Karin Elizabeth | Fine art photography & blog
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III is the charm

Around Christmas and New Year’s Eve, I always feel evaluative and nostalgic. I am not the kind of person that can identify something and then immediately do something about it. Instead, I see something that needs to change and wait for the right time to Start Fresh. I like Mondays. I like the first of the month. I love a new year. I suppose it’s better than never trying to change at all, but it’s a narrow-minded and counter-intuitive way to do it. I set my expectations too high, almost gleefully anticipating that moment when I can Start Over, and then it falls flat because… I can’t achieve on a schedule, I can’t be proud of myself at set times. I can’t be so naive anymore as to believe that I can control my life that much.

So my resolution is to… not wait until the new year. Until January or February 1st. Or until Monday. It’s a random Tuesday, and I’m ready now.

One of the changes I would like to make is to really get this website going properly. I am still very much unsure what I want to do with it, but that’s another one of those things that has always held me back. I don’t need to know 100% what I want in order to start working on it. For today I’m just deciding to change the layout a little bit, and to start blogging.

Rosalie Watching Snow | Stocksy United | Canon EOS 5D Mark III + 24-70mm f/2.8 L

One big development this month – which is also the catalyst to me wanting to change – is that I bought the Canon EOS 5D Mark III camera. My 7D had started to crap out on me, as I like to say, and it was time for an upgrade. I’ve been a photographer for over a decade, more seriously the past 7 or 8 years, and this is my 3rd DSLR camera. And III is the charm. I never felt ready enough to buy a professional camera, I guess I felt like I needed to “be worthy” of one, first.

But you know, fuck it. I’m worthy of it because my subjects are worthy. This stunning planet. The people on it. Mother nature. My memories. And my beautiful, amazing, adventurous, appreciative, exploring daughter.

I don’t know how I will fill in this blog and this website. But let’s just see where it takes me. I will at least try and blog when I feel like it, no rules, not too much second-guessing and rereading. Let’s just do this.

Immense, intense

In my previous post, I was very open about my struggle with stagnation. But that post only scratched the surface. I now feel more ready to be completely honest about what has been going on in the past 3 years, causing me to lose so much focus.

In 2014, my uncle and grandfather both died within 6 weeks from each other. I have written about that before, but what I didn’t write about is that shortly after those two losses, I also went through a devastating miscarriage. All of this caused me to spiral into grief and subsequent depression and anxiety – it took me about a year to work through that. I struggled with fertility problems, had surgery & was diagnosed with endometriosis, and my beloved grandmother died in 2015. We needed medical assistance to achieve pregnancy in early 2016, which was both stressful yet something I was immensely grateful for – a recipe for emotional conflict. After another pregnancy loss, we finally conceived Rosalie, who was born October 28th 2016. My pregnancy wasn’t the easiest as I carried a large baby due to undiagnosed gestational diabetes, and the delivery was hard, but we made it. Two became three.

She is now almost 6 months old. I can’t believe it. Rosalie enjoys eating, riding in the car, attempting to eat her socks, chewing on her butterfly toy, playing with mommy, going on walks, and grabbing daddy’s beard.

You can follow our lives together on my personal instagram account @kaatzoetekouw! She even has her own hashtag #RosalieHannahElisa, which I made so I have quick access to just-pictures-of-her.

All of this changed me, immensely and intensely, but for the better. All that pain, all that loss and all that loneliness – because it is so, so lonely to go through all of that – brought me the love of my life. And I hope I can now use all of that to once more be an impassioned photographer. I tried to work on photos for those years, but my heart was never really in it because my heart felt empty for so long.

Now my heart is full <3

Kaat never finishes anyth…

By now you’re all thinking, “Kaat never finishes anyth…” and I have to admit that I understand why you’d think that. I do often start something and then either forget about it or just lose interest. The past couple of years, it’s been incredibly difficult for me to a) get inspired and b) find the motivation. And when I do feel like I have something to create, I always have hope that my rediscovered inspiration is longterm, or even definite. And then it never really is. As soon as I start slacking, I lose motivation: “I’m already failing at this. I failed my project’s premise / my goal! It won’t work anymore now.” 

