Saturday, December 10, 2011

My Happy Place | Halifax, NS, Breast Cancer Survivor

My day wasn't going so well.  I needed to mentally escape.  I wiped the tears away and laid my head in my hands.  "Go to your happy place, go to your happy place," I said to myself.

I instantly went to that day on the beach.  We were spontaneous, which is so not like either of us.  I was in the midst of radiation, and with the end of treatment in sight I was in good spirits.  I changed out of my hospital gown and into my skirt.  It was a gorgeous spring day that called for flip flops.  We left the hospital, hopped into the car, and decided to just do it - let's hit the beach.  Because we can.  

We took off our shoes and walked hand in hand.  There were very few people around and we felt like we had the beach all to ourselves.  We talked about how lucky we were.  Lucky to have found each other, lucky to be getting through treatment, lucky to have this day.  We took our time and enjoyed each others company.  We stopped and took pictures to help us remember, and I'm so glad we did.

My heart remembers the peace, the joy, the contentment.  

This is my happy place.

email:  karenk{at}

Monday, December 5, 2011


I've always known that I was lucky, that I have a great Mom, that she's strong and funny, that she could do anything, that she would do anything.

But until my diagnosis I didn't really get it, I didn't see the whole picture.  It's as though my diagnosis opened my eyes and turned the lights on.

Now I see this incredible woman who can get through anything... and will do it with a smile, a joke, and love.  It makes me sad that I didn't fully get it til now, that I wasn't always the easiest person to live with, that I took her for granted.

But I'm so glad that I get to tell her now!  

I love you, Mom.  Happy Birthday!  And thanks for being you... and for putting up with me.  I'm sorry for the teen years and, sadly, for the ones that followed.  Thanks for the love and support you give every single day.  Thanks for the encouragement.  Thanks for being proof that we can get through it and be thankful.  

I'm thankful for you.


email:  karenk{at}

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Mom's Chili | Halifax, NS

Since Jason likes my chili, I've made it a few times - and it is a hit!  Chili is chili, I'm sure every recipe is pretty similar but since we really like Mom's chili recipe, I thought I'd share...


2 Cups chopped onions
3/4 Cup green pepper
2 lbs ground beef
1 - 28 oz can red kidney beans (I usually use two of the smaller cans, rinsed)
2 - 19 oz can tomatoes (we like the Italian stewed tomatoes, sometimes I throw in an extra can just for fun)
1 small can tomato paste
3 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp each:  garlic powder, marjoram, oregano, cumin, red cayenne powder (I don't measure any of the spices, I just shake til I think it's good)

Brown onions, peppers, and beef (pour off excess fat).  While I'm doing that on the stove, I throw everything else into the slow cooker.  Add onions, peppers, and beef to the slow cooker once they're cooked and let it all simmer for four hours (good luck with that - we usually start testing it after an hour).


email:  karenk{at}

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I Know He Loves Me | Halifax, NS, Breast Cancer Survivor

If there were ever any doubt about his love for me, it was put to rest when I was sick.  He held me when I was scared, he checked my wounds, he soothed my soul.  Somewhere in the middle of my cancer journey I realized it.  

He really does love me.

He tells me so every day.  Every single day.  He tells me.  Then he shows me.  It's in the little things he does and the little things he says.  It's in him being himself.  He gets goofy with me.  He plays.  He makes faces.  He makes me laugh.  Every day.  And I know... he is completely himself, completely trusting, completely here with me.  One hundred per cent.

He really does love me.


email:  karenk{at}

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Life on the Hill | Sydney, NS

My great uncle, John, passed away last week.  He was the last surviving member of his family and his passing marks the end of an era for our family.  You see, they were a family of five boys who spent their lives living in spitting distance from one another.  Can you imagine spending ninety years with your brother living next door, and your other brother living next door to him, and your other brother living next door to him, and your other brother living across the street?

The brothers had two sisters, Alice and Ellen, who both passed away before they were adults.  My grandfather's mother must have been a strong, strong woman - she lost her two girls and her husband and she continued on and raised her five boys.

The boys all built homes and families of their own on Kyte's Hill.  I think now of their lives, their stories, their memories, what life must have been like for them.  We have their photos and memories of the stories we've heard, but I wish we had more.  More time, more memories, more moments to take it all in and remember it.

