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Stories Blog

One thing I try to do is write a little story about the subjects I photograph. If I don’t know the real story sometimes I just make one up.

Beach Babes

Karyn Planett

Yalta, Ukraine  2013

Yalta, Ukraine  2013

Cheek to jowl, foot to head, hip to hard body, this Crimean beach was Coney Island crowded. And no matter what shape their shapes were in, these sun worshippers loved their teenie bikinis.

Each morning throngs arrived not long after their black tea and bread rolls, then stayed till the sun’s rays tired and slipped below the horizon. It was just another day at the beach for these people of Yalta.

Zooming Icons

Karyn Planett

Archangelsk, Russia  2013

Archangelsk, Russia  2013

Spiritual awakenings are hard to come by, especially for someone like me. But, there I was standing in the presence of gilded Russian icons that seemingly spoke to only me. Others were shuffling past to light candles, offer up silent prayers, or learn of the iconographic history dating back to the year 988 when, according to our guide Tatiana, the pagan Rus converted to Christianity. Created according to strict church standards, these portrayals of Saints, Martyrs and Prophets serve to spread the message of the church.

To me, the images seem to be released from their bonds and literally floated in space.

Mist Dancer

Karyn Planett

Bordeaux, France  2010

Bordeaux, France  2010

A fine mist wafted skyward, swirling into a cooling cloud that enveloped the steamy French summer sun. Across Bordeaux’s sweeping Miroir d’Eau, a willowy young jeune fille, to whom I gave the name Josette, swayed and played and danced the day away unaware of our camera.

Other children splashed and dashed across the world’s largest water mirror yet cared not a whit about the fountain’s Parisian designer named Jean Max Llorca, its 900 syncopated jets underfoot, or the crowds gathered along the Garonne River to enjoy these children’s playfulness.

Shadow Skater

Karyn Planett

Sevastopol, Ukraine  2013

Sevastopol, Ukraine  2013

Who knows what was playing in Sophia’s earphones as she rocketed back and forth along Sevastopol’s busy waterfront. She seemed so carefree skating to a setting sun.

Who knows where she and her friends are now, after the Russians and the Crimeans faced off in this world of uncertainty? How could we have known that only a few months after our visit to this full-of-life city, her easy world would be turned upside down by politics and military actions?

Then, it was so benign and filled with happiness. What is it like now?

Shibuya Scramble

Karyn Planett

Tokyo, Japan  2014

Tokyo, Japan  2014

I heard about the Tokyo Scramble. It’s supposedly the “world’s busiest intersection,” though probably in reality it’s just Tokyo’s. But really, who cares?

Well, evidently I did, at least enough to travel by subway to Shibuya to see for myself, and it didn’t disappoint. I’m now a proud Scramble veteran, having lived through that harrowing experience of dashing into the street, camera in hand, firing away at everything that swooshed past.

Cripes!

Hero City

Karyn Planett

Novorossijsk, Russia  2013

Novorossijsk, Russia  2013

Well, it’s spelled lots of ways, but “Novorossiysk” is a Russian seaport wedged almost between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

Awarded the title of “Hero City,” it’s thick with statues, monuments, memorials, the Square of Heroes, and tons more we tried to see. Even at a breakneck pace we barely had enough time to sample the Black Sea oysters and Russian vodka.

Reflecting on Life

Karyn Planett

Washington, D.C.  2010

Washington, D.C.  2010

At the Vietnam Memorial, the tips of a young boy’s fingers discover a tale of a life snuffed out too soon.

Of all the future holidays with a hollow aching. Of a family whose hearts pounded as they heard the words they begged God they would never hear.

This young child’s gentle caress paid homage to a fallen Vet whose name is reflected on his cheek.

Siq Shafts

Karyn Planett

Petra, Jordan  2008

The midday sun sliced down through Petra’s Siq like a laser. Jordan’s heat was stifling.

We’d arranged to meet our guide Khaled before daybreak to start this journey. For six and a half rugged hours we trekked across the parched terrain till we found ourselves, belly-down, inching toward a crumbling precipice. Below, the famous carved-in-sandstone Treasury. I got the twirlies and wiggled back like a cowering cur to the only safe place I could find.

Was it all worth it? I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Got Teeth?

Karyn Planett

Swellendam, South Africa  2013

Swellendam, South Africa  2013

Who knew you could buy used dentures? Well, not I.

While driving along South Africa’s Garden Route, I spotted a morning market. Wandering from vendor to vendor, I stopped dead in my tracks when I bumped into a card table covered with dentures. All I had to do was find the right fit, pay the man, and off I’d go.

Thankfully, I was not in the market for a set of choppers.

Child Bride

Karyn Planett

Yalta, Ukraine  2013

Yalta, Ukraine  2013

Sometimes you’ve just gotta ask yourself, “Why?” knowing you’ll never discover the answer.

This was one of those moments as we were hiking the Tsar’s Path along the Crimean coast from Livadia Palace to the Swallow’s Nest. We came across a pretty little bride dressed to the nines in nine-inch heels and a goofy young guy who had to be the groom. He was half her size, half her age and, well … half.

It was a real head-smacker.

Venetian Lights

Karyn Planett

Venice, Italy  2011

Venice, Italy  2011

As the rhythmic swish of the gondolier’s paddle guided us through the narrow canals, sounds of Andrea Bocelli and the smell of sizzling garlic wafted from the tiny window above.

A moist dankness filled the afternoon air.

Fire Dancer

Karyn Planett

Rabaul, Papua New Guinea  2009

Rabaul, Papua New Guinea  2009

Sparks flew as the Baining fire dancers kicked glowing coals with their bare feet. Even though most people in New Guinea have calloused feet the size of hubcaps, I’m sure not many could withstand the intense heat of this bonfire.

The male dancers appeared virtually naked sporting only a bark cloth headdress and a disk that is reportedly sewn onto their penises. I can only imagine!

Steeled, supposedly, by three days of eating only betel nuts—no water, no food, no trips to the bathroom—each of the five men dashed through the burning flames for more than three hours, seemingly unscathed.

I, on the other hand, sported a rosy blush across my face cooked by the blistering heat of the palm frond–fueled inferno raging mere feet away. It didn’t matter because I risked it all, even lying face down in a muddy god-knows-what with ants in the rain to get the shot. And I did.