Veteran Michigan photographer, Kari Douma, has paid many visits to the winner’s circle at print competitions. Ever since her first competition in 2007, she has been capturing numerous show-stopping photographs that catch the judge’s eyes.
Her photograph, “Homestead,” is no exception. She won the Sunset Print Award at the PPA Northeast District in the spring, and was named the third-place winner at the National Sunset Print Awards in November. Coming across the scene captured in “Homestead” happened almost by chance.
An unseasonal spring snow in Montana inspired her to go for a ride in search of the perfect landscape. “We were driving on two track roads out in the middle of nowhere when I saw the scene and captured it,” she says. “I loved it so much that I wanted to come back at sunrise the next morning but I still liked the original one better from the day before.” After some slight editing in Photoshop, “Homestead” was primed to be a winner.
While running her Grandville, Mich., portrait studio and pursuing her personal image-making, Douma lives and breathes all things photography. Surprisingly, she never even intended to be a professional photographer.
“I always loved photography as a hobby,” she says. “I was the yearbook photographer in high school, and once I had my own children, I was inspired to create beautiful photographs of them. It blossomed into a business from there.”
She credits a lot of her business success to print competitions. “There have been times when I’ve entered client work into the competitions, and I listen to the judge’s comments and remarks, and I never forget it,” she says. “The next time I photograph something similar, their comments are in my mind.”
Entering print competitions has allowed her to keep her work sharp and up to date, translating into excellent award-winning photography for her clients. Her love for competitions has shaped her own perspective substantially, motivating her to constantly improve and even become a judge herself.
“I still think things are constantly changing with styles and editing, yet there’s still the fundamental basics that are always going to be true,” Douma says. “It’s something that still continues to help me grow and learn.”
Douma was the first-place winner in the 2015 National Sunset Print Awards for her image, “Aged Gracefully.”