Life will never be the same on the hill. 

Hug the ones you're with, capture your love with a photo, write down your stories - write down their stories.



email:  karenk{at}

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I Let the Cat Out of the Bag | Halifax, NS

I don't cook.    Jason moved in a year and a half ago and he does most of the cooking.  Most?  All.  When it's my turn to cook, we go out for dinner.

Awhile ago, Jason starting talking about chili.  Meh, I can make chili.  I mean, I have made chili... once.  You want it, I'll make it for you.  One cold Saturday evening, I threw everything into the slowcooker and made us some fantastic chili.  It was so good, I made it a couple of weeks later, too.

Jason gave it a ten out of ten!

I was feeling domestic tonight and made an old family favourite - Carole's Chicken.  This one only scored a 7.5.  :-(  Maybe scoring my cooking wasn't such a good idea after all.

But, crap - now Jason knows I can cook.  Well, he knows I can cook chili and chicken.  I didn't think this through very well...  I'm going to have to hide my cookbook!


email:  karenk{at}

Monday, October 17, 2011

Dear Tamoxifen... | Halifax, NS, Breast Cancer Survivor

We've been seeing each other for a little over four months now.  Once a day, every day, just before bed.  I was hopeful we'd have a good relationship, nice and easy.  But now we've gone over the line and turned a corner.  Our casual relationship has turned into a love/hate relationship.

There have been changes since we've started seeing each other.  They were subtle, not all at once.  There are the hot flashes.  Luckily, they have been few and far between.  I don't sleep well, but then I didn't sleep well before you came along - thank God (and my doctor) for little blue pills that help with that.  I'm still tired - is that you?  I don't know any more.

Then there are the mood swings.  They're no picnic - for me or for Jason; luckily, he gives me the space I need and is there to pick me up when I'm ready for it.

I was warned about your side effects.  I was hopeful, though.  And I'm still optimistic that this is it, that you won't become burdensome.  Time will tell.

On the upside, you reduce my risk of recurrence by up to 50%.  You win.

email:  karenk{at}

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dear Blog... | Halifax, NS

I'm sorry I've neglected you.  I'll be back soon, I promise.


email:  karenk{at}

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I Picture Hope - Giving Back | Halifax, NS, Breast Cancer Photographer

Getting a breast cancer diagnosis is such a scary time with so many thoughts, fears, and emotions.   I don't think you can imagine it unless you've been through it.  At least I couldn't imagine it til I heard the words myself.  Fear and denial are big ones, you've got to go through them before you get to strength, courage, and hope.

While I was going through the early days, I dealt with fear a lot.  Fear of the unknown.  Fear of surgery.  Fear of treatments.  Fear of changes I'd go through.  Before my surgery, the one thing I wanted was a photoshoot.  I felt it was important because I didn't know what was to come... surgery, chemo, radiation, who knows what else.  And I wanted to remember what I was like in that moment, full of fear and on the cusp of gathering my courage for what was to come.

And now, here I am ten months later.  I'm here to tell you that you can have strength, you can have courage, and you can have hope.  And I'd like to help you see that.  If you're going through treatments or are, like me, a survivor I'd like the chance to give you the photoshoot I so desperately wanted.  To remind you of who you are right now. 

My friend Camille Denae has gathered up photographers around the world, photographers ready to help remind those going through breast cancer treatments or those who have survived that there is hope.  I Picture Hope is here for you.  If you're in Halifax or the surrounding areas going through treatments (or have finished treatments) and would like to talk about a photoshoot, drop me a line, let's talk.  If you're visiting from away, check out the I Picture Hope facebook page and find a photographer in your neck of the woods.


email:  karenk{at}

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Cancer Sucks | Halifax, NS, Breast Cancer Survivor

As I was getting ready for work a few days ago, my mind flashed back to the date of diagnosis.  My heart raced and my eyes watered.  Why?  Why am I thinking about that today?  Ah, it was the 22nd... the monthiversary of my diagnosis.  It's been nine months, surely I won't think about it on the 22nd of each and every month.  Good God, enough is enough.

