Behind the Scenes of Turning Prism
A Personal Perspective
Every story has a beginning and every beginning has a birthplace
of its own.
Turning Prism was born of my own need to change perspective and the
unexpected miracle that happened amidst a life challenging illness
With a healing gift from my husband, I dragged my new Nikon and
my weary body into a kayak to embark on what was to be the most profound
journey of my life.
kayak made an artful incision through the opaque water, separating
me from the unimportant. Weighty things that filled my former days,
words like plate’s full, staff meeting, hectic commute and
board meeting rode the v-shaped swells beside me - then were effortlessly
swept away in the unseen wake behind.
I paralleled my life from that kayak for two years - juggling the
oar, the boat, the camera - losing so many dramatic shots to the
wake of a passing boat or the fleeting images along the shore.
The symbolic lessons were not lost on me! While shooting a moving
target from a moving target with no tripod to steady me, the waterfowl
laughed back and the water scenes on Maryland's Chesapeake Bay eluded
There my long neglected lifelong love of the creative
and nature turned the prism of my life’s perspective around
and I celebrated my freedom from the “supposed to.”
With the very first click of my camera, from that unstable boat,
amazingly, I captured the protection of a male swan with his mate
at sunset and I knew just what I wanted – to be present for
a hundred thousand more instants just like this.
had no idea that this seemingly simple single photo was just a tease
that the universe provided to lure me down the path to such profound
Impossibilities became possible.
Slowly, I recaptured my sense of cosmic humor and I succumbed to
the gentleness of a single floating feather
or the reflection of the late sun on still water.
was my hour upon hour of silent connection to these fascinating new
feathered friends and the soul-soothing Bay that compelled me to
embrace a new work direction.
Somehow, I had forgotten we are a part of something
bigger - something we may never think to use on our way to a beautiful
new beginning - the present moment with nature.
In time, I had settled down enough in my own rough waters to catch
an unfamiliar underwater canvas back duck surface in surprise just
or to spend the hours to catch the uncommon emotion
on the face of a common gull who rewarded my patience by letting
me drift so near.
I stayed long enough to understand a mother osprey’s calls
and to speak a language I had long ignored.
Time and again my trained response to return to “serious business” melted
in the molten lava of the setting sun or the eye to eye chance meeting
with a snowy heron who truly seemed to wave me through.
Turning Prism was born not of a business deal or anything
that smacked of my usual logic, but from the experience of watching
a single floating feather, a personal journey to myself and the intense
desire to share this experience with others in a creative and personal
The universal magic happened when a friend who was
at a loss for words for a son who was in prison, asked if I could
create a book of my photographs to help her to connect with him—
and somewhere a young incarcerated man turned the pages
of a new connection to his mother and himself, ran his hand over
his own name on the cover and I too began a journey.
My husband and I changed our lives and moved to San
East Bay, where I continue my vision with the same passion for creating
with the single purpose of touching someone at a poignant time in
their lives, through personalized books of my nature photographs
Now years later, my books and cards have reached people in countless
places as far away as Greece, Morocco and Pakistan and closer by
in Florida, Michigan, California and beyond.
Their owners tell me stories of finding their book tucked under
the arm of an elderly mother who could barely see, cherishing it
because a dying wife’s hands had held it, protecting it from
the sticky hands of a 3 year old wanting to hear just one more time
how his parents met, or proudly displaying it on the mantle of the
newlyweds first apartment.
The ripples continue to expand as their visitors read
the book and are also touched. Funny, how we all love to see our
name in print and a validation of our “meant to be.”
I feel profoundly grateful to see the magic that happens when you
are in concert with yourself and for those perfect lessons that nature
quietly places right in front of us all.
hope that in one of my books you too, will find some need fulfilled
- watch a smile cross a worried face, find the power in a single
silent moment spent with nature and someone you love, bridge the
all too awkward gaps that too often separate us,
or capture a day of joy in someone’s life to share again a
hundred thousand times.
Kathleen L. Martens
Kathleen Martens brings to her work a B.A. in English and Social
Anthropology, M.A. in Educational Psychology, study at the Maryland
College of Art and Design, intercultural communications consulting
in Indonesia and Thailand, Certificate in Family Mediation, International
Business Development in Southeast Asia, marketing and development
for a professional children’s theatre - and most importantly
a higher degree in hard learned lessons from Mother Nature, herself,
as a daughter, wife, mother, stepmother, friend and survivor .