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August 2018

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My Online Photography Workshop

This is how I learned to edit my photos

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My eyes welled up when I read this. I am so sad for all the people that won't get to take the Hometown Workshop with you, but I am so, so very blessed, and relieved, that I got to take it before you were overwhelmed. YOU, not the workshop, changed my life. I have friends I never would have had, and memories too! Oh, boy, and the pictures! I actually don't mind getting my picture taken now. But it's no good if it is so hard on you.
Your vacuum analogy is perfect.


Aww man Karen...just when I was starting to get over missing you guys. You truly made that workshop a magical experience, and I have no doubt that God was working through you every day of that weekend, and you've truly changed the way I look at things, both in life AND in exposure. :) Hope your life is slowly getting back to normal! Miss you tons!


I smiled through my tears as I read this very beautiful post. I am so grateful that you took the time to take pictures of all the stuff piled up because I loved seeing it all--our mailboxes, the glass jar of toiletries, all our pillows, the dishes we ate off of, the wiffle balls we used for crazy ball, the blue beach chairs we sat in for hours... I printed the entire post & stuck it in my Photographers Workshop binder so I would never forget it. And the beautiful insight on training our eyes to see is such a wonderful bonus. What I took away from last weekend was so much more than photography skills, and I will be forever grateful that I was able to be there. I hope you're finally starting to feel better. Love you!

Sara M

Karen, you taught us all this message at your workshop. You made us all better people. Yes, I learned a lot more about photography but what I learned about life was priceless. Really, you are amazing and do not ever forget it!!

And really how bad can "The Whooping Cough" be. :)

Miss you and the whole crew like crazy!! Wish I lived closer so I could help you unpack while you watched Netflix in your bed.
At least you don't move that out of the house for the workshop!

Rachelle S

As a recipient of the workshop, I truly thank you for all the work, time and effort you (and your family, Hi Diane!)put into it. Don't stress, take it one day at a time, and remember to play "vet's office" every now and then :)

Colleen S

Maybe you need to get tucked in and stay in bed till you are better. You have made a huge difference in so many of our lives and our photography skills. I am so glad that I got an opportunity to learn from you. You will always have a special place in my heart.

Kathy R in NC

Beautiful post, Karen! I love your way with words… As someone who had the distinct privilege of attending one of your last workshops, I'd like to tell you what I see:

I see someone who despite feeling like crapola, poured her heart and soul into making the HTW an extraordinary experience for everyone attending.

I see someone who made this attendee feel like she was worthy of being there.

I see someone who's heart overflows with love and kindness.

I see someone who I wish for one moment could see what others see in her.

I loved seeing all the things that were at the HTW. The memories will be with me for a lifetime. Thank you for that...

pam b

Thanks again Karen, for an unforgettable experience. You made sure we were all well taken care of, now take care of you.


Simply lovely!!!!


I'm going to make it a point to see with new eyes. Thank you so much.

Mel Nunn

I am not religious at all. I have never had the opportunity to learn about God. But I do know that we are never dealt a hand that we are not strong enough for. That our lives are as buy or simple as we make them. That life is so beautiful even when it's crappy. And being sick means you have overdone "life" a bit and hat you need to stop being so hard on yourself sometimes.


So very thankful for you and your family! It was a wonderful experience I will cherish forever! Get well soon!


I would have loved to been able to be at one of your workshops and it is a testament to your personal values and belief that you wanted to make your participants have a wonderful personal workshop and not just learn about photography. It is no wonder you are exhausted just think moving a couple of times ina short space of time it's totally exhausting and emotional which is what you have technically done by moving furniture and belongings a couple of times to get stuff in and out of the house. The best thing about all of this from the comments above is that every single person appreciated the length you went to, to make their experience a memorable one. Have a big sleep , a shower and some food and you'll be feeling better in no time. In saying that it's sort of like big events are looked forward to a lot and while you are experiencing them it's great and when they are over it's almost nothin like being on a high and then hitting a low. Enjoy a slower week and take care. regards Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia

mandy friend

Love this Karen. <3




Karen I know we are all very sad that you have completed your last hometown workshop but I fully support your decision. I can only imagine the stress it puts on you and your family and sometimes we have to make that unpopular decision because in our gut we know it is right. I admire your courage to do this xx


Karen Oh Karen,

You will not believe how much I needed to read this today. I was certainly in a very similar place about fifteen minutes ago, prior to reading this post. Thank you for reminding me to do just what God asks me to do.