As I realized why I was thinking about my diagnosis, my thoughts turned to my Mom.  She's at the stage I was in February - her surgery is done, she's healing, and is waiting to find out what treatments she's going to need.  Waiting.  Waiting.  Waiting.  Waiting sucks, too, by the way.  But Mom handles it with courage and grace - and big heaping of "let's get 'er done" attitude.

I feel as though I were a puddle of mush during my cancer journey and I am in awe of my mother and the way she deals with hers.  Where it seemed like days before I even left the house after my surgery, she was raring to go.  It's true we each handle diagnosis and treatment our own way, no one can dictate how we should think or feel, or what we should do.  But if you're going through what Mom and I had to go through, I wish you strength.  I wish you courage.  I wish you hope.  And I wish you a big ol' heaping of "just get 'er done" attitude.  It's a good thing.

email:  karenk{at}

Thursday, September 22, 2011

United Way | Halifax, NS

The annual United Way campaign is in full force at my day job.  We spent our lunchtime yesterday playing "Minute to Win It."  
Teams had to perform a task in under 60 seconds.

They had to get all the balls from one bottle to the other:

They had to stack cups, then unstack them:

They had to stack three golf balls - I don't think anyone got this one!

Just some of the fun and games we had today to promote the United Way campaign - remember, you only have another couple of days to pledge.

email:  karenk{at}

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Talking Shop | Halifax, NS, Photographer

I spend a lot of time blogstalking.  Blogstalking - regularly reading someone's blog - is common among photographers.  There's a number of fabulous photogs out there who are willing to share their knowledge, whether it be about equipment, posing, or how to run your business.  In the beginning, I visited their blogs regularly to gain some knowledge and inspiration, but now I visit the blogs to see how they are.  They've become friends and mentors and I love the glimpses into their lives.

I sometimes share stories from the blogs with Jason.  He humours me, listens, and then we talk about something else.  Does he pay attention?  No, it's not usually something that interests him so he lets me talk then we move on.  Or so I thought...

A few weeks ago, I was blah blah blah'ing about something I wanted to try out.  He questioned me about it and I said, "well that's what Justin and Mary do!  Oh wait, you don't know who Justin and Mary are."  He looked me in the eye and defiantly said, "Yes I do -"  

He does pay attention.  I didn't know.

Thus began a change in our conversations.  He has an interest that I didn't know was there.  Now he starts the conversations, he has input into what I do, he reads the blogs.  We bandy about names during dinner conversations as though we're talking about people we see every day:  "Justin and Mary did this..." or "Jasmine did that..."

Not only is it much more fun to talk shop now, it's more interesting.  And who knew, the boy actually has some good ideas.  Now, we'll see if I can teach him to shoot, too...


email:  karenk{at}

Friday, September 16, 2011

I Will Eat Cake | Dartmouth, NS, Birthday Photography

It's not a secret... I like cake.  Who doesn't?  That's rhetorical, because it's cake and everyone loves it.  Trust me.  I believe it is my duty as your photographer to try your cake.  So I can gush about it and blog about how good it was.  Really.    

The one thing I promise is that I won't look like this when I'm done...

This cake, by the way, was one of the best I've had in a long time.  It was made with love by a family friend, but little Owen didn't really care about that, he was all over it, shared it with his girlfriends and then went into a little cake coma.

I saved my cake coma for after I left the party.  :-)

