Local photographer’s book debuts on best seller list

  • Written by Deborah Stone
Karyn King
Karyn King. Courtesy photo.
Photography comes so naturally to Karyn King that she often takes her skills for granted. She believes her abilities are innate and strives to keep the art of taking pictures as simple and intuitive as possible.

The Woodinville woman began dabbling in photography when she was in her 20s and living in California. She knew she’d found an avenue that she wanted to pursue more seriously, but she opted to focus on her education at the time.

After receiving her master’s degree in oceanography, she worked in flight projects and defense programs for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Eventually, she went out on her own. Six years ago, King sold her business and promptly picked up her camera.

“I fell in love with photography all over again,” she says. “I became enamored, in particular, with aerial photography. Seeing the terrain from the air is a special feeling and experience.”

King, who is a professional photographer, considers aerial photography her forte, in addition to landscape and “critter” photography.

She adds, “On the ground and in the water, I truly love taking photos of wildlife in this area. I feel so blessed to be in the presence of the magnificent creatures such as the Orca whales, the bald eagles, sea otters, great blue herons and foxes.”

Recently, the local woman published her first book, San Juan Islands … and Beyond, a compilation of some of her favorite photographs of Orcas and other wildlife, island sunsets, marina and bay views, aerial island images and other points of interest in the region.

From start to finish, the process of bringing the project to fruition took four years, though the actual making of the book took about nine months.

“Like a baby, but not as painful,” comments King.

In four years, she took more than 45,000 images and then spent hours upon hours choosing the 100-plus pictures to be included in the book.

She emphasizes that she doesn’t use Photoshop in any of her images, adding, “I’d rather be behind my camera than on the computer, but I also understand the necessity of distilling down just the right images I need to express the feeling of the special moment.”

King explains that the book’s journey actually began when she and her husband David first flew into SeaTac airport in 1989. As the plane headed over Puget Sound, King knew this was home before she even landed. She was in awe of the beauty of the area.

“When things really ‘clicked’ for me was when I visited the Japanese Gardens for the first time in 2008,” she says. “It was a perfect day, the water was like glass, the fall colors were vivid and I thought I was in heaven. I went to the gift shop and asked if they had a calendar. They didn’t, so I made one of just those spectacular fall images. They bought it and I donated the money back to their foundation. I knew then that I was destined to make a calendar for the San Juan Islands, where my heart and soul live.”

King explains that when the calendars consistently sold out three years in a row, the book requests started coming in.

At the start, she had a publisher who urged her to produce a book of her photos. However, when she was finally ready to embark upon the project, he was unavailable. She decided to self-publish, choosing Her Majesty Press (a play-off of her last name, King), as the moniker of her publishing company.

In addition to sumptuous, eye-popping photos, the book has some narrative, but King kept it simple, as she wanted the reader to “fall into the image” instead of getting bogged down by words.

Currently, San Juan Islands … and Beyond is on the Seattle Times Best Seller List for local books, an accomplishment that King acknowledges wasn’t ever on her radar.

She says, “My goal was to share my view of the world, the extraordinary world of the San Juan Islands and the spectacular Northwest images. To be recognized in this way brings a deep sense of gratitude for that recognition. I am also proud to say that my book is in 52 bookstores, galleries and shops throughout the Seattle area, Puget Sound and the Eastside.”

The local photographer’s immediate plan is to do a second printing of her book, as she is almost sold out of the initial copies. She explains that the second printing will involve changing a few images that she acquired since the first go-around.

As for future books, she is mulling an idea, but isn’t ready to share her thoughts yet.

“All I can say is that it will involve my photographs in a very unique format and will have a broad appeal,” she adds.

King notes that most of the proceeds from her books, calendars, notecards and prints are donated to the Whale Museum in Friday Harbor, as well as to local animal rescue organizations.

She comments, “This has been my purpose — to give back to the community and to those in need.”

Although her work is a solo endeavor, King wants it known that she isn’t able to take the type of pictures she does without the support of her rocket scientist husband, Dr. David King, who has been her “cheerleader, boat captain and lovely assistant.”

Props also go to another rocket man, Dr. Dieter Zube, her pilot, whose skills helped her get those special aerial shots.

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