Shooter Spotlight: Tracy Grant of Karuna Photo

I’ve known of Tracy for nearly 8 years now after following her blog, and have watched her photography grow from a hobby into an enterprise.  The mother of four from Michigan somehow makes time for shooting, and has branched out from artistic snapshots around the farmhouse to weddings, portraits, cuisine, volunteering and more. Scope the interview below, glimpse more work on her website KarunaPhoto, and then proceed to go fan her page on Facebook.

Name: Tracy A. Grant

Hometown: Fowlerville, Michigan. But now I live by Traverse City, Michigan.

Tell us about yourself.

Well, that is near impossible to sum up in a short amount of time, but my ‘Elevator Speech’ goes something like, “Hi, I’m Tracy Grant, owner and lead photographer for KarunaPhoto. Photography has been my passion since fourth grade. My flexibility, patience, and attention to detail are what I take pride in. I specialize in Food Photography. I am also available for retail and other commercial work.”

My personal life includes a Husband and family of four kids, a big farm house, and 5 acres of field/wilderness, 12 chickens, 6 gold fish, 1 poodle, and finally, a 45 minute commute. I am hoping to change that last bit soon.

How did you get started in photography?

Lately I have taken more time to reflect on that question. I always thought it was fourth grade, when we had to take our first aptitude test. Photographer, was one of the options, I was ‘best’ suited for. I liked the sound of that. I jumped in right away experimenting with a double exposure project for a science fair.

Now, looking back I see that both sides of my family were avid photographers. My Great Grandma was a watercolorist for a studio in the 1930’s. Both Grandpas’s had huge camera and film collections which I have been lucky to receive bits of. Grandpa Mickey was a WWII terrain photographer up in a bomber and My Uncle Henry shot Lionel Train catalogs.

One camera and lens for the rest of your life…

Oooh! That’s too hard! Especially with digital constantly changing. If money was no object, I would say Hasselblad. My favorite lens that I could spend a lifetime with is my cheap, but super reliable, Nikkor 50mm 1:8. That little lens does almost everything I need.

 How do you balance photography and being a mother of four?

I’m not sure I do. Photography is my passion, so are my kids but I know what is important in life. That is Life itself.

Not to be heavy, but death is all we can really count on for our future. Each moment should be enjoyed and full of awareness. I can be present when I am shooting, editing, playing, or doing the laundry for 6 people. I think this allows me to be a good Mom and a good photog. (You’ll have to ask my kids for confirmation.)

Whats the best thing about photography? The worst?

The worst thing is that Photography is temporary, constantly changing, very challenging, and can be so dangerous laying out your ego/inner self for all to see. This is also the best thing about photography.

What’s the most memorable photography experience you’ve had?

My most memorable would have to be an adventure to Senegal, Africa when I was 16. Photographing all the different cultures that we encountered on our trip opened my heart and my mind.

What’s your biggest achievement in your photography career?

The fact that I still do this is my biggest achievement. There are and have been so many obstacles in my path over the years. If we are talking accolades, I would say, the photo I had published in Food & Wine Magazine in 2010 and that I get to freelance for an Edible Communities Publication in the area. It’s so important to know where our food comes from and how it was cared for.

If you could shoot anything, what would it be?

As a personal project I would like to shoot NYC at night from a helicopter. I love flying. I love big cities, and lit up at night, from high above would be amazing!

What does the future hold for you?

Hopefully many more years! I see myself traveling to Tibet and maybe India. As far as paying the bills, I think I need to reinvigorate my marketing and expand my business base to further away from home.

Please share 5 of your favorite photos and tell us the story behind them.

This is the photo that brought me back some confidence in my abilities. I had been out of photography for quite a while (Child care of four toddlers). This was a workshop that I was able to attend in 2009. There was a small video light and this was with my Nikon D50 + the trusty 50mm 1:8.

This is the photo that got into Food and Wine. It is of a local hard cider producer, Tandem Ciders. (You have to try their smacintosh!) Natural light Nikon D50 and my Nikkor 17-55mm lens. I would probably process it a little differently now.

The next photo is of Epicure Catering in Leelanau, Mi. Cammie created a beautiful set. Local 45 North award winning wine, with this Leelanau berry cake they created. Yes, it was as delicious as it looks! Natural light, Nikon D300, Nikkor 17-55mm lens.

I just took this a few days ago. Every year I try volunteer at least two times. This was for United Way’s Day of Caring. Hundreds from the community come out for a big breakfast and then got to different non-profits who need help with projects. Again, natural light,Nikon D300, Nikkor 17-55mm lens.

Finally, I have to share my children. This is their ‘album cover’ look.

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