Karen Russell, Part One (Annie’s Puppet Show)

Q: Know what it feels like when someone you’ve admired wants to spend time with you?
A: You feel like the giddy school girl who has just been asked out by the boy she’s had a crush on.

Q: Know what it looks like to shoot over the shoulder of someone who has helped to make you the photographer you are?
A: Check this out:

Last weekend, I traveled to Oregon to spend time with Karen Russell, my former photography teacher. I had wanted to meet her ever since I first saw her blog and signed up for her class. That desire to see her in person increased after I completed her class and grew as a photographer. Karen’s husband, Josh and my husband, Greg took the load off of us in terms of parenting to make this weekend happen.

And so I got to say “Thank you” in person. We hadn’t even talked on the phone before. We had just emailed and blogged, yet Karen was willing to open up her life and let me get to know her as a person–not just a blogger or a teacher. Annie and Karen picked me up at the airport. I was greeted with enthusiastic hugs and this drawing that Annie had made for me:

After lunch, I got the tour of Karen’s house. Annie let us take some pictures of her playing on her bed. She did a puppet show for us with the puppets she had made that day. I wanted to shoot with both Canon and Nikon. Karen shoots with Nikon, and I still struggle with my Nikon camera.

One puppet lost its tongue. Annie thought that was hilarious. (I think she was also hamming it up a bit for me since I was “new”. . .)

Annie demonstrated how to turn a doll into a mermaid using a blanket:

Karen and Annie showed me a hand clapping game (that I remember from one of my favorite images of the two of them together). The clapping and rhyming ends with a round of paper, rock, and scissors:

Karen does a way better job of getting in photos than I do, but I still tried to add a few more images that include her to her collection.

Later, I got to meet the famous Josh Downs.
We wrapped up our first day together with dinner at Karen’s favorite Thai restaurant in Jacksonville. We each took turns telling some of our story and talking about photography.


7 Responses to “Karen Russell, Part One (Annie’s Puppet Show)”

  1. Cathy K says:

    Wonderful story Rachel! I’m so happy for you! It sounds like you had a great weekend! Karen has so many reasons to be proud of her class and those that benefit from it. You are only one of those reasons and a successful one, at that! I look forward to seeing more of your journey!

  2. denean says:

    Rachel, what an amazing trip! Your photos are just beautiful. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t jealous 🙂 I am so happy you are sharing your time with Karen with us!

  3. Gail Pomare says:

    This whole Karen Russell series is so remarkable. I love that you introduced her to me, through your imagery and also that you represented her life and heart in such a stunning way photographically. I hope one day that we may also share a weekend together. I need a huge helping of you!

  4. Kelli says:

    You are so lucky!

  5. gretchen says:

    These are amazing! I love everything about them. You should be very honored! Your work shows your desire to capture the real story and I love that so much.

  6. Sharon says:

    Hi Rachel,

    How lucky you are to have spent that time with Karen! Your photos are amazing – they so remind me of Karen’s (really clean and sharp). Karen mentioned you were having problems with your D7000. As I have that camera also, I was curious as to what kind of problems. I struggle with getting sharpness although I wonder if that’s more the lens (I typically use a Tamron 24 – 70). I enjoyed your photos – they are really good!


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