Why am I, Kathryn Wagner, a professional food & travel photographer?

 Kathryn Wagner professional food and travel photography of the US and Caribbean

The runway in St. Barthelemy, French West Indies.

On occasion I have been asked “why travel and food photography?”

The short answer: Photographing food and travel images for businesses, brands and magazines allows me to combine three things which I am passionate about: eating, exploring and recording amazing experiences to share with others.

The longer answer: The fact that I do this professionally means that I have followed these interests and passions with a zeal to rival that of a new camera owner out on their first day shooting. I absolutely love what I do and I feel lucky to share that enjoyment with my clients and their customers. Photography is not only the way in which I have navigated the world for the past ten years through Europe, North America and the Caribbean; it is the way in which I want others to share in an experience of the world with my images. My career goals extend far beyond stellar service of clients. Getting others excited about the amazing experiences my clients offer to their customers via visual expression of their story is the career goal which I strive for most.

I feel that the following definition sums up many of my feelings toword photography:

vocation |vōˈkā sh ən| noun

a strong feeling of suitability for a particular career or occupation : she felt a strongly about the her love of animals and the veterinary vocation.

• a person’s employment or main occupation, esp. regarded as particularly worthy and requiring great dedication : her vocation as a visual artist.

• a trade or profession.

ORIGIN late Middle English : from Old French, or from Latin vocatio(n-), from vocare ‘to call.’

Lowndes Grove: Then and Now….

Photo: Historic American Buildings Survey, C.O. Greene, Photographer April 12, 1940
 (Kathryn Wagner)
Lowdenes Grove, November 2011.

“John Gibbes built a house and garden with greenhouses on The Grove before the Revolutionary War.[2] The house was probably located near Indian Hill on the Citadel campus. It was likely burned by British troops in 1779,[7] but the gardens remained. Around 1786, heirs of the Gibbes family divided the land into smaller tracts, and three of the northernmost parcels were acquired by George Abbot Hall. Since the 1791 inventory of Hall’s estate mentioned a house, it is assumed that the house was built around 1786.[3] The next owners were the Beaufain brothers of the West Indies who operated a small faming operation on the site. They sold the house, which they had named Wedderburn Lodge, to Mary Clodner Vesey. She, in turn, in 1803, sold the property to William Lowndes, who was elected to the U.S. Congress. He served in Congress until he resigned due to poor health in 1822.[3]

After several owners, a Charleston businessman, Frederick W. Wagener, acquired the house. He was the president and one of the chief promoters of the South Carolina Inter-State and West Indian Exposition, which was held in 1901–1902. The exposition was held on his 250 acres (100 ha). The Lowndes Grove house was used as the Woman’s Building[3][8][9]” Wikipedia.

Sullivan’s Island lighthouse: The Charleston Light

 (Kathryn Wagner)

A man and his dog walk along the beach bordering a tidal pool in Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina.

A few facts about the Sullivan’s island lighthouse pictured above in the background:

“Instead of having the traditional circular shape, it is three-sided, a feature meant to make it more wind resistant. The result is that it can withstand gusts up to 125 mph as demonstrated by its ability to hold up against Hurricane Hugo in 1989. It is the only lighthouse in the country to have both an elevator and siding. The light was the second brightest in the Western hemisphere with 28 million candlepower but was reduced to 1.5 million to accommodate Sullivan’s Island residents. It can still be seen 27 miles out to sea on clear nights. Originally painted white and red-orange (like that seen on Coast Guard helicopters), local residents petitioned the government to change the color to the black and white seen today.” -National Park Service

Charleston’s Gateway Walk: the Unitarian Churchyard

 (Kathryn Wagner)

A brick path winds between beds of wildflowers in Charleston’s Unitarian Universalist Churchyard, a part of the historic Gateway Walk.

As a professional travel photographer discovering hidden gems such as the Garden Club of Charleston’s Gateway Walk are a favorite part of the job. This peaceful, gorgeous meander takes one through several churchyards, and several hundred years of history in South Carolina. “While Charleston cannot boast as many oak-ringed parks as Savannah, the four-block Gateway Walk is just as beautiful, with a series of interconnected and semihidden gardens. The walk is lined with moss-laden oaks and takes you past the city’s most historically significant churches.” – 36 Hours in Charleston, The New York Times. This is the first in a series of garden images capturing this beautiful stroll. A guide to enjoying the walk firsthand is below, courtesy of The Garden Club of Charleston.