email:  karenk{at}

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Elton John | Sydney, NS

There he was, up on stage, just him and his piano.  He was so far away, but it was Elton - it didn’t matter how little he appeared, I was thrilled to be there.
He played to a packed house of 6,600; a smaller venue for him, I’m sure.  The crowd at Centre 200 was typically Canadian – polite and appreciative.  Don’t get me wrong, there were a lot of standing ovations and loud applause, but nothing too overt.  Elton was also appreciative – standing between songs and bowing to the different sections of the arena.
He was on stage for over two and half hours.  Just him and his piano.   He doesn’t just play his piano, he plays!!!!!!!  There were lots of long musical intros to songs where we saw his hands dance across the keys on the big screen.  On and on and on – my hands get tired after a couple of hours holding my camera, I can’t imagine his after a night on stage.
And the songs.  He played them all – some new, lots of oldies, and some I hadn’t heard before.   Rocket Man, Daniel, Candle in the Wind, Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me, Bennie and the Jets, Circle of Life, they were all in there.
While there was lots of singing and piano playing, there wasn’t a lot of conversation with the audience.   I expected more witty banter, but while he introduced a few songs with stories, some just a line or two, mostly he sang and played. 
As he introduced The Ballad of the Boy in Red Shoes, he spoke of the AIDS epidemic.  He spoke of his friend, Ryan White, who contracted the disease in the early 1980s through a blood transfusion.  He spoke of the US government’s lack of involvement in the disease up to that point.  “Fuck ‘em,” he said.   He reminded the audience of the local AIDS organization, AIDS Coalition of Cape Breton, and encouraged us to support it.
As he neared the end of the show, Elton talked about forgiveness and being kind to one another, of living together in peace.   Then he closed the show with Circle of Life and Can You Feel the Love Tonight?  We sure could feel the love, Elton – it was fantastic, I hope you could feel it from the audience, we loved it.

email:  karenk{at}

Monday, September 5, 2011

Thankful for... My Wedding Team | Halifax, NS, Wedding Photographer

None of us, including me, ever do great things. 
But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.
Mother Teresa

I put together a team for Kathleen and Brett's wedding.  My team, just in case.  I was all set to shoot the wedding, but then I got my diagnosis and everything that was clear became unclear.  What if I have chemo, what if I'm sick, what if, what if, what if...  So we prepared.  With full approval of my wonderful bride and groom, I planned.

My friend, Mary Kelly, was already set to shoot the wedding with me.  Luckily, another friend, Cassie MacGregor, jumped on board and we were good to go.  I planned for if I were sick or if I were healthy, there was nothing left to chance.  Happily, chemo was not a necessity and Mary, Cassie, and I all shot Kathleen and Brett's wedding together.

I'm thankful for the strengths we each brought to the wedding, for our teamwork, and for having friends who also happen to be fab photogs, too.  

 ...together we can do something wonderful.

email: karenk{at}

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

We breathed a collective sigh... | Sydney, NS, Breast Cancer Treatment

We paced, the three of us.  We had been sitting and waiting for hours and we could sit no longer.  Mom was in surgery and Dad, Lori, and I waited.  We had Jason and Gary (Lori's husband) waiting with us, but we finally left them in the waiting area and the three of us paced, waiting for the doctor.

Mom was diagnosed a month ago.  Just as I was getting the all clear from my oncologist, she was getting the news that she once again had breast cancer.   She and I sat last night and discussed our surgeries, mine from six months ago and hers from 24 years ago, about how well we got through them, and about how well she would get through this one. 

Deep inside, though, we all harboured our fears.  And today we paced.  Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the doctor appeared to tell us everything went just as planned, she was waking up, was in just a little pain, but she was doing great.  And there was a collective sigh of relief, some tears, and lots of hugs.

It was another couple of hours before we got to see her, but as they wheeled her toward me she waved and smiled.  The nurses settled her into her own room, she had a satisfying dinner, and is getting some rest tonight after a very long day.


Thanks for the prayers and good thoughts - we are strong believers in the power of prayer and positive thinking and we are so thankful for so many of you who were thinking of us today.

email: karenk{at}

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Kathleen and Brett - The Ten Minute Rule | Halifax, NS, Wedding Photographer

My fab photog friends, Justin & Mary Marantz, are sharers.  They share business ideas, posing tips, equipment information.  You name it, they share it.  I found their blog a few years ago and follow it religiously... I blogstalk them daily.  In the photography world, that is a-okay.

I've gotten so many tips from Justin & Mary, but I think my favourite is the Ten Minute Rule - immediately following the ceremony, Justin & Mary get the bride and groom all to themselves for ten minutes.  In reality, this gives the bride and groom a few minutes to breathe, to let it sink it, to have an "ahhhhhhhhh we're married!!!" moment.

Kathleen and Brett's Ten Minute Rule wasn't ten minutes, but it was amazing.  It lasted as long as they needed it to last.  There was no posing, no direction, just time for them to be in the moment, to be together, and it was perfect.



email: karenk{at}