We had the good fortune of connecting with Kara Adams and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kara, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
The short answer to this question was that when I was in high school I did not find much joy in any of my courses until I started taking english courses that challenged me and photography courses that helped me utilize the creative energy that I had but had very few outlets to express it. The long answer to this question includes that fact but also showcases the difficulty of art school, the struggles that many artists face when trying to figure out what to do with their career and their passion. Upon getting out of school with a brand new degree in photography, I had decided that I would like to pursue a career in commercial art, taking product photos, family portraits, and anything in between but I became very burnt out when trying to manage my passion and the business side of things, all while working a full time job in order to pay the bills. This burnout led me down a different path until recently, where I found a new use for photography that helped create a new vision of what I would like my artistic career to become. Upon further analyzation of my work and my current career path (which did not include photography) I realized that my work has always had a bigger message to it that I try to communicate to others. Due to this I have shifted my goals and realized the reason I wanted to pursue a career in the arts. This reasoning is because I want to make a difference in someone’s life in any way that I can, no matter how small. The difference can be anywhere between adding a beautiful image to someone’s wall at home, to creating a conversation about a topic that was sparked by work that I have done. Photography is how I communicate, and the artist statement surrounding any work that I produce is like a conversation starter. I chose to pursue an artistic career because of the ease at which I could communicate through it. This is why now I have started in the direction of photography for nonprofit organizations. I do a lot of event photography for the nonprofit organization that I currently work for, and plan to expand this to other nonprofits so that they can reach out to their communities in new ways. It sounds extremely cliche to say this but I firmly believe that a picture is worth 1,000 words and that is why the arts mean so much to me and why I want to use my career and my knowledge to help others.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
There has been a huge shift in my professional priorities since taking two years off from the arts, and it is still a work in progress. During that time I was struggling to find my passion for my work I discovered a new passion for working with nonprofit organizations and helping people. This is why I made the choice to focus on getting a Masters Degree in Nonprofit Administration and Management. This degree not only was beneficial to me professionally but it was a much welcomed distraction from the frustrating lack of inspiration I felt for photography at the time. This seems like a very different career direction than my original plan but it has turned into the thing that inspires me the most. I have learned that by trying to make photography the number one job source in my life, I was quickly burning out. After graduation from my Masters Degree I set out on a new path to use my art to support community nonprofit organizations, whether it be taking discounted photographs for events, donating some of the proceeds of my work to a cause, or even just using my skills to support the organization that I currently work for. This inspired me to go back out and photograph, and to enjoy what I was doing with a different perspective. Any work that I plan to produce or sell will be to benefit a community nonprofit of someone’s choice. Along with my commercial work, and scenic panoramic images, I plan to continue my fine art work first with the continuation of a series that I created back in 2014 called ‘The Value of Nothing’ which was meant to be a commentary on our societal values as depicted by Greek Myths. I chose this path in my career because after two years with little to no artistic endeavors, it became clear that I needed to reevaluate what inspired me and what drove me to create.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I have many favorite spots in San Diego that it is hard to choose where to take someone when they visit, especially because I love trying new places when I have guests in the city. When my best friend comes out to visit I take her to all of my usual local spots for craft beer or cider, tacos, and seafood. One of my personal favorite spots if Half Door Brewing Co. in Downtown San Diego. Their location is in an old house just a few blocks from Petco Park and I love their seasonal beers. My other personal favorite spot is Serpentine Cider in Miramar. They are fairly new and have some of the best Cider I have ever tasted. Another favorite is the Whiskey House downtown. They have a great selection of whiskey, and other beverages, plus their food menu is always delicious. My go to breakfast spot to take visitors is the Royal Rooster SD in Mission Bay for burritos. My favorite activity to do when I have visitors is the San Diego Zoo because it is a great way to spend the day. I enjoy walking around, learning about animals, and of course enjoying a soft pretzel once in awhile. Even on busy days it is really fun to walk around and enjoy the company of guests. While in the area I try to take visitors to as many museums as possible, as San Diego has some phenomenal museums and there is always something new to see, even if my guest has been out to visit before. On nice days it is always nice to go for a hike, as the area has so many beautiful places to explore. I of course always bring my camera so I can take photos along the way.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are several people in my career that I have to thank for their support. The main supporters are of course my family and friends because they gave me the tools to begin my photography career, and they have supported me along the way. The people that I have to thank the most for my success would be those who I met while working towards my undergraduate degree in photography. I was fortunate to have some of the most inspirational professors that truly cared about me, my work, and how I could always improve. I could never thank them enough for teaching me the skills that I have continued to use since college, and also for teaching me a few things that, although I have not used those skills in some time, I will never forget them. I also value the peers that I have kept in contact with since then, as their support is crucial when I start a new project, come up with a new idea, or even when I am at my wits end with a certain problem. Having others who are going through the same struggles helps to even out the frustrations and helps to focus on the determination that it takes to create something you are truly proud of. The most obvious shoutout would be to my husband who has had unshakable faith in me and has continued to support me in all of my ventures no matter how crazy or impossible they may seem. He also watches to make sure that I don’t walk off a cliff, fall into a frozen river, or wonder into traffic while trying to get the perfect shot and that is always appreciated. The last shoutout that I need to make is not necessarily to a person or organization, but to the failures that I have experienced. Without failure, and without the time period where I experienced heavy burnout and lost my passion for the arts, I would not have made it to where I am today. Failure and burnout have taught me that it is ok to set something aside in order to make room for a more meaningful and intense passion for something. I took a two year break from photography to pursue other things and because of this, I was able to come back swinging, with new ideas, and a new love for what I do.