Rambling along Virginia’s Route 6

 (Kathryn Wagner)

The sun filters through an overgrown field along Virginia’s Route 6.

If there ever were a highway that held a special place in my visual heart it would be Virginia’s Route 6. Stretching along the James River from the Blue Ridge to Richmond, it was the scenic route most often taken to and fro, from college in Richmond to home in Charlottesville. I have always been fascinated by this stretch of highway, for in many ways it has remained the same as it was when the town of Columbia was a strategic outpost during the Revolutionary War. Stretching through much of the state and many historic towns in Virginia, Route 6 is a premium choice for a weekend drive.  View a map of this intriguing highway, and go for a ride!

Meet Alabaster, the Albino Alligator

 (Kathryn Wagner)

Alabaster” a seven and-a-half foot long 92 pound Albino American Alligator swims in his tank at the Blackwater Swamp Exhibit in the South Carolina Aquarium.

Did you know that alligators are a native predator species in the South Carolina Lowcountry? And that you can adopt Alabaster the Albino American Alligator?

A few more Fun Facts:  There are only two species of alligator in the world – the American alligator and the Chinese alligator American alligators have a lifespan of 35-50 years, and have been known to live up to 80 years in captivity Alligators can stay underwater for 45-60 minutes Alligators will go dormant (not a true hibernation) when the weather gets cold 80 – 100 teeth may be in the mouth of the alligator.  When teeth wear down, new teeth grow in.  An alligator may go through 2,000 – 3,000 teeth in a lifetime

Hampton Park

 (Kathryn Wagner)

Spanish moss hangs from trees lining a walkway to the bandstand in the City of Charleston’s Hampton Park.

“The park was named in honor of Confederate General Wade Hampton III who, after the Civil War, had become governor of South Carolina. The bandstand from the South Carolina Inter-State and West Indian Exposition of 1901–1902, once located in the center of the park, was saved and moved to its present location at the east edge of the park at the foot of Cleveland St.[7] In addition, the building at 30 Mary Murray Blvd., which is currently used as the city’s Parks Department offices, was retained from the exposition, where it served as a tea house.” – Wikipedia

 (Kathryn Wagner)

Above, a postcard of the Sunken Gardens, from the South Carolina Inter-state and West Indian Exposition. The Charleston Horticultural Society has a fabulous series of self guided audio tours for your next stroll around Hampton Park.

Colonial Lake

 (Kathryn Wagner)

Colonial lake is a wonderful part of Charleston’s city park system. A favorite of runners and fishermen alike, the area has long been a fixture in the Holy City:

“For many years the lake was known as the Rutledge Street Pond. It acquired the name, Colonial Lake, in 1881, in honor of the “Colonial Commons” established in 1768. Some residents still call it “The Pond.”The park around the lake was developed in 1882-87. Fountains were placed in the lake in 1973, not for decorative purposes, but to aerate the water and prevent fish kills on hot summer days.”Gala Week” used to be held in the fall of the year, with a fireworks display on the west side of the Pond, which was then an undeveloped area. Spectators filled to park and crowded onto boats in the lake.” – Charleston County Public Library site Read More

Image of the week: Sailing the Charleston Harbor

 (Kathryn Wagner)

Charleston Harbor has a long and storied history playing a key role in the start of the Civil War. The first shots of the Civil War were fired at a Federal ship entering Charleston Harbor. Home to the now recovered Confederate submarine the H.L Hunley as well as many other shipwrecks, much is concealed beneath the surface of this body of water. Today the harbor acts as a major passenger cruise and shipping port. Part of the Intercoastal Waterway, the Charleston Harbor is a gateway to the Atlantic Ocean.

Define success.

If someone gave you thirty years and said “what would you like to do with yourself? “what would you like to learn?” and “with whom would you like to learn it?”

What would you say?

Only once you have answers to these questions can you begin to embark on your own path of success. Just ask a British Columbian.

What you consider success is as unique as the professional creative service which you offer, whether you are a photographer art director or graphic designer. Willingness to work hard is also very important and this is true no matter your age. Success is key to many people’s definition of happiness, though everyone’s definition and vision of success is as individual as their name.

Defining your vision of success is key to a self sustaining, satisfying, career. Since careers are essentially a path of professional learning and exploration, you could shape your definition of success as to what you would like to learn about in your 30+ years of work. For me and my business the clearer the vision of success, the easier it has been to pursue and target the individuals who are key to making that vision a reality.