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I’m Karen! I’m a professional photographer (and frustrated writer!), based on the Black Isle in the Highlands of Scotland, where I live with my husband Mark and our two guinea pigs! I pay my half of the mortgage through wedding photography, family photoshoots, landscape photography workshops and commercial photography. But… I also love to write!
Emerging blog themes
I started blogging in 2012 (or therabouts) and I’m pretty sure my mum was my only reader until I joined WordPress! After that, my audience started to grow as I wrote about my adventures in Scotland’s outdoors with a camera in hand. That was all fine and good, but I came to realise that my writing was a bit one-dimensional. Things took off when I started to work different themes in to my writing, such as mental health and well-being.
My big break came along when BBC Countryfile got in touch after having read my Fife Coastal Path blog here on WordPress. In 2014, I walked the 117-mile Fife Coastal Path and raised over £500 for Cancer Research UK. After reading my blog, BBC Countryfile featured me on their primetime TV show, which involved an incredible day of filming which culminated in a mind-blowing trip to the top of the iconic Forth Bridge.
My whole world was turned upside down in 2017 when, in the same month, my dad was diagnosed with a brain tumour and I was made redundant from my previous career as a project manager. I became self-employed and, as my photography business started to grow, my dad slowly faded away. He died in the summer of 2018, decades before his time.
Walkhighlands guest column (and an exciting tweet!)
Keeping my blog up-to-date during that tumultuous time was pretty much at the bottom of my list of priorities. However, I managed to keep writing. I was approached by Walkhighlands (THE website for walking and hiking in Scotland) and became one of their paid columnists, writing alongside the likes of Cameron McNeish. It was awesome! Getting paid to write a thousand or so words every month was a nice wee sideline. My readership expanded massively and I got a major confidence boost when Iain Rankin (one of Scotland’s most successful writers) tweeted my first Walkhighlands article.
Sadly all good things come to an end and Walkhighlands terminated all their writing contracts in 2019 due to a change in financial circumstances. In all honesty though, it was a bit of a relief. I was so busy with my photography business that I simply didn’t have the time to go out and capture great landscape images (to accompany my articles) anymore.
That said, I haven’t stopped writing… although I have gone through a shamefully long hiatus on this WordPress blog. I didn’t post anything for two years (major facepalm…). It creates the worst possible impression for anyone landing on this site! It looks like I’ve either disappeared off the face of the earth or gone out of business. Well, thankfully I haven’t!
Writing my book
What have I been doing with my time? Mostly I’ve been up to eyes establishing myself as a wedding and family photographer. However, after a lot of hard graft, I feel that I’ve finally reached a plateau. Also, a few years on from my dad’s death, I finally have a bit more headspace again. The future looks brighter than it did for quite some time.
The best thing about writing for Walkhighlands for a year was that I really discovered who I am as a writer. My guest column forced me to write during the darkest time of my life. I’ve always felt that I’ve had a book inside of me but, until my dad became ill, I didn’t know what it was. Well, I do now. I’m writing about my beautiful relationship with my dad and the Scottish landscapes which have formed the backdrop to my life.
A new direction for my blog
So, where do I go with this blog? Like I say, a dormant blog just looks awful and I had to decide whether to keep it going or scrap the whole thing. I’ve decided to keep it going! Realistically, I’m not going to have time to write 1000 word posts on here (or follow blogging etiquette by being a great reader to my fellow writers). Instead, I’m going to post excerpts from my book as I write it and also share with you a really special project that I started in 2020.
It’s my ‘Before and After’ project. My dad’s untimely death ‘split’ my life in two. I can never go back to the carefree days when my world was untouched by Primary CNS Lymphoma. I’m not in a place where I can fully embrace a future without my dad (and I probably never will be). So, I’m building a bridge between the past and that future. In my spare time, I’m re-visiting old childhood haunts with my wee touring caravan, and trying to re-create precious old family photographs. I’m looking forward to sharing these images with you, and the stories behind them.
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