Oh gosh I love and adore and miss you...thanks for hanging yourself all out there as usual on this post. And just wondering if you need more honey at your house. We just harvested and it's beautiful and tasty and ah-naturale!

Maria Glazener

I sit here and smile,cry,laugh and reminisce over that weekend. What an incredible life changing event. I am so blessed to have been a part of the Hometown Workshop. Those women truly changed my life and Karen, I do so hope you know how absolutely wonderful you are and how much of a positive impact you have on so many women. Thank you for the memories!

Sue Crinnion

This is one to read over and over and over again. It really speaks to the person you are that in the midst of teaching and catching up from these last few exhaustive weeks, you had the inspiration and drive to write something this beautiful. I am so glad I got to know you.


Perfect words, perfect thoughts, and so much to dwell upon......the beauty of it all.....we are ALL imperfect, vulnerable and susceptible to the world around us....and when we put it all into becomes a beautiful photo.....and you have crafted it all so wonderfully. Lucky lucky participants and lucky you to see it so clearly. A beautiful post that shows how real you are. I hope you can refresh, and get rested...and fill your body with goodness. Thanks for all the food for thought. Reminds me of the cracks in pottery...without the cracks the light cannot shine through!

Diane W.

Seeing all of those things brought back such wonderful memories. It's evident the effect you have on people - hence your word... INSPIRE! Thank you so much for all you do.


Honestly have a way with words...rock on girl!!


Best. Post. Ever. Thank you for opening my eyes (through tears) this morning.


Thank you so much for this post. I read your blog all the time and love every post I read, but this one... it was meant for me to read it this morning. Thank you. :)


wow, God was using you in that post to get to me...thank you <3


I have never commented before, but this is exactly what I needed to hear right now. Thank you.


Karen -- Keep spreading your love and God's love! It makes a difference in so many people's lives. Thank you!

Karen wonder you are exhausted. I know your are a perfectionist....but surely there must be a way to continue the workshops without nearly killing you. ... Had whooping cough last summer, such an interesting experience😉


My favorite Bible verse seen through new eyes.


Wiping away tears. I miss you and everyone else so so much. You have an amazing talent and gift, not just with photography, but with words as well. You have taught me so much about life, being a mom and a good wife. You are such an inspiration to me! (I too fill myself with doubt at times. And my sarcastic mouth can often be taken the wrong way and then I hurt people.) You give me such great perspective. I could ramble forever, but instead I might just go cry in the bathroom for awhile. Hope your feeling better by now. And thanks again for the most amazing experience ever!

Lisa Gibson

What a beautiful mess! A mess of your hard work, your creativity, and your seemingly endless ability to give of yourself. Those who got to experience your Hometown Workshop are, without a doubt, like you, changed for the better and for life. And, like I said in my email in the August, there are people who you have never met that are proud to call you "my friend Karen". Have a glorious day!

Lisa Adair

You poured your heart into this post, and it's beautiful! I don't know about anyone else, but it made me stop and listen to what you were saying, not just read it, but listen.

I have to say, I was saddened to read this was probably your last workshop! Because I fully intended to do what I needed to do to attend next year. :( I understand how it can be a lot to take care of, but maybe after you rest..... and then rest some more, maybe? I could sleep in a sleeping bag and not have anything to sit on, and no need to decorate for me! Really.

Hope your feeling better!


Absolutely fabulous reminder!! I am alot like YOU and I need to REFOCUS a lot!!!! What lucky attendees that got to learn at your Hometown workshop... I loved this post!!! Thanks for always inspiring!!!

Deanna Misner

Karen, I can't tell you enough how much I loved reading this. I needed it. Thank you for sharing your heart, for your bravery in sharing your more vulnerable moments, and for keeping it all in perspective. In SOAGL your teach us to to scan the whole frame to train our eye to see the whole picture within it. I love how this blog post took that lesson and put it into practice in real life. You've reminded me to (try to) see the whole picture, the whole person, their whole heart, whatever is noble, kind, pure, good, to see the person or the situation as the Lord sees them. God views us through the filter of His Son and His death on the cross. So He doesn't see our sin, but who we are through Christ. And what He sees is a redeemed child of God. Thank you for reminding me of this. Thank you for today's post!


Oh, Karen. Your timely post is surely a gift to us from God.

I've been in a funk. I'm taking Shimelle's LSNED (Learn Something New Every Day) class. It's a September class, and last year I was ALL IN. This year, I have forced myself to make write in a notebook every day. VERY half-hearted effort, to be honest. Yesterday I wrote; Feeling unhappy - I just want to cry. Unhappy that I'm unhappy. Upset that I'm upset.

Today I read the day's prompt, which was an exercise in "Happiness is...", and I'm thinking, yeah right. Then I come to your post, and after shedding tears, I can only believe that God has His hand in helping me clear my eyes, and find His blessings. Yes! God is good...all the time.

Thank YOU, Karen!


I hope you are getting the much needed rest you need. This was a great post. I love that you are always teaching yourself and others about everything and anything related to faith, family, ourselves, and photography. The mess will get cleaned up eventually. So you want feel bad, I haven't cleaned my bedroom in a long, long, time. I am embarrassed to say how long just it has been a very long time. I will get to it eventually but I am not going to beat myself up, the rest of the house looks good! Big hugs to you and lots of love too, Cindy

Nicky from Okotoks

Life is good - always good to have reminders of that to remember all of our wonderful blessings which can so easily be overlooked!!!
You are a truly amazing - special friend.
Miss You

Erin in IA

Great post, very insightful and so much truth about looking at things in a different light. Once you get in the habit of looking at things from a certain perspective it is easy to continue to keep doing it that way. Hopefully by training ourselves to take a different look, that will become our natural insight instead of focusing on the negatives.
I am so disappointed that you will not be having any more hometown workshops, as I have been thinking about them a lot lately. But I totally understand the added stress and work that goes into it.

Andrea :)

Thank you for your honesty, your kindness, your beautiful heart. You have such a way wonderful way with words. SO many times during the weekend, I tucked your words into my heart... you have helped me become a better photographer but more importantly, a better wife and mom.

I love seeing all your things from the workshop... they bring back lovely memories. I hope that you are looking after yourself and feeling better soon. Much love!


A tender hearted kick in the pants...

Karen, I do understand that you got overwhelmed after this last workshop. You gave it your all. From the comments I am seeing, you definitely have a talent that you enjoy sharing and the gals LOVE, CHERISH and VALUE to the depths of their hearys what you offer. WHAT IF... you made it work better for you and could still have the workshops? It sounds like the major challenge is taking all the furniture out of the rental, storing it and moving all the furniture from your home over there. Whew! THAT is an amazing amount of work. You are right, it is WAY too much work!

Why don't you simply have the workshop in your home? Or, accept the rental "As Is"? Thus NO moving! It looks like most of the pictures are at various places outside. Your family could possibly live at the rental, or better yet, stay with friends or family.... especially if you had your workshops in the summer when you would not have to worry about getting the kids to and from school. If your students normally sleep at the rental... could they bring aerobeds and sleep on the floor at your place or pay their way (sharing a room?) at a motel close by? With your success in teaching and students that want what you offer... isn't the question, "What can I to do to make it work for me and my family?" and not... that this was the last Hometown Workshop I was ever going to teach. List the issues... and figure out the solutions. You need a new way of doing the business of a workshop. You said another issue was the amount of money you put into it. So, raise the price if you need to. Maybe there is a gal out there who could come a couple days early to assist you in setting up in exchange for a discounted class rate.

Consider possibilities... you CAN make this workshop work for you, the students and your family. Reread number 4 at the beginning of your blog. Now, how many times in life can we have really great experiences that change our lives in such a positive way? And don't forget what Sara M. said, "You made us all better people. Yes, I learned a lot more about photography but what I learned about life was priceless."

God gave you a Special Talent to teach and share what you know. I know you will figure out a way to make it work.

Amy N.

Oh Karen Russell! Thank you for this blog post! God's timing is truly amazing and I'm thankful He led you to share it with all of us because I needed it! Thank you doesn't seem fitting enough to say when I think about how you, the Hometown Workshop and those other women changed me for good. One of my favorite songs from Wicked says:

I've heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you...
Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood
Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good
It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made from what I learned from you
You'll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend...
Like a ship blown from its mooring
By a wind off the sea
Like a seed dropped by a skybird
In a distant world
Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
Because I knew you
I have been changed for good
And just to clear the air
I ask forgiveness
For the things I've done you blame me for
But then, I guess we know
There's blame to share
And none of it seems to matter anymore
Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood
Like a ship blown from its mooring
By a wind off the sea
Like a seed dropped by a bird in the wood
Who can say if I've been
Changed for the better?
I do believe I have been
Changed for the better
And because I knew you...
Because I knew you...
Because I knew you...
I have been changed for good...

We love you, Karen! Miss you much!

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