3 questions, 3 sisters

photo of Karen Walrond by Andrea Scher, photo of Stephanie Roberts by Karen Walrond, photo of Andrea Scher by Tracey Clark.

Some of them I had worked with for many years, some I only knew from their words and images. And yet meeting my fellow Shutter Sisters in Chicago this past summer has been one of the most inspiring experiences of my life. I can’t even begin to tell you how uniquely beautiful, kind and talented these women are and how much their friendship and support mean to me. Today I want you to know a little more about them, so I asked one question to three of them. Here are their answers:

Stephanie, has traveling to Africa shift your perception of the world and changed the way you look at people? What do you see now that you might not have noticed before? 

Yes, indeed. Traveling to Africa changed me in many ways. It pushed me to be more open and trusting with new relationships. When you place yourself in a foreign country – not knowing the local language, culture and geography – it forces you to develop new relationships, to trust your instincts about people, and to be open to new experiences despite the presence of fear. I never thought I’d ride on the back of a motorcycle for 45 minutes (driven by a man I barely knew) on a dirt road… up a mountain… in the open countryside of Rwanda… with nothing but my camera in my backpack. But it was one of the most memorable moments of my time there.

The people I met in Rwanda instantly became very dear to me for several reasons. Their hearts are pure and open – sharing love in the form of kind words and warm embraces on a daily basis. Children would reach for my hand and brush the hair away from my face without hesitation. They value their relationships with each other over all material possessions – sharing love, kindness, their simple homes, and food without hesitation.  Their strong sense of purpose is rooted in faith – expressing thanks to God openly for all that they have. I look at people now with much more kindness and compassion in my heart, and I’m truly grateful to my friends in Rwanda for teaching me how to do that.

Karen, what has been or still is your biggest challenge as a photographer?

My biggest challenge always has been, and remains making my photography provocative or innovative.  At this point in my practice of photography, I feel comfortable that I can take a pretty picture — now I struggle with how to make viewers wonder — wonder how I came up with a particular angle or treatment, wonder what the backstory is behind the shot, wonder why the photograph affects them the way it does.  It’s a hard thing to try to do, since often in photography we can get comfortable with our particular style, but I think innovation and provocation is necessary in order to feel like we grow as photographers.

I keep on trying, though. :)

Andrea, what do you think is the one quality that any photographer should have?

One quality every photographer should have is a true love of beauty and awe of the world. Sometimes this is natural for me, and sometimes carrying my camera can help remind me to look at the world with these kind of eyes. Going on a photo walk can be like a walking meditation. Each step you are looking for what’s beautiful and interesting about the moment. It keeps you present, and (no pun intended) seeing through a lens of appreciation.


Today I invite you to answer those questions too in the comment section below. I have the feeling that wonderful thoughts and insights might unfold here. And if you would like to ask a specific question to one of the Shutter Sisters for a future “3 questions, 3 sisters” post, please let us know!


  1. says

    What a delightful post. I loved reading the thoughts of Stephanie, Karen and Andrea. Thank you so much for sharing.

    I travelled to Rwanda with a friend back in 2006. We stayed there for 5 weeks teaching orphans photography.
    Stephanie summed up my feelings completely. The whole time we were there we had no fear at all. We were in awe of how content these people were with so few possessions. I wrote about it in this post below.


    I would also like to comment on Andrea’s words. Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou. I feel the same way "Going on a photo walk can be like a walking meditation".


  2. says

    The One quality? I can’t imagine any photographer without a willingness to be outside the scene. Perhaps, the exception might be photography of objects or nature, but even so, once you put the camera to your eye, you are placing yourself outside of what you photograph with the intention of recreating what you what you saw, or even, what you imagine you saw while in the scene. I think this is an intuitive ability. We all intuit something in the scene, whether it is a visual or emotional, or an imaginative or concrete perception. When we step outside the scene, we have begun to actualization our vision.

  3. says

    I think curiosity is an important trait in a photographer — you want to see how the scene you are witnessing looks through the camera’s eye. I am constantly amazed at how differently my brain interprets a scene compared with my camera and I want to try to capture that moment in a specific way, whether it is a child’s expression, a bug on a flower, a sunset, etc. Maybe that is because I have not been a photographer for a long time and perhaps that feeling will go away over time and experience will tell me what to expect when I press the shutter button….but I kind of hope that doesn’t happen.

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