This began when I started my business: I don’t regret it, but everything formerly fun did start to feel like work. But even after re-shifting my focus to stock and fine art, I still feel stuck about 85% of the time. 
Part of me wants to be apologetic about it. Although I hardly think this bothers you, I do feel like I’m disappointing as an artist a lot of the time. But then I have to remember that I’m just frustrated at my failure to energize myself. I know the only person truly bothered by all of this is me. I need to reconcile with none other but myself. Putting myself down isn’t the answer; accepting myself is. 
I don’t need to do things perfectly in order to be successful. I don’t do deadlines well, so why force them at this time? I’ve learned to accept that I’m an introvert, which makes a lot of areas of photography challenging, but other areas are stronger because of it – so why not celebrate that? I may give up on projects, but I always come back to try again, and again, and again – I guess in my heart I do believe it could be possible to one day be back to how I used to be and I do have more faith in myself than I thought. One day, a project or idea will stick. I will find my way. 
Until then, here’s how I’ll try and handle things from here on out: instead of giving up on a stale project altogether, I’ll just change my goals to suit what works for me at that time. This will hopefully set the tone to help me find self-discipline, but a more patient and self-aware kind of self-discipline. 
Self 2016 will be my first experiment with that new work ethic. Due to very happy circumstances I started falling behind on my weekly themes and then promptly forgot all about it. Because why? Because growing little human. Yup, I’m pregnant. 
Instead of quitting a project I was very excited about initially – and which helped me process a lot of feels – I’m deciding to continue it, but adjust it to my current needs. This means letting go of perfectionism, learning to be more flexible and most importantly to understand that there’s value in everything I do. It doesn’t matter that I produce work on a weekly basis. I am not failing if I can’t do it regularly. I always want to do more – how about I just settle for doing what I can? Because what really matters for myself as an artist, is that I continue to try to produce work in a genuine way while enjoying the process. That’s what I want to hold on to, and I think I can do that. 

Self 2016, the ole wedding dress

Well, so much for trying to catch up quickly! I haven’t spent too much time behind the computer the last couple of weeks, and I can make up some excuse to make myself feel like less of a slacker, but truth be told I just haven’t been in the mood for it. You can sort of compare it to my reading habits; sometimes I’m really into it, and can devour several books every month, and then there are times when it takes me 3 months to finish just the one. With photo editing, I have moments when I’m incredibly active and feel excited about working on new photos, and then there are those moments when I’m just not able to concentrate or not all that interested in sitting behind a computer. I at least manage to take photos; it’s the hassle of sorting through them and processing them that tends to hold me back. So that’s something to work on as I go, to try and feel excited about the entire process. Photography is more than ideas and executing them. #KnowThyself

For week 06, I took out the ole wedding dress. I hadn’t seen it since my wedding day, so I was in awe at it all over again. (What is it with wedding dresses and their ability to be so damn magical? It’s just a dress… but it’s so much more than that, argh!) I fell in love with its embroidery and that’s what I wanted to focus on for this photo.


I don’t have a lot more to say about these photos, other than I might add these two to the Jilted series and I enjoyed taking these comfort-zone photos for a few weeks. In weeks 07 and 08, which I’ll share soon, I went in a different, darker direction.

Self 2016, back to my roots

After my Banshee theme, which was the 3rd death-related theme in a row, I wanted something different for week 05. I needed it for myself, too.

During that week I had initially planned an awesome studio portrait – and at another time during this project, I will take this photo – but it didn’t feel right for that week. I do want to try and take photos that I feel are fitting and relevant to where I stand in life at that time, so that they have more personal value to me.

I found myself very drawn to plants: they are peaceful, calming and in ways even comforting to me. So that’s what I decided to do instead: a photo featuring my plants, in some way. I also felt inspired by the Pre-Raphaelites that week, and then it all came together. I chose some familiarity by editing the photos as I would have edited a lot of my self-portraits back in 2010, 2011.

KE-blog-week05-nugoed(On some computer screens, there may be some WordPress-induced pixelation.)

Staying in my comfort zone for a change was what I needed: the goal of getting a photo I felt comfortable with was at that point the most important thing. But I did learn that doing this offered a different kind of challenge… Yes, I want to evolve by trying out different things for Self 2016, but I also think it’s important to understand and accept what my strengths are without feeling like it’s “not good enough” because it’s not new enough.
I truly love these images. They are perfect because they expressed and gave me what I needed during week 05.

For theme 06 I actually wanted to stay in my comfort zone a little longer: I reminisced about the Jilted theme, using a detail of my actual wedding dress (instead of my white prom dress) for some really lovely close-ups. It’s another example of how my comfort zone yields satisfying work.
Once I got those nostalgic kinds of photos out of my system, I felt ready and inspired for a different atmosphere in the last two weeks (we’re in week 08 already!), so I’m keeping it varied.

I’ll post themes 06 and 07 in the week to come; week 08 will follow as soon as I’ve edited them, too. I’d like to be caught up with everything before week 10 starts…

Self 2016, week 04 and catching up

One thing to know about me as you follow my weekly project is that I am very chaotic, forgetful and easily distracted. Before I realize it, time will have flown by, and lo – I’m behind on editing and posting my self 2016 project. It definitely holds me back. Then there is my perfectionism: for week 04 I struggled with getting the tones and edit just right, and had to work on two computers with their own pitfalls before I finally got it just right. But about two weeks had passed since I’d taken the shot, and while I did work on subsequent themes in the meantime, I couldn’t edit them, couldn’t focus on them, until I had theme 04 juuuuuust right.


While I experience frustration with myself, and this kind of thing used to make me want to throw in the towel, this time I am determined to see it through. So what if I’m delayed with getting the results in? So what if I’m a little bit of a perfectionist at times? As long as new work is being produced, all of that ceases to really matter. I’m going to do my best, and learn from the process in the meantime.

KE-blog_theme04-bansheeSo forgetful in fact, that I had to write a reminder on my hand to take the damn shot before week’s end.

During week 02, which was about death, I had the idea to work with the banshee theme. Part of me was hesitant (which contributed to my taking until the weekend to even take the photo), because I’d already done back-to-back death-inspired photos for themes 02 and 03. A banshee would make it three in a row. But I was too drawn to it, and it was mostly the combination of The Netherlands’ very stormy, foreshadowing weather that week, and how a banshee photo would allow me to really express something, facially and directly, that made me want to do this in the end. The gusts of wind inspired me just as much as the desire to be overt in my expression.

It lead to a classic interpretation of The Banshee, save from perhaps the grey hair (hey, if Teen Wolf’s Lydia can get away with it, so can I), but I’m pretty happy with the shoot in general. It yielded a lot of great expressive shots (with perfect stormblown hair); once I’m caught up with the other themes, I’ll see if I can share a few more.

A quick watercolor update: 

In the meantime, I’ve also continued to work on my watercoloring. I ordered a lovely palette box from Winsor & Newton, with 24 pans, and so far I’m absolutely loving it. It’s starting to look used, and there’s something incredibly beautiful to me about images of used paint supplies. They’re little works of art in their own right!
Anyway, I’m posting little snippets of my finally-started-watercolor-pad on Instagram, but will be sure to share some finished works here soon as well. First, Self 2016 themes.

It’s kind of funny how this post started off as me complaining about how far behind I am… only to, at the end of the post, understand that this may be a good thing, to have SO MUCH to share that I fall behind. Amazing, really. It’s actually pretty damn fantastic to be in this position for a change.