.

She would love to see you at her Zazzle store!

You can find Kara on Twitter and Facebook.

And, read her blog here.

Many thanks to Kara for doing this interview for Southern Creatives. I hope you will check out her wonderful photographs and that her art inspires you as it does me!

About melindamcguirewrites

The young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat. ------ William Faulkner, Nobel Prize Speech, Stockholm, 1950
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5 Responses to Southern Creatives – Kara Stewart – Photographer, Writer

  1. kara says:

    Thank you so much for featuring me today, Melinda! I am honored.

  2. Barbara says:

    I’ve just been over to Kara’s Zazzle store, there really are some lovely images.

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