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An Accidental Artist: Carolyn Kamuda, Photographer

By Johanna Lolax

“We are open by chance,” states The Kamuda Gallery website. Carolyn Kamuda, whose lovely flower photos grace the walls of her home-based gallery at 400 Pleasant Street in Gardner, MA, finds spiritual solace in her art.

“I have a great belief that God runs my life,” she says. “I have had a serendipitous life, but it’s been quite interesting.”

Kamuda remembers how, as a child, a little luck got her started in photography. “I mailed in a bunch of Bazooka bubble gum wrappers to get a little camera as a prize,” she says. “My first photo was taken in the schoolyard at the Main Street School in Boscawen, NH, when I was in the second grade.”

Since then, Kamuda has found inspiration in Margaret Bourke-White, who, Kamuda explains, displayed chutzpah in photographing conditions at early twentieth-century steel mills.

“That took some guts, to be amidst the heat of molten steel,” says Kamuda.

It’s gut instinct, rather than technical expertise, Kamuda claims, that inspires her own work today. Apart from a week-long course she took at the New England Institute of Professional Photography during the ‘90s, she hasn’t had any formal training.

“I look at the finished product and if I like it, I’m fine with that,” she says. “It doesn’t matter what steps I took to achieve the result.”

Kamuda’s impact in photography began in 1988, when she founded the Greater Gardner Artists’ Association (GGAA) with a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s arts lottery. She also started two Gardner businesses as a means of support: Kamuda Real Estate, which has won numerous awards for condominium sales, and the Surroundings custom picture framing and art gallery.

No longer at the helm of Surroundings or the Greater Gardner Artists’ Association, Kamuda’s work recently took third prize among 31 photographs entered in the Digital Art Photography category at the GGAA’s 22nd exhibit. She now sells her photographs and photography services through her website at www.flowersinfocus.com. She also maintains her home-based Kamuda Photography studio, which serves as hub for local photographers.

“Since I’m not trained formally in photography, I don’t feel qualified to teach,” Kamuda says. “I hold a meeting once a month at my house with other photographers, to help inspire and challenge them to present their photos to the public.”

She’s planning spring, fall, and holiday shows to present those artists’ photos at her gallery, but Kamuda isn’t dabbling in other artistic media ~ though she says her mother and father had great drawing talent.

“I don’t think I got that gene,” says Kamuda, who dreams of one day publishing a photography book with a fine arts publisher. “I like taking pictures at my own pace,” she says. “My photos reflect who I am